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FREE SHIPPING | 9,000+ glowing reviews for a reason!

FREE SHIPPING | 9,000+ glowing reviews for a reason!

13+ million lbs of food waste recycled

Chickens & Flocks

The Truth Behind Most Commercial Chicken Feed: What They Don’t Tell You

by Hailey Dray | 03.30.2020
The Truth Behind Most Commercial Chicken Feed: What They Don’t Tell You

Chicken Feed Ingredients: What Layer Feeds Have in Common

Let's discuss what's in chicken feed. Nearly all layer feeds contain soy, fishmeal, or fillers to give chickens the nutrients that they would naturally get while foraging outside for plants and insects.

In fact, prior to 2019, all commercial layer feeds excluded insect protein, an essential part of a chicken’s natural diet. Today, nearly all premium poultry feeds contain either soy or fishmeal, a protein chickens don’t naturally forage for outside.

What’s natural about giving our chickens fish from the ocean? How do these “fishy” ingredients make our eggs taste? How is this hurting our overfished oceans?

Here’s the catch- like fishmeal, every ingredient that goes into food for pets has to be approved by the FDA and The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO is an independent organization who works closely with the FDA and USDA) for every type of animal. This includes pet chickens. It wasn’t until 2019 when the FDA and AAFCO approved black soldier fly larvae as a healthy feed ingredient for poultry feed.

Now that black soldier fly grubs are approved by the FDA to nourish chickens the way nature intended, you’ll start seeing grub-based feeds for your chickens (the way it should be).

Soon, those fishmeal feeds will become a thing of the past, especially as the health of our oceans continue to deteriorate, causing a shift in our current agricultural system. Sustainably raised, healthy grubs will be the primary source of protein chickens, the way nature intended. Plus, you’ll happily kiss fishmeal-feeds goodbye when you learn how healthy grub-based feed is for your chickens and the planet.

The Truth behind “Natural” Feeds:

While most commercial layer feeds claim to be “natural,” this term is frequently marketed and entirely unregulated by the FDA.

Unfortunately, we need to do our homework with our pet food and cannot rely on a quick glance at the label for some most brands. This becomes especially important for backyard chicken owners who are feeding their family and friends with the eggs that their hens lay.

So what makes a layer feed actually natural?

Two chicken eating feed

The key to a natural diet is to start with what chickens eat in nature, and then craft a recipe as close to that as possible with nutrient-dense gifts from the earth, vitamins, and minerals. The natural diet of chickens includes a mix of insects and plants to help them stay strong, healthy and happy.

When chickens forage, they dig and search for grubs, all sorts of bugs, and occasionally, small animals like lizards and frogs. As they forage, they also gobble up various vegetation and plants.

Chickens are actually not vegetarians. They are hunters, scavengers and omnivores. Plus, they’ll even beg for food, just like other pets. It’s up to us to provide the healthiest, most natural diet they can get.

Comparing Popular Chicken Feed Formulas

Producer's Pride 16% Layer Poultry Feed Mini-Pellets

Purina® Organic Layer Pellets or Crumbles

Grubbly’s Fresh Pecks Layer

Mile Four Organic Chicken Feed 

Manna Pro Layer Pellets for Chickens Non-GMO & Organic High Protein Feed

Volume

40 lbs

35 lbs

30 lbs

23 lb

10 lb or 30 lb

Average Price with Shipping

$0.92/lb

$1.53/lb

$1.5/lb w/ subscription


$1.66/lb one-time purchase

$2.09

$2.13/lb

Top 3 Ingredients

Processed Grain By-Products, Grain Products, Calcium Carbonate

Ground Corn, Soybeans,

Wheat Middlings

Wheat, Peas, Dried Black Soldier Fly Grubs

Peas, Wheat, Flax Meal

Organic Corn, Organic Soybean Meal, Calcium Carbonate

Protein

16% 

16%

16%

16%

16%

Primary Protein Sources

Plant Protein Products

Soy

Grubs & Peas

Peas

Soybean Meal

Essential Amino Acids

Not listed

Lysine .7% Methionin .3%

Lysine .75%

Methionine .4%

Lysine .74%

Methionin .29%

Lysine .75%

Methionine .25%

Calcium

Not listed

3.25% - 4.25%

3% - 4%

3.4%

3.5% - 4.5%

Phosphorus

Not listed

.5%

.55%

.55%

.5%

Pre- & Probiotics

Not listed

Not listed

Yes

Yes

Not listed

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Not listed

Not listed

.4%

Not listed

Not listed

GMO-Free

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Made in the USA

Yes

Not listed

Yes

Yes

Not listed

Sustainable

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Overall Customer Rating

4.6 stars

4.6 stars 

4.8 stars

4.2 stars

4.5 stars 

 *All data listed above is accurate as of November 3rd, 2022.

Common Questions Regarding Chicken Feed Quality

Unsure where to start when comparing chicken feeds? We recommend you review how to read your feed's label and use these common questions to guide you on your journey to the best feed for your flock:

Why Can’t I find an Ingredients List for a Chicken Feed?

Many companies are less-than-transparent about their ingredients and guaranteed analysis. While the FDA requires that pet and animal feed products list their ingredients on their packaging, it is not required that they do so online.

Some companies use a least-cost ingredients inclusion method which is why you will find some brand sew their ingredient labels and guaranteed analysis onto the bottom of their bags. This allows them to reformulate their ingredients based on the market prices of individual ingredients. The downside to this is that you never know what you’re going to get if you use that brand. 

Two problems that arise with brands that cycle ingredients based on market fluctuations is that your chickens may struggle to adjust to the changes from bag-to-bag–or you may wind up with a feed that has an ingredient your chickens struggle to digest.

Does Where a Chicken Feed Is Made Matter? How about Where the Ingredients Are Source?

Yes. First, the U.S. has some of the best standards of oversight when it comes to pet and animal feed oversight and regulations. Additionally, when you buy chicken feed made in the U.S., you can expect a fresh product since it’s not getting shipped from overseas. When comparing where ingredients are sourced, you want peace of mind that they’re grown in sanitary conditions.

Finally, in addition to providing your flock with a better quality, likely safer feed, when you opt for US-made products, you’re helping to sustain American jobs and the economy.

At Grubbly Farms, our feeds only use grubs grown in the U.S. and Canada from farmers that follow E.U. standards

Do all USDA Organic Chicken Feeds Source Their Ingredients from the US?

No. A product may have a country of origin outside of the US, even if it’s USDA certified. This means that even with a USDA certification, your chicken feed could source ingredients from anywhere in the world and produce their feed outside of the U.S.

Is Organic Always Better?

We believe that it's completely up to the consumer whether or not organic is a better choice for their flock. Especially, since many chicken owners want to be able to sell their eggs at a premium price that comes along with the organic label.

So, if you're on the fence or you want to try a sustainable, all-natural feed like Fresh Pecks that offers exceptional quality but is not technically "organic," here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

Cons:

Why Are Grubblies and Grubbly Farm Feeds Not Organic?

Our grubs are grown using a model that promotes sustainability by repurposing pre-consumer waste that would normally wind up in a landfill. This include fruits, veggies, and grains that businesses didn't sell or were a bit on the ugly side. Because of the ratio of non-organic to organic foods in general, our grubs only wind up with non-organic diet as they help to combat the food waste epidemic. This results in the main protein we use to fuel your flock as non-organic.

As of now, there are no organic black soldier fly grubs available globally.

The Value Behind Grubbly Farms Feeds 

Grubbly Farms feeds are crafted with care, here in the U.S. We also source our ingredients from farmers and suppliers within the U.S. and North America.

Additionally, our feeds are formulated to reduce your flock's carbon footprint while providing your gals with a feed that is more wholly utilized by their bodies. We also include prebiotics and probiotics that reflect a chicken's natural diet to support a healthy gut microbiome and a strong immune system defense.

Finally, we are committed to:

Provide Your Modern Backyard Dinosaurs with a Naturally Balanced Diet with Insects and Plants

Chickens with Grubbly Farms Fresh Pecks

If you are one of many chicken moms or dads who is looking for a healthy, natural, and completely fish-free diet for your chickens, Grubbly Farms introduced the world’s first of its kind.

And it’s not just chickens who have been gobbling up this sweet-smelling, fresh, grub-based feed. Ducks, quail, turkeys, peafowl, and geese are loving it too.

Grubbly Fresh Pecks is the world’s first naturally-balanced feed that replaces fishmeal with black soldier fly grub protein, packed with nutrients. It’s made with farm-grown insect protein and plant-based ingredients, empowering you to feed your flock the way nature intended.

With a healthy mix of grubs, plants, essential amino-acids, vitamins, and minerals, you can keep your whole feathered family strong, healthy and happy.

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Hailey Dray

Hailey Dray

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