What is in Commercial Chicken Feed?

what is in commercial chicken feed

Commercial chicken feeds come in three forms – mash, crumble and pellet. Flock owners may choose to have their feed ground into pellet form in order to facilitate digestion by their birds.

Chewy Online Pet Supplies

35% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

Most commercial poultry feeds contain protein from plant sources such as leftover material from processing soybean, canola or sunflower seeds into cooking oils, while some include animal by-products such as poultry meat and bone meal or lupins.



Virtually all commercial chicken feed is pelletized, meaning it has been compressed using steam and pressure, to make eating easier for birds while maintaining more nutrition. Soybean meal is one of the primary sources of protein used in commercial feed; although less nutritional than other plant sources, it does contain essential lysine which chicks require.

Commercial feed manufacturers use a mixture of ingredients to formulate balanced rations for all stages of a flock’s lifecycle, from beginning to end. Chickens need the correct combination of vitamins, particular minerals and amino acids in their diet in order to thrive; table scraps, treats, fruits vegetables or scraps from food sources dilute this equilibrium; this should be avoided by laying hens (although occasional snacks are acceptable). Each package of commercial feed will list which species the product caters to.


Feed producers take many factors into consideration when formulating chicken feed to meet specific nutritional needs at different stages in life, such as availability and cost of ingredients as well as specific nutrient needs for poultry.

Commercial poultry feed contains proteins sourced both from plant and animal sources. Plant-based proteins come from sunflower or canola seeds used to extract oil for making cooking oils; animal proteins come from meat-and-bone meal, fish meal and poultry fat.

Fat in chicken feed helps them maintain energy levels while supporting healthy skin and internal tissues, blood clotting, egg shell strength and vitamin absorption. Commercial feed includes linoleic acid-based fats like beef tallow or pork lard as source material.


Insoluble fibers are considered functional nutrients, helping to affect intestinal morphology, digestion and gut microflora modulation. Furthermore, insoluble fibers may improve poultry feed palatability as well as increase its energy content.

Commercial chicken feed contains various ingredients that provide essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals essential for optimal growth and egg laying. Chickens require these vital elements in their diet to thrive.

Different breeds of chicken require various combinations of ingredients in order to meet their nutritional requirements, for instance egg laying hens need more calcium than meat chickens as this mineral is used more readily when producing eggs. Ingredients are then sourced, milled, mixed and pelletized into an animal feed formula which you may find either crumbles, pellets or sometimes in mash form.


Chickens are omnivorous animals that need a diet rich in plant and animal-derived foods for energy, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Most poultry rations typically include grains such as corn, wheat or barley along with ingredients like brewer’s grain, lupins and peas for protein supplementation; soybean meal, canola meal and sunflower meal also contribute oils; further protein sources may come from animal byproducts like fish meal or bone meal.

Grains contain low levels of minerals, so supplements are used to ensure adequate levels are reached. Calcium supplements typically take the form of limestone or oyster shell while dicalcium phosphate is often added for added phosphorus levels. Magnesium supplements are another common choice.

Vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids are often added to poultry feed as supplement. Examples include niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and folic acid.


Chickens require an abundance of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Nutritionists who create commercial chicken feed follow specific dietary guidelines for different species (chick starter, grower, layer and meat birds) in order to formulate nutritious bagged feed that will provide balanced sources of nutrition.

Bagged feed also includes various micro-ingredients to enrich it, such as rendered pork or beef fat or linseed oil for energy purposes, while vitamin C helps ensure healthy egg production.

Other ingredients such as ground limestone and oyster shells provide calcium and phosphorus essential for producing strong eggshells, while black soldier fly grubs offer an abundance of amino acids such as lysine and methionine that enable chickens to lay eggs efficiently. You can add supplements containing these nutrients directly into their feed if desired.