Making Food My Way

by Eric Keith
(Plainfield, IN, USA)

After not being happy with what I could find locally, I decided to do some research (well lots of research actually) and start mixing my own food. I certainly didn't figure it all out overnight; it took over 3 years to come up with what I now use for all of my show birds. I found that just about every available food was all just about the same (very small variations in the necessary requirements).

I decided to choose the least expensive crumble to start with, because I knew I was going to add to them anyway and I was already adding grit and oyster shell to the food mix anyway. The first thing we tried was adding conditioner pellets to the layer crumbles and saw no real improvement at all. I used to feed bagged scratch separately, but they would always eat all the scratch and barely eat the food, so I started mixing the scratch in too. After taking a closer look at the scratch I was feeding, I felt that I could do better than just cracked corn, milo and soft wheat which were the main ingredients in the bagged scratch.

So back to the research I went and found that there are lots of inexpensive grains I could add, to improve upon their diet. Now I use a mix of cracked corn, oat groats, hard and soft wheat, barley, red millet, milo, split peas, lentils, black beans, brown rice and safflower seeds as a scratch seed mix. After they started eating this food combination, I saw better leg, face and comb color, not to mention they seemed to be much more active.

Next we started adding Duravet vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, to their water 4 days a week, apple cider vinegar once a week and water soluble
Probiotics once a month. Egg production went up and their poops became large and solid, all the time.

I was still not happy with body size and molt recovery, so we started daily greens, which got expensive fast, so that’s when we discovered chicken gardening. We plant a 12x12 chicken garden filled with Collards, Giant Curly Kale, Swiss Chard, Zucchini and Roma Tomatoes, but still buy heads of cabbage, because it's just a lot easier to buy them rather than grow them. Last year we added a 20x20 area in the back yard where planted Red Clover and Alfalfa seed as well. During the winter when greens are only available at the grocery store, we use an Alfalfa/Timothy pellet as a treat.

We really didn't see any big improvement, other than they began to eat less of the food mix and they seem to really like the greens. Finally, last year we started to use a product we found at the Crossroads Show and it was the last piece of the puzzle. By adding 18oz of Kick in Chicken to 100lbs of the food mix, we had the fastest molt we've ever had, they also seem to fill out their body size quite nicely and their post molt color is the best it has ever been as well.

I should also say that through this whole process, our hatch rate never changed, it has been and still is, right at 85%. I will also add, we started out with pretty decent birds to begin with. Also, before we started to feed the way we do now, the kids and I, never put a bird on champion’s row. This year, we've put 6 on champion’s row, 9 reserves in class, 30 best of breeds and 41 best of variety, so far this year.

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May 20, 2013
Chicken Scratch Recipe
by: Foster Chicken Ranch

Hi! Could you give us the recipe for your scratch mix? Our scratch that we get locally is mostly cracked corn. Our boys are trying to get their chickens ready for our County Fair and State Fair. We have 16 different breeds-bantams and standards. We have not been happy with their feather quality with the feed we are currently feeding them and would like to give your recipe a try. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. You can contact us at

May 13, 2013
Food My Way Update
by: Eric Keith

I thought I would give everyone an update on my feed recipe. As I am allways looking to feed my birds the best food I can and not brake the bank. I have made a couple of changes to the recipe. First I droped the Black Beans, because after a few months they just quit eating them and I have replaced the Black Beans with 4lbs of Pearl Barley. Second I went back to using TSC's 50lb scratch, because they've gone back to having a good mix oats, milo and millet. So now, I just add 4lbs each of Split Peas, Lentals, Brown Rice, Pearl Barley, Sun Flower and Safflower seeds to their 50lb bag of scratch. So for my Spring thru Fall feed mix, I use a ratio of 60% crumble 40% Scratch mix and then add 5cups of Oyster shell and 5cups of Grit to 100lbs of feed mix,then I mix it thoroughly. Also, even though I still think Kicken Chicken is a great product, it just got to be too expensive to use. I started using 18oz of Fortified Wheat Germ Oil, as my oil mix in, because 1 gallon of it costs less than 2 quarts of the Kicken Chicken. The nice thing is, I haven't seen any change in the results I'm looking for, in an improved feed mix and I'm saving a substantial amout of money.

For those of you that have tried my feed recipe, I would love the hear how it's working for you.

May 03, 2013
looking for recipe
by: Birkenholz Stock Farm

Our email address is:

Our daughter Leslie shows cochins and a few old OE Bantams. We are interested in coming up with a feed formula. Would you be willing to email us with the amounts of each type of feed you mix together? Thanks, Cheryl Birkenholz; Hopkins, MO

Oct 05, 2012
Kickin Chicken
by: Mary Hussey

Thanks, Eric! I don't know if I could mix up too much ahead of time, because I don't go through so much feed so fat, but maybe in smaller doses.

I will look for you at Ohio! Make sure to use your cell phone on the exhibitor's list so I can reach you.


Oct 05, 2012
Mixing it in
by: Eric

Yes, I mix it in and if I happen to be out of it, I will use Fortified Wheat Germ oil, at the same rate. I use a Cement Wheel Barrow, the plastic tub type, to mix in. I put in 60.lbs of my scratch mix and 40.lbs of feed, then 3.lbs of grit and 3.lbs of corse oyster shell, for the fall and winter, then mix by hand and I swap the percentage for spring and summer. I then put in the K/C and mix again. I store it in a plastic 66 gallon trash can and fill feeders as needed. I mix up 2 batches a week. We currently have 38 breeds, split about 50/50, between large fowl and bantam. So far we've done great with Both LF and Bantam Cochins, LF Langshan, LF SS Hamburgs, LF Buttercups, LF and Bantam LaFleche, Bantam Modern Games, Bantam Dark Brahma's, Silkies and LF Dominiques. We are planing on going to the Ohio National.

Oct 04, 2012
Kickin Chicken
by: Mary Hussey

Eric, I have often looked at that Kickin Chicken, but I didn't want to have to top dress every day, and have only the few birds who ate that dressed part benefit. Are you saying you mix it into 100 lbs at a time? With only 24 birds, it takes me a month to go through 100 lbs. I have added wheat germ oil and other liquid supplements in small batches - a real PITA - but never that much at a time. That would be great, though.

How fast does it take for you to go through the 100lbs?

Just curious - what breeds are you winning with?

Going to Columbus in November?

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