CHICKENS

Chicken Feed Storage For Winter Months – How Many Bags of Pellets?

Long term chicken feed storage!
Chicken Preparedness ;)

As of this writing, Winter is on the horizon. I like to feel “hunkered down” up here in North Country before the snow flies in earnest. I have calculated how much chicken feed pellets that I will store for winter. That is, how many bags of layer pellets to get my hens through until grasses grows next year.

Right now it’s early October. The leaves have already gone past their peak fall foliage colors here in northern NH. The grasses are mostly yellowed. The chicken’s fenced-in (semi)open-range has diminishing natural foods and bugs for the hens to eat right now.

We always see our first snowfall by end of October. Typically by mid-November we’re accumulating snow such that the ground will not be seen again until April. Grass will start growing by mid-May. That’s a long time for the chickens without natural open range food (and bugs to eat).

So, what to do?

Well, I could do like most others and just buy a 50 pound bag of layer pellets as I need them. A 30 minute trip to Tractor Supply store and I’m all set. Right?

Not exactly. I would rather have stacks of chicken feed bags ready-to-go, stored in my shop building. Enough to get me through. It just makes me feel good (having enough). But that’s just me…

This brings up two questions. How many bags of chicken feed layer pellets do I need for winter storage? What’s the best way to store chicken feed?

How Many Bags (Pounds) Of Chicken Feed For Winter

I used the opportunity to build an Excel spreadsheet (reminiscent of a previous career whereby Excel was a near daily tool!). Anyway, here’s what I came up with…

My birds are ISA-Brown hens. They are a medium size hen. They are prolific layers. One egg a day, pretty much guaranteed (during their prime time of 1 to maybe 2 years). Your hens may be different to an extent (and how much they might eat). But this should give you a clue.

First, weights and measures:

How many cups in a bag of chicken feed

I took out the digital kitchen scale. Zeroed a bowl on top. Filled it with 10 cups of layer pellets (to get a good average weight per cup).

I weighed the two popular brands sold at Tractor Supply. Purina Layena and Dumor. They both weighed nearly identical per cup.

6 ounces per cup.

A 40 pound bag of Purina Layena holds about 107 cups (640 ounces).

A 50 pound bag of Dumor holds about 133 cups (800 ounces).

I recently switched from Purina to Dumor, which costs less. As of this date, about $14 for a 50 lb bag.

How much chicken feed will a hen eat per day?

A few months ago I started keeping track of the date when I opened a new bag of feed. That enabled me to get a pretty good idea how much chicken feed they were eating each day.

Important: Chickens will eat more pellets in the winter because they are not supplementing with open range food. So this factors in to your calculations for winter storage to an extent.

I have seven hens, so I divided everything by seven to get a good average. Here’s what I came up with:

During August, each bird consumed about 0.6 cups of chicken feed per day.

During September, each bird consumed about 0.7 cups per day.

That’s roughly about 1/4 pound per day (each hen).

How much will they be eating during the middle of winter? Well they’re at 0.7 cups/day right now. I might be looking at near a cup a day per bird. Time will tell…

Number of Bags & Pounds – Per Month

Non winter months, about 7 – 8 pounds per hen per month.

Winter months, about 10 – 11 pounds per hen per month. This presumes about 1 cup per day per bird.

My Winter Storage of Chicken feed will provide six months food for seven hens. That comes out to just over (9) 50 pound bags of layer pellets.

How To Store Long Term

It’s really no different than normal “people” food for preparedness. “In a cool, dry place”. Your own environment will vary.

I simply stack the bags on top of a sheet of foam insulation board (cut/saw with sharp knife to size). Readily available at HD or Lowes.

This will keep the bags off the cold concrete – which could otherwise create a moisture problem in that bottom bag.

RODENT PROOF!

Knock on wood, my shop is free of mice. It’s tightly built, so they’re not gettin in *unless they sneak in while the big door is rolled up! ALWAYS keep traps set. This is really the only effective way to battle them.

Should I keep my chicken feed in metal barrels?

Yes, if there’s a rodent problem in your storage area. Place the barrels on wood or something to keep it off direct contact with the floor (prevent a moisture condensation problem). Dump the feed in the barrels.

How Long Will Chicken Feed Last?

Again, depends on your environment. If it’s hot, damp, humid… it’s going to mold much sooner!

I can tell you this… The longest I’ve kept a bag (so far) has been 5 months. The chicken feed bags have a date stamped on an end flap. I had one from May, opened in September, it was perfectly fine.

Feed Cost Per Dozen Eggs Of Production

While I had the spreadsheet open, I figured out how much it’s costing me to get a dozen eggs. Now if you can somehow throw out the cost of materials / building their coop, pen, and fenced range! That leaves you with just the feed (and of course your time which is always free, right?)…

Within a penny, it’s costing me $1 dollar in feed to get a dozen eggs, as of this moment.

[ Read: Chicken Coop Insulation ]

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That was very helpful. I haven’t sat down to do the math so thanks for doing it for me. Guess I need 4 bags a month. Better go get some more.

I would imagine that many of the chicken newbies will drop off.

Or they will end up a nut like me who keeps incubating their own and ends up with a flock of 36+ birds 😳

Heh heh… Guess I’ll be a nut like you man. I’ve lost a few to coyotes, rescued a few from a hoarding situation and some days enjoy my ladies more than people. I’ve learned so much over the last 8 months. I’m getting almost a dozen eggs a day and am thinking about letting some eggs incubate to see what happens. New research topic and to me, just a fun hobby. Plus I’m about ready to make a batch of my Spicy Pickled Ghost eggs :-)
I saw the shortage earlier and grabbed about a half ton of assorted pellets, crumbles, and starter feed. Plus about 10 bags of the dehydrated meal worm which they love. I’d love to start a meal worm farm but Haven’t done that homework. I think the DW would frown on me putting mealworms into the dehydrator as well…..

I had a Peking Robin once that I fed mealworms. I got him to control flies in my aviary after one of my bird got stuck on fly paper. Anyway, I ordered mealworms from a company named Grubco. They sent live mealworms that I kept in the refrigerator (but my wife did not like that). I got a metal 5 gallon can and lid. I put small air holes in the lid for air. I took the soiled newspapers from the bottom of the bird cage and stuffed them in the can. I put a very little water in the bottom and dumped in some meal worms on the newspaper. Then I put the lid on and clamped it down. I think it was a few weeks later I looked in it and there were a bunch of beetles crawling around. I put in more water and more bottom of the cage newspapers and closed the lid. From that day on, I was able to open the can and look in the folds of the newspaper and pull out mealworms. The beetles were always there and so were the mealworms.
The chickens will enjoy live mealworms as well as dead dried ones.

Sam,
pretty cool, the beetle is the parent,, just got to keep them fed!

The number of fancy used “Chicken Condos” for sale on Facebook says the trendy chicken newbies have had enough. LOL

Our TSC recently did not have any 24% chick starter, which is what I use for ducks, turkeys, and chicks. I can get by with 20% for chicks but would not be good for other poultry. Anyway, I figured I could used a blender on the pellets for chicks if hard pressed.

Ours run out of everything but layer pellets, and they showed they had a full pallet of starter on inventory…I changed suppliers.

What winter months ?

Ken, Bring them with you! They don’t take up much space right?

Ken –

Are you ‘Hurricane Certified’ ?

What a terrible problem you have..
. You need to check out the green house your neighbor has down there…in The Deep South Homestead…just planted sweet peas in the second one… Danny said his only regret was not doing it much sooner..
Seriously…..being able to grow something all year is a wonderful thing…
we have a frost in early october- and could not plant frost tender things til after Mother’s day this year.. family can not eat greens unless run thru the chickens and rabbits first…. .

Wow Ken–great work. Thank you a bunch for the math. I have 8 laying hens so I will be storing what you are plus an extra bag. I have a pet duck to feed. She is 9yrs old and doesn’t produce but an egg or two a month now, if that. Also b/c of the duck, I have to feed outside the coop as she can’t get up there anymore, so the local starlings get feed too :(

Last March when the CoViD19 started I picked up 100lbs of baby chick feed and it lasted me thru the summer and right near up to when the new ones started laying.

I also bought 100lbs of laying pellets and they got me thru the summer.

You’re right. We don’t know how all of this is going to go and it would be better to have enough on site than to wish I’d done that.

Great timing on this article. I’m going tomorrow for 25 bags to store for winter. Today picking up shavings to get us through winter. Like others here I’m thinking winter might be early this year. Also don’t want to deal with any election madness. We are wrapping up everything we can this next few weeks.

And I’m not so worried about going to get anything in winter as much as I am concerned about availability this winter – and beyond.

I’ve also stocked up on straw as I think I’ll spread that around as a second layer to the straw in the hen house for a bit more insulation. I was thinking about picking up a couple of 200 Watt Coop heaters just to have in the house. I’m a bit nervous about winter coming. Since we free range most of the time when I’m home, I’m not sure how that will work out in the winter. I’ve read about frostbite. Everyone thinks I’m nuts because I was thinking about adding a full blown roof with shingles and gutters to the outside run and a covered tunnel that will lead from a window in the hen house to the actual run area. Some have said I’m obsessed. I just smile while I eat that double yolked egg and cheese bagel :-)

Please heed Ken’s advice about having rodent traps around in your garage or shop for when they make it in. In a corner, they ate through the bottom garage door gasket where the door meets the ground and the PVC trim to get into the garage.

Thanks for the info! I purchased 3 bags of feed and 3 bags of scratch grains from the TS in town yesterday and I really was wondering how many bags I would need to get through the winter…and now I know. I was surprised to see the usual chest high stacks of feed were only a couple bags high. Hope it was because they had a busy weekend rather than limited supplies. I think I better get the rest of what I’ll need sooner rather than later.

I’m not raising chickens for cheep eggs, I’m raising them so we’ll have eggs. Such a wonderful, reliable source of protein.

BTW, when I have a couple extra, older eggs from the back of the frig, I’ll make scrambled eggs, add a little leftover cooked rice or oatmeal and give the hens a protein snack.

AZoffgrid,
What a wonderful point! “I”m not raising chickens for cheap eggs. I’m raising them so we’ll HAVE eggs.”

I’d also presume that FEMA might look to feed stores if they take over grocery stores. So having the ability to buy the quantity you want without being on anyone’s radar would also be incentive to gather now versus waiting.

Although I’d think you might want to buy grocery store eggs every now and then, so no one would put two and two together about whether you had your own egg factory that they’d like to tour.

I used to buy my feed at TSC and used Dumor. Then I switched to a local feed store and saved a mint! I use 20% protein pellets for my flock. I also mix 1 scoop of each: wheat, triticale, oats, and corn with half scoop buckwheat and quarter scoop sunflower seed and add in kelp. This is all mixed together in a large metal can. Each morning my 25 chickens get 1 scoop pellets and half scoop mixed grain thrown on the ground. They also still forage and find something each day. They have oyster shell available all the time. This works well for me and the girls lay well. I have three broody hens, a rooster, and 20 two and three yr old layers giving me 18 eggs daily at peak. Everyone is molting and slowing down now so about 12 right now. Also have 16 youngsters growing out and they get crumble.

i used to pay $15 for 50 lbs Dumor and now pay $17 for 100 lbs. I also tried to stock up on Dumor when it was on sale.

i could get organic but it would be mash and I don’t like feeding all that powder. We wet it but doesn’t work well this time of year because of freezing temps.

I have more than 25 hens, that is just the amount fed to this particular group. I should also advise everyone 5hat when there was a flour shortage Earlier in 5he year, it caused a problem having pelleted chicken food made. Not sure exactly why, but there was a 6 to 7 week period that pellets were not available but you could get mash. It affected a couple other products like dog food kibble too causing a few shortages. I would anticipate that issue again in the future.

I have posted a number of times about my experience feeding chickens. ,for one year I had broiler farm 1/3 to 1/2 million birds. ,stale feed was a big problem ,kept it in steel upright tanks ,20,k lbs each , would be fresh from the mill every time ,still warm from pressing ,turnaround time was 7-8weeks , would dump any left over at end of batch ,once lost thousands of birds in minutes due to bad feed ,was a chunk of moldy feed hung up some were in the feed system
For a small set up grind your own ,whole grain keeps forever ,learn to test for feed values,not hard to learn
I would not plan on long term processed feed storage. From past experience ,

Oldhomesteader, I have a question for you. Years ago I was told to never give chickens moldy bread because it will send them into a molt. Maybe molting is a symptom of mold toxicity. Is moldy feed a certain type of mold. Is moldy anything toxic to chickens, like funky strawberries? I’ve never fed my girls anything with a fuzz…too cautious?

AZ off grid ,,,,
From what I remember it’s mold from grain ,

Just checked with DW ,she had a laying house with 500 birds and sold eggs in Alaska fruit and veg mold is ok but not grain mold ,also don’t feed fish ,eggs will taste bad and botulism is a risk ,

Thank you!!

I have not yet had a mold problem with my chicken pellets but I did have it with my meat goat pellets. It was our own fault. A large tree branch fell on the Shipping container and cracked 5he metal roof causing a leak. We did not realize it at first. Thankfully only lost two 100 lb bags. Now after a storm, I will close myself inside in daylight hrs and look for light…with hubby on outside so I can get out. LOL. I would imagine warm, humid climates have more of an issue with mold.

My chickens each eat 2-11lbs of feed per month. I have some big birds (Brahmas), some efficient birds (Rhode Island Reds), and some wasteful birds (Blue Laced Wyandottes) among others. I quit paying attention and just plan on 10lbs/month per bird. In the summer it is closer to 1-3lbs. In the summer I will purposefully not feed them every day otherwise the lazier birds never free range. I call them post-millennials.

I use Layena crumbles. I’m pretty sure it’s sourced from the same places but I’ve never had problems with it molding or the chickens disliking it like I have with other brands.

Millennial hens…. Love it. For whatever reason the wife order a few Silky Chickens. Funniest things I’ve ever seen. One is white and looks like a cross between a Dodo bird and Phyllis Diller (not that I’m dating myself….) Her and the other one follow the rooster around like lost puppies or modern day millennials trying to figure it out….. Not trying to offend millennials but………

Lol, DoubleTap
Yeah, we have silkies, too.
Comical, but pet friendly.

Sumatra roosters at the barn…defensive a-hoos. Had one fly off his perch, as I bent over to grab feed..
He attacked my head….
A few cuss words

Yeah, he’s still living.
I dont turn my back on him….shovel…
pitchfork….bucket…45 cal always in hand
He may become chicken broiler stew.

My brother in law worked on a commercial poultry farm several years. He keeps his chicken feed at home in an old chest freezer to keep the rodents out of it. We get our eggs from him…far superior to anything we can buy at the store.

“…if there’s a rodent problem in your area…”

Storing your feed in its sacks, you may find that, if you don’t have a rodent problem in your area, you WILL by winter’s end! Rodents lose their natural feeds in winter as well, and will think NOTHING of foraging through your feed sacks! I even had them chew through my bags of POOL SHOCK! Even in areas that don’t see snow, ALL animals are “lazy.” If they find your feed stash and take a liking to it, you’re going to have a HELL of a time getting rid of them! I HIGHLY recommend storing the feed in metal trashcans with tight-fitting lids! 30-gallon cans cost about $25.00 each. If kept out of the weather, and off the wet ground, they’re a one-time purchase. I use plastic forklift pallets to keep the bottoms of my cans dry.

Store your grains and feeds wisely.

I did a little research and found that grains and feed can be tainted with a number of fungi, but there are a couple that produce some pretty nasty mycotoxins.

Aflatoxin: from a type of Aspergillus mold. Aflatoxin that can trigger autoimmune disease, cause liver and kidney damage, heart inflammation and liver cancer. Infects crops such as peanuts and corn.

Ergot: a group of fungi that infect grains and grasses. The mycotoxin is an alkaloid that can cause “ergotism” if ingested by animals and humans. The neurological effects are muscle spasms, hallucinations, behavioral changes, seizures, death. The toxin can also cause vasoconstriction leading to reduced blood flow to arms, hands, legs and feet; kidney damage, miscarriage, intense burning sensation of the skin (St. Anthony’s Fire), limb loss, hoof loss, and gangrene. YUCK!!

I am now highly motivated to keep my grains, hay and feed dry…along with my powder.

Cool and Dry!
FIFO
First in, Fist out

Yes, article was very helpful.. for winter you will need at least double the feed of summer….UNLESS you supplement with meat scraps, fat, Any old rice-grains.
The first few months I let my base flock begin free ranging- it cut my feed bill to 1/3 in spring. and stayed that way all way til it got really cold.
To dry – absorb moisture in feed. Use PDZ, it is a volcanic rock.. available as horse or goat stall refresher. at tsc/ about 10$ a bag…I put mine in 2 layers of old socks.. make a tube and put 2-3 around the inside and bottom of trash cans.. then fill with feed. when can gets low pull them ..pop in microwave or oven and heat them.to drive out moisture and prepare for next batch of feed. completely empty the feed container each time before refilling.

My first year i made cornbread for my new chicks thru the winter.. i added meat scraps, -anything we did not finish…The corn meal and flour was too old , from food storage stored improperly.
.. This year i have purchased extra oats, sunflower seed and some extra corn..I also have some other grains i can sprout./sour.. fly maggots are another option to increase available proteins, i do not see me doing that process.For those in Bear country it might be a magnet for them. You can give them old rice, It MUST be swelled.
Do not forget mineral supplements…coral calcium and some feed sea kelp for other minerals and iodine. I also give my girls back their own egg shells, i do toast and crush as fine as possible and put in a separate feeder.
We only have a few days they can not leave the coop.. normally… and plan for Abbey-normal..Having an area for dust-bathing inside is great fun,and keeps them mite free….pine sawdust, sand and DE is my mixture..1/3 ea.

I wanted chickens for the eggs and hoped to sell enough to help pay for the feed. My friends in San Diego sell their eggs for $10 a dozen. We in NM where I live they are going for $2 a dozen. Oh well, guess I will go make more ice cream.

old lady: Put on your thinking cap. Why aren’t you westbound I-10 for I-8 right now with a truckload of eggs? Quick hop up I-25, past where the water runs orange; there is a fella there with plenty of pack-fill. Make him drive, split the net.

Grow some asparagus and broccoli,,, lemons, make some fresh Hollandaise

old lady
One can not replace chicken feed at $2 a dozen. I pay my neighbor $4 a dozen & take her the scraps from the fruits & veges we have for her birds.
Have you looked at the freezing process? Depending on the amount of space you have in your freezer for such a project.

We had a hawk that seemed to be interested in the garden chickens.
We’ve kept them caged since….more feed, less free range.
Seems as if all feed stores well in cooler months, when well protected.
The hot, humid weather seems to be a factor with molds.
If only we had a livestock feed storage….free of rodents. A few given up freezers are our grain storage bins at the barn.
And the metal trash cans in the hen house.
Field mice are the target practice of the BB gun.

Joe c when you speak of caged chickens do you mean a chicken tractors? Then they can still free range within the limits of your moving that tractor. Almost hawk proof :-) as chickens seems to delight in escaping our protections.

Also chicken tractors can be used to help reduce bugs eating your garden. If you are able to over watch them a chicken wire, small tarp and PVC pipe tractor works well and is light to move.. We both know chicken wire will only stop birds so…

NHM
I responded to your comment a couple days ago.
Apparently, I forgot to hit post comment.
Long story, short

I do like your idea of a PVC tractor.
The other half has always wanted me to make one for her….
Well, not for her personally,

but her chickens.

Thanks

Good job calculating how much feed!

I use Purina Organic pellets & scratch…. It’s about double the cost, but the eggs are great, & the chickens seem to do better (for my chicks, nothing implied about how anyone else does it)

Many thanks to Ken and Old Homesteader for sharing your experience with buying and storing grain for feed of poultry. I recently lost a source of fresh eggs from a family that had all of their chickens die from unknown causes. Their eggs were pretty dirty when we got them versus eggs from other sources.

Cleanliness reflects attention to detail so I suspect any number of possibilities like: moldy feed or grain, a bacteria or virus among the flock. Their chickens died at the same time. ( all dead within a week ).

I did not have a chance to examine or observe the birds. I just heard about it after the fact. My question is, if the agent killing the birds was bacterial or viral, Should the chicken area be thoroughly cleaned prior to obtaining more birds? Should the old coop and lumber be burnt and start over again? Should they build a new coop in a different area?

This is in the Pacific Northwest on west side of the Cascades. Moisture and high humidity is a big problem here.

A full cleaning, maybe move the coop-run somewhere else if the soil might be contaminated by the disease vector. After the full cleaning a pressure washer with a little bleach would be my first thoughts.

Cail,,,,from my experience,,, I lost thousands of birds in half a hour to micotoxen ,i don’t think the bird house is a problem. But any thing to do with the feed is ,a good cleaning with water will do ,pressure wash or scrub brush. No shortcuts ,,,,coop cleaning the same once a year is good too,if eggs are dirty new bedding is called for , that helps with mites ,a tip on mites ,birds will get a scaily legs from mites. DW had a egg route when we met ,500 birds,would not sell dirty eggs that would clean up , we ate them and fed to dogs , not worth the possible E coil risk
Tea and chocolate

Should have added scaily legs can be fungle ,a simple bleach dip and bleach on the roost and clean litter will usual clean that up

Many thanks to NHM and Old Homesteader for the information. I have other sources for eggs. Most of those that are steady suppliers are doing the job right as evidenced by relatively few clean eggs that I am willing to pay a premium for. Clean eggs seem to reflect the care that growers put into care for their flock of birds.

I do not raise chickens at this time but I know something about disease process within populations of animals. You folks that raise chickens and have experienced losses as well as gains are an invaluable resource of knowledge on this site.

There are several growers I am bartering with by reloading empty brass for a discount on their meat, eggs and produce at present time.