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What Is Better For Chickens? Pellets Or Crumbles?


When it comes to feeding chickens, there are two different kinds of feed you will find available: pellets and crumbles. Chickens will eat either one of them and they have very similar ingredients. Whether you are new to raising chooks or you are just interested in learning what’s what, there are a few similarities and differences between the two that I can help you understand! 

Neither pellets nor crumbles are necessarily better for chickens, and it is fine to use one or the other, or both. Nutritionally, they provide the same benefits

Even though pellets and crumbles are nutritionally similar, there are a few differences that you may want to know about to help you decide which is best for you and your flock. Thankfully, chickens aren’t too picky, and you can’t seem to go wrong with either one in the end.

So sit back and relax as I help you understand and choose what feed would be best to keep your chooks happy! 

Are Pellets Or Crumbles Better For Chickens? 

While I say that it is ok to use either one, that is because they use a lot of the same ingredients.

They are a very similar product, just presented in a different form. Chicken feed, whether it is in crumble or pellet form, is a mixture of grains, protein, vitamins and minerals. Depending on if you have chosen to use organic feed, both types should provide your chickens with the same level of nutritional value. 

So what should you use? Which one is better, pellets or crumbles?

Well, it truly is up to you and maybe your chickens. Both pellets or crumbles will accomplish the same goal of keeping your flock well-fed, happy and laying healthy eggs.

However, if you notice that your chickens aren’t eating all of their feed and are just picking at it, you may want to look into switching it up to something else. Some hens prefer one texture or shape over another. Chickens have their own individual tastes and preferences as we do! 

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What’s The Difference Between Crumbles And Pellets?

Chicken pellets and crumbles are essentially the same things in different shapes and forms. But there are most definitely differences between the two, such as their texture, the way they’re manufactured, convenience and yum factor. 

Feed Texture 

The texture can play a large role in the feed preferences of your chickens, so be sure to pay attention to what your birds seem to eat more of. The shape and texture depend on the way the feed is processed and manufactured.

Pellets are hard, small, uniform and tube-shaped pieces of food that are made from the process of mashing up grains, protein and other supplements. There tends to be less mess and waste from the pellets.

Crumbles are broken and reshaped pellets that are different in size and consistency. Many chickens prefer the crumbles because of their shape and non-uniformity, but they are certainly messier and more wasteful. 

I have found that my chickens prefer the crumbles, but I also provide a small number of pellets that they also will eat throughout the day. One hen never eats the crumbles, while the others seem to enjoy it the most. 

Chicken Feed Manufacturing 

The way that a chicken’s feed is manufactured plays a large role in what the feed turns out to be.

Both pellets and crumbles are derived from ‘mash’. Chicken mash is made up of crushed grains, protein (ground mealworms) and meal supplements. It is designed to be a complete feed that is often fed to young chickens because it is smaller and in easier-to-digest pieces. 

Pellets 

Chicken pellets are made up of mash, which has been heated and formed into a hard and compact pellet shape. It is also nutritionally balanced and complete, composed of all the appropriate protein and minerals meant for a healthy flock.

Pellets are best when given to adult chickens because young birds may have a hard time digesting the large pieces. There is less mess and waste when you feed your chickens pellets, they are forced to eat the whole pieces instead of scratching away the smaller ones. 

Crumbles 

Crumbles are made from pellets, but they are broken and rolled into a smaller shape. These tend to be more expensive than mash and pellets because of the extra cost and step of forming the pellets into a different shape.

The crumbles tend to be a more popular choice with the chickens as they find them more interesting and fun to scratch for. These are a good choice when converting chicks to a more adult feed instead of jumping straight to pellets. 

Yum Factor! 

Overall, the majority will say that crumbles are preferred by chickens over pellets. All chickens are different, and you will notice that some of your flock prefers one type of feed over the other. The flavor will be very similar, so most of the time they are choosing one shape or texture over the other, not necessarily because of the way it tastes. 

It’s completely fine and normal to use both pellets and crumbles to keep it mixed up a bit. You really can’t go wrong with either one, unless you are basically throwing your money onto the ground or into a trough. If the birds don’t want it, don’t buy it! Maybe just try a different brand, just be aware of what your chooks are eating and what they are leaving on the ground. 

Convenience 

The convenience factor is also taken into consideration when choosing between pellets and crumbles. Usually, pellets are preferred only because they are more readily available than crumbles and come in a variety of different costs and brands. 

Because pellets are all the same size and shape, they can offer the most consistency in each bite, plus they are a low mess and less waste than crumbles. However, crumbles are the easiest to eat and are a great quick-feed option for younger or very old chickens. Plus, chickens love to scratch at the ground looking for the crumble feed, keeping them busy and actively looking for food all day. 

Cost Comparison 

The cost of your pellets and crumbles will obviously depend on whether or not you want organic feed and the overall quality. In general, pellets will be less expensive than crumbles because there is one less step in the manufacturing process. 

You can find organic pellets ranging from 60$ with the Manna Pro Layer Pellets (30 lbs) to 33$ Purina Nutritionally Complete Layer Feed (25 lbs). Both of which have great reviews and are a balanced and delicious option for your chooks. 

Chicken crumbles are also made by Manna Pro, coming in an 8 lb bag they cost about 16$. Purina makes a form of chicken crumbles too, costing about 32$ for a 25 lb bag.  

Should I Choose Pellets Or Crumbles For My Flock Of Chickens? 

When it comes to making a decision, pellets or crumbles, it is going to come down to your own preference. How much are you ok with your chickens wasting? Are you only worried about the cost? What do your chickens seem to enjoy the most? You will need to know the answers to these questions when you are making the final decision. 

BUT, if you are looking for a definitive answer, I personally think that pellets are the best option. Not only because they are less messy and wasteful, but I’ve found that crumbles tend to attract more rodents and I feel less confident that my chickens are getting a balanced portion in every piece. 

According to a survey taken on backyardchicken.com, most chicken owners agree that pellets are their favorite choice for chicken feed (52% of the answers prefer pellets vs 35% for crumbles). Not necessarily what the chickens prefer, though. 

Making The Choice: Crumbles VS Pellets 

I recommend using pellets as long as your chickens are adults and can eat and digest them properly. Don’t hesitate to try them both if you are curious. I personally like to provide my flock with both crumbles and pellets for some fun and to change it up a bit. After all, I would get bored eating the same thing every single day too! 

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Allison Salonko

I'm a Veterinary Technician with 10+ years of experience in the field. I am using my passion for writing in between working with animals and spending time with my family.

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