Poultry Feed

Poultry Feed as Worm Food
Big Ol’ Bag of Poultry Feed. Let’s see what the worms think!

Ask any old time worm farmer to list off some good “foods” for helping to fatten your worms, and there’s probably a decent chance that “chicken laying mash” will be on that list. I’ve always been curious about this mysterious (to an suburban worm warrior like myself) material, and hoped to someday have the opportunity to test it out as a worm food.

Well, I’m not really sure if I actually have “official” chicken laying mash, but I do now have myself a nice quantity of “Poultry Feed” (recommended for a range of ages, but actually called “Chick Starter Complete”) and can’t wait to see what the worms think of it! I am especially excited given the fact that I now have a nice uniform food material to use in the small “vermiponics” system I am putting together this week!

Here are the specs for this food, in case you are curious:

Crude Protein…………Min 20.00% (not too shabby!)
Crude Fat…………Min 2.00%
Crude Fiber…………Max 4.5%
Calcium…………Actual 1.00%
Phosphorous…………Actual 0.75%
Sodium…………Actual 0.18%
Vitamin A…………Min 12000 IU/kg
Vitamin D3…………Min 2000 IU/kg
Vitamin E…………Min 20 IU/kg

My favorite line is what it says under “INGREDIENTS”:

A list of the ingredients used in these feed may be obtained from the manufacturer or registrant

Maybe I’ll write in to Purina just for kicks and giggles (and horror and screams?)

Poultry Feed - Up Close and Personal
With a little water, and a little rot, the worms should love this stuff!

I have plans to try out a variety of different “feeds”, including “Worm Chow” (believe it or not, Purina DOES indeed make this) if I can get a hold of it – but this chicken feed should get us off to the races for now!

Stay tuned!

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    • Igor
    • February 3, 2010

    I’ve just finished my shopping a few hours ago, and guess what I bought?
    It’s not that fancy like your purchase, but i got some (1.5 kg) of (I think you call it) corn meal – the polenta base ingredient. I might check for it’s specs, but I am not really sure I’ll find them since my item is a private label one (the cheapest).
    And, I can’t wait to see the results either.


    • Igor
    • February 3, 2010

    It says:
    7% protein,
    78% carbohydrates – mostly starch I guess
    0.7 % fats
    Energetic value 1470 kJ (346 kcal) per 100 grams.

    well, it seems somewhat different, but I guess all those carbohydrates will make an energy boom (so, careful).

    • Vee
    • February 4, 2010

    theirs a feed store that sells purina worm chow and its 16.95 for 50 pounds , that should last me a lifetime with the size of my bin. the worms love it , i stray with water in the morning and sprinkle it on and the next day its gone. When i add food scrapes i add alot less because it can go sour. I’m going to start feeding only the chow because i”m trying to build up my outside compost pile.

    • Vee
    • February 4, 2010

    also i use the chow on my red wigglers, europeans and african nightcrawlers:)

    • Kami
    • February 5, 2010


    I have not used chicken food for worms before but I have heard that sodium can be a problem. I think it is a problem if the mash is overfed or if the sodium builds up over time. Not sure how much of a problem it is, but thought I would tell you what I have heard.

    Even with the sodium, though, I have heard great things about chicken mash as worm food.

    • Eve
    • February 6, 2010

    When buying feed store grain don’t store it in your house. The grain can contain flour mites. Not a big problem when feeding chickens or worms but they can get out and infest the flour in your kitchen. If you get them in your kitchen they are very hard to get rid off.

    • Eve
    • February 6, 2010

    Wow! Sorry about all the typos on the last post. Note to self reread then send.

    • Bentley
    • February 6, 2010

    Igor – keep me posted on how they like the feed. Sounds interesting!
    Vee – thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Worm Chow. I will definitely have to try it at some point! Hopefully my local feed supply store (which carries a variety of Purina products) will be able to order it.
    Kami – nice to see you here again. Thanks for the info on the sodium. Hopefully the combination of continual flushing and plant uptake will help to limit any issues in that department.
    Eve – wow, I wasn’t aware of that. Thanks for the info. I don’t think my wife would be too pleased to have our flour etc infested with mites. She puts up with a lot as it is!

    Typos? What typos?

  1. Hi It is my first post…

    I use chicken feed all the time in my bins. I use them as an indicator when the worms are ready to be fed regular food after a harvest/transportation stress. I simply scatter them thinly on top of the bedding after 3 days of resting period. A handful can take up to 7 days to completely consumed. After the first batch is gone, I scatter another handful. This time, it may take only 3 days to disappear. After that, I know the worms are hungry enough to buffet on anything I bring to the bin.

    • Al Wright
    • February 11, 2010

    I also use the mash for my worms along with oatmeal and wheat bran. It’s like a breakfast buffet for my earth warriors. I keep it in my shed sealed in a plastic tub. I never thought about the mites, I did it just to keep the mice out. Mix a bit of sheepoop and yum, yum,they love it! I use it at one end of the bin to lure them so I can add more coir at the otrher end then the cycle continues. Coir, of course, is edible bedding and makes a great bin mix.

    • Gwen
    • May 6, 2010

    I am excited to try the worm chow and or the Chicken feed.. I live in Central Oregon where it is nothing but farms and more farms… I dont know if I can bring myself to ask for worm chow at the feed store but I can feel good about chicken food!! Yee haw!!!! Here we go!!!

  2. Layer mash would be good as it has extra calcium in it for the hens to lay nice strong eggs….Somehow I don’t think the ground oyster shell is small enough to feed the worms calcium like we did our parrots in CALIF.

    • Rick Szekeres
    • March 30, 2011

    When I saw the title, “Poultry Feed”, I thought it was going to be about using surplus compost worms as chicken feed. Not so. It’s about actually buying commerical feed for worms, which just baffles me. Anyhoo, let me tell you about my idea regarding chicken feed. I’ve got to warn you that I think “outside the box”… way outside. While researching natural alternatives to commerical cat litter, I read that unmedicated chick starter ($12 per 50 pounds) works quite well and is much cheaper than the store-bought stuff ($12 per 42 pounds). I then read on this site that Bentley had successfully used pet waste as worm chow. That got me to thinking. Imagine an 18” deep pit with a chicken coop above it. In the pit, I would use the deep litter method (adding bedding atop the chicken waste and compositing in-situ). But, I would add worms to work over the chicken manure/bedding mix. As an added bonus, the chickens would get quite a bit of Winter exercise hunting for worms to eat in the bedding while scratching madly in the deep litter, thereby providing additional tilling. Jumping back to the cat litter alternative (chicken feed)… I would add that (after use) to the deep litter and have the worms and chickens work that. As chickens are known for scavenging on manure piles for undigested grain, the “cat litter” would get recylced as either chicken or worm food and hopefully, that would limit the worm predation by the resident chickens. Is this a radical concept or what??? Other than the typical drawback of cat waste (toxoplasmosis), are there any drawbacks provided the compost is not used in the garden?

    • Stephen Shaw
    • May 29, 2011

    I have access (free) to a lot of Purina Catfood that is out of code and can’t be sold. Has anyone tried using this product with worms? Most of the ingredients are the same as Worm Chow. My only concern is that the fat content is 11%, much higher than Worm Chow. Unless someone says NO DON’T I will probably try it in a small test bed and post the results.

    • Bentley
    • May 31, 2011

    Interesting question, Stephen!
    I’d be a wee bit careful with it given the extra fat content, but yeah it’s certainly worth testing on a small scale. Please do keep us posted!

    Kind regards


    • Stephen Shaw
    • July 31, 2011

    Two months ago I asked the question ” Can you use dry catfood ( 11% fat ) to feed worms? “. I put about 1000 red wigglers in a Rubbermaid tub with bedding and a lot of the catfood. they have multiplied and seem to be thriving. Since I was able to get several hundred pounds of the feed free, I will probably put it in my compost pile and let them have at it!


    • Cindy
    • February 3, 2012

    Eve – weevils (or flour mites as you call them) can be found in almost every flour and grain product. When I bring flour, grains, rice, oats, etc., and dry pet food home from the store I place it immediately in the freezer for 72 hours – a week and then I place it in airtight containers. This kills the bugs and eggs.

    • Matthys
    • June 16, 2012

    Rick, great idea about the chickens and worms, it is working for me in my current set up of 50 sq feet deep litter and two chooks. Introduced redworms about two months ago and surprise! they are doing well (they are everywhere). I am sure the population is still growing, and hope to slowly upp my chook population and see how the worms can sustain their protein requirements. I add kitchen scraps from my family of five and the neighbours, anything really that would go into a normal worm farm, and it dissapears in a day:) i also believe this may relieve the pressure on the worm population. Like the cat litter in ur scenario. However, deep litter may not be thermophilic enoough to deal with pathogens in cat poop, which may find their way to ur eggs! It really happens! 🙂

    • Rick Szekeres
    • June 19, 2012

    Matthys, glad to hear that the worms can co-exist with your chooks. Do you think the “chick starter”, used as kitty litter, can be safely used in my deep bed litter if I scoop out the solids and hot compost those separately? Provided the cats have properly functioning kidneys, their urine should be sterile. I currently hot compost the manure/bedding from 11 horses in a 6’x6’x24′ windrow that often exceeds 150°F.

  3. Here’s a tip I don’t see here. Take the chicken mash crumbles as pictured above and run it through a coffee bean grinder to make it a fine powder. Much easier for the worms to deal with.

    • Lloyd
    • October 29, 2015

    Can I feed my worms dry dog food? What would be the big difference?

    • Bentley
    • October 30, 2015

    Great question, Lloyd!
    I wouldn’t recommend it, personally. It probably contains various meat bi-products etc – and overall, would likely have a much greater potential for going foul and attracting unwanted organisms (maggots etc).

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