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What Can You Grow for Your Own Animal Feed

what to grow for animal feed

Raising livestock can be a very fulfilling and profitable experience. However, homesteads often face problems regarding the feed and its expenses.

If you are on a tight budget or still starting, this question probably popped into your mind, “what can you grow for animal feed?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of livestock food options that you can grow in your backyard! 

In this article, you will learn about what you can grow for animal feed and how to make a livestock feed out of it. Most homesteads are doing it and have saved a lot of money since then.

When you purchase food for livestock along with supplements, you’d be surprised at how much it comes to.

Growing your animal feed does not only help you save money, but it also provides safe, organic, and healthy livestock food for your animals.

growing greens for chickens

What Can You Grow for Animal Feed?

You are probably raising poultry and livestock altogether and have considered making the animal feed to make ends meet.

While it may be an added chore for other farmers, some would say it takes some of the worries of raising livestock.

The best way to make animal feeds is to start growing your own. You’d be surprised at how many crops and how easy you can grow them yourself.


This livestock food is high in nutrients and used by farmers for many years. Corn is considered one of the main ingredients in animal farm feed.  

If you have enough planting land, you can quickly grow the healthiest types of corn. Here are several varieties that most farmers grow.

Grazing Corn

You can grow this type of corn for your consumption. Graze corn can become grass-like after 70 to 90 days upon planting.

Once it’s mature enough, you can cut the crop or let your livestock out into the field. This also makes an ideal option if you’re growing pig feed.

Dent Corn

This is an old-fashioned field corn type that has been around since our great grandfathers. It matures in 85 to 110 days.

Dent corns are easy to grow and prolific. The kernels are soft and delicious, and you can give them to your livestock along with their green stalks.  

Sweet Corn

This type is prevalent not only as a feed but also in other forms like freezing and canning. If you are growing your animal feed, having sweet corn can be very beneficial.

It matures in 95 to 110 days, and you can easily feed fresh cornstalks. However, provide the appropriate proportions since too much of it can cause digestive problems.

Crop Residue

There will always be crop residue after the harvest. Please don’t throw them away as it is considered the most cost-efficient livestock food. 

Aside from providing freshly picked crops, you can give these residues to your farm animals.

However, these don’t have much nutritional value, and over-consumption may cause health issues.


If you’re looking at growing animal feeds, you should have pumpkins and squash on the list. They are high in fiber, protein, and good fat.

Pumpkins and squash are also grown in winter, which shouldn’t give you any problem with your feeding stock at that time.

You can even consume this fruit and give the scraps to your livestock. 

ALSO READ: Is It Safe To Feed My Chickens Table Scraps?


This root crop is highly encouraged for its beta-carotene content, and it’s an excellent winter food for livestock.

If you’re wondering how to grow cattle feed, carrots happen to be the main component.

Carrots mature in 70 to 80 days, adaptable to any vegetation environment. You may want to choose the large varieties since they last longer than smaller ones.


This refers to large beets that have high water and sugar content. It is one of the favorites among the food for livestock.

It takes 90 to 100 days for Mangels to mature.

If you plan to grow your horse feed, you may consider this crop but make sure to harvest it before the cold season. 


Are you growing greens for chickens? Well, seeds are not precisely leafy vegetables, but they are favorites among poultry. 

Seeds, especially those in sunflowers, have good protein and beneficial fats. On the other hand, cows and cattle love to munch on sunflower heads while pigs enjoy nibbling on their stems.


Aside from being a popular livestock food, potatoes are an excellent energy source. However, they would need supplemental food for protein and other vitamins. 

You can feed these potatoes raw to most livestock. But if you’re growing food for pigs, it’s best if you cook this root crop before feeding to your swine.

The best thing about growing your animal feed is that your vegetation can benefit you as a consumer and a seller.

You can sell these crops while setting aside a few fresh ones and other vegetation waste for your livestock.

growing your own animal feed

Types of Livestock Food You Can Grow

When figuring out how to make animal feeds, you shouldn’t be limited to crops alone. There are plenty of livestock food types that you can try out. 

Root Crops 

Typical livestock food under this category is potatoes and carrots.


If you grow greens for chickens, herbs are an excellent choice for your poultry.


The popular kind is the sunflower since it’s easy to grow and has a lot of benefits. All of its parts (e.g., seeds, stalk, flower head) can be used as food for livestock.


The sweetness and water content of fruits provide extra flavor and nutrients to your livestock feed. This also includes pumpkin, squash, and tomatoes. 


You can raise worms and feed them to your birds. They are a great protein source and inexpensive to maintain.

Feed Crops

While corn is a common feed crop to grow for animal feed, you can also try growing barley, wheat, and oats.

Just make sure to give barley to dairy animals only since it’s hard to digest for other livestock. 


You can grow certain types of grass and add them to your fodder. You can even toss the grass to your animals, and they will love it!

Also, lawn scraps are not what you can grow for animal feed, but it’s what you get from mowing your lawn. And this animal feed plants work perfectly well too!

You don’t have to worry much about what feed to grow. Livestock and poultry have a wide range of diets in which you can easily mix two or more types of animal feed plants.

For instance, pigs have a versatile appetite, so growing pig feed shouldn’t be a problem. They’d even love having leftover squash, potatoes, and greens on their menu.

grow for animal feed

Why You Should Start Growing Your Animal Feed 

Raising livestock is already a handful. Is growing your animal feed worth the extra time and effort?

There are plenty of reasons why you should start making animal feed. For starters, you could save a lot of money in the long run compared to buying commercial meals all the time.

Now that there’s an answer to the question about what you can grow for animal feed, you may be asking why you should be doing it in the first place.

Here is a list of advantages of letting your feed grow in your backyard (and why farmers would prefer doing this):

Save Money

By making animal feed and growing greens for chickens, you can utilize the crops and vegetative scraps found in your area.

Poultry and other livestock have a big appetite, and providing them with sufficient feeds can be costly.

Manage Your Supply

You can control the number of crops to feed your livestock. You also have less to worry about your supply since growing your animal feed gives you more access and stockpile.

Avoid Preservatives

You can steer clear of preservatives and other food chemicals when you know how to make livestock feed.

Organic, Safe Feed

With what you can grow for animal feed, you can guarantee that every crop is organic and toxin-free since you’d be making the planting environment safe firsthand. 

Better Egg and Meat Productivity

Most crops and plants are full of nutrients that help your livestock achieve optimal health, including improving their meat and egg productivity.

Manage Scraps and Vegetative Wastes

If you’re worried about the scraps from growing your own animal feed, how about you add those wastes as livestock food instead?

Farm animals are a fan of vegetative scraps, making their meals more interesting.

How to Grow Your Own Animal Feed

After questioning and getting answers about what you can grow for animal feed, the next thing on your mind is how you will do it.

There are simple means to start making your animal feed. 

Whether you have acres of land or a small farm, there are different methods to grow crops to feed your livestock.

Hence, here are some ways how to grow your own animal feed:

Plant Directly into Your Pasture 

This works perfectly if you want to grow your own horse feed. Grass and other crops thrive on pasture land. 

Once your crops mature, it becomes easy to feed this to your livestock since you can set them free into your fenced pasture to forage and munch around.

Create a Separate Garden 

It’s best to keep your farm animals and growing crops separately. Otherwise, your livestock may end up eating most animal feed plants before you notice.

Also, a separate garden helps you control the environment to keep the crops healthy. You may even create more patches of crops for yourself.

Grow Greens for Chickens Vertically 

Do you lack space in your backyard? You can start growing for animal feed vertically.

You can maximize most of your space with vertical gardening. You can even start hanging a few pots by the walls in your backyard. 

Container Gardening for Animal Feed Plants 

Do you have a smaller homestead? This shouldn’t discourage you from making your feed grow.

You can use containers, even used ones, to stretch your budget not only for your livestock food but for gardening itself.

But what can you grow for animal feed in containers? 

Carrots do well in pots. There are also other animal feed plants that need less soil space and can grow healthily in small containers. 

Cold Frame Greenhouses

With this contraption, you can grow for animal feed even during cold climates. They don’t require electricity, and you can store plenty of animal feed plants over the season. 

Set Aside Garden Wastes and Vegetative Waste

You may see a few scraps after a harvest and consider throwing them. But don’t toss them away!

You can feed your livestock with leftovers at no extra cost. The best part here is that your animals will love them!

how to grow cattle feed and feeding grass to cows

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Animal Feed

If you still have doubts and a few questions in mind, here are some answers to them:

Can You Start Making Animal Feed on Your Own?

Yes, you can create your own food for livestock. With the animal-feed plants you’ve grown, you can mix them for their feed. 

Putting crops and garden vegetables into the livestock food will give them all the nutrients they need.

However, if you’re hesitant about their nutritional value, you may seek advice from a local vet or expert.

What Animal Feed Plants Can You Grow as a Beginner

Raising livestock isn’t easy, and so is gardening. Fortunately, several crops are easy to grow and recommended for beginners.

A few of the easy-to-grow food for livestock are mangel, pumpkins, winter squash, tromboncino, and dent corn. 

Is it Easy Growing Food for Pigs?

If you are growing food for pigs, you shouldn’t have much to worry about since pigs eat almost anything you produce.

Swine are known to have a good appetite, and this should work according to your advantage. 

Just a little reminder, when growing pig feed, potatoes should be boiled or cooked before feeding them to swine. Otherwise, it might cause digestive problems.

Is Growing Greens for Chickens Cheaper and More Effective?

Chickens are excellent foragers, and farmers would sprinkle a few treats to keep these birds busy. Also, growing chicks and laying hens would need a lot of nutrients from animal feed plants. 

You can save a lot from growing greens for chickens than constantly buying costly poultry feeds since these birds eat a lot.

The best greens for chickens include kale, lettuce, chard, and turnip greens. 

what can you grow for animal feed for chickens

What Can You Grow for Animal Feed Conclusion

You probably have your hands complete with raising livestock. Do you think it’s a good idea to start growing your animal feed?

It’s twice the work, but it’s worth it, significantly how much you can save in the long run. You would also be surprised with the number of benefits you can get from making animal feed on your own. 

After asking about what you can grow for animal feed, you probably have a list of crops and animal feed plants to try out by now.

There are also plenty of ways to grow your own animal feed regardless of your homestead size. 

The bottom line is that you can save more and ensure better quality in the food for livestock when you grow them yourself.

However, if you want to add more supplements to the livestock food, you can seek help from experts in your local area.

READ NEXT: Organic Chicken Feed: What to Know Before Buying


Grow for Your Own Animal Feed

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