Top 10 Ways To Save On Chicken Feed Costs

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While keeping chickens is a wonderful hobby, the feed bill, especially if you have many birds, can be expensive. Here are some ways to reduce feed costs and make chicken keeping more economical:

1. Let Your Chickens Free-range & Forage​

Top 10 Ways To Save On Chicken Feed Costs

Chickens that roam freely can find many foods to eat, reducing their need for commercial feed considerably. You must, however, ensure the ground they cover contains food of nutritional value, for example by sowing grass and plants they will eat. By finding free food, your chickens will require less commercial feed, so your feed bill will be lower.

Further Reading: Deciding To Free-Range Your Flock

2. Feed Them Table Scraps Occasionally​

Table scraps can be fed to chickens to reduce their feed expenses. Whenever you need them, your flock will be very happy to act as your personal scrap disposal. Our chickens provide us with a way to dispose of food without wasting it, ait. Many of these foods also contribute to the health of our flock and the meat and eggs they produce.

Further Reading: Table Scraps & Leftovers for Chickens

3. Prevent Feed Spillage & Waste​

Top 10 Ways To Save On Chicken Feed Costs

A chicken's messy, wasteful eating habits can result in a lot of waste, and spilled feed can result in lost money. It can be prevented by using the appropriate feeders (no waste, no spills). You can buy them or make them yourself.

Check out some innovative ones in BYC's Feeders & Waterers section

4. Keep Wild Birds and Other Pests Away from Feeders​

It doesn't take long for wild birds to learn where food is readily available, so you'll soon be attracting large flocks of wild birds and rodents to your chicken feeders. Feeders should be kept in an inaccessible place and/or shouldn't be left filled between feedings.

For information on how to deal with chicken pests, check out BYC's Chicken Predators & Pests section

5. Minimize the size of your flock​

Top 10 Ways To Save On Chicken Feed Costs

Feeding fewer beaks means paying less for feed. Non-productive flock members can, however, be sold or processed for consumption. You can recoup money by selling the chickens if you are not comfortable eating them. You will save money either way.

Further Reading: Chicken Math 101

6. Purchase Their Feed in Bulk​

Look around and ask about bulk buying, which can save you even more money. Split the feed (and costs) with other small-scale poultry keepers if you have a small flock. This will save you all money.

7. Purchase Their Feed from a Local Feed Mill​

There is generally a lot more savings to be had when purchasing feed from a local feed mill than from a feed store.

8. Feed Your Chickens Fermented Feed​

Top 10 Ways To Save On Chicken Feed Costs

You can ferment chicken feed by soaking it and then feeding it to your chickens. It's like a sourdough starter! Your birds will be healthier if you ferment their feed in order to make it easier for them to digest and to increase the probiotic and enzyme content. There are many other benefits as well!

Further Reading: Fermenting Chicken Feed: A Straightforward Method

9. Supplement with Sprout Grains & Fodder Occasionally​

It is especially helpful to have sprouts and fodder during the winter months when foraging is limited, or nonexistent, in many places. You can feed these to your flock as supplements to help meet their energy and nutritional requirements. In addition to providing your flock with nutrients and fiber, fodder is a cheap, simple alternative to chicken feed. In any case, it shouldn't be used as a replacement for chicken feed.

Further Reading: Inexpensive DIY Fodder Tower

10. Make Chicken Feed Yourself​

Saving money and improving the health of your flock can be achieved by making highly nutritious chicken feed at home. If you can locate a source of bulk grains and seeds, you're already halfway there. If you wish to feed your flock homemade feed, you may wish to do some research into the mixtures you can put together. Don't forget to check out this Homemade feed recipes thread, there are lots of suggestions!

A chicken's feed is one of the biggest expenses associated with raising chickens, so take a look at some (or all!) of the options above. Feed costs can be reduced by all of these ideas.

What are some of the ways you reduce feed costs? Feel free to leave a comment!
 
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tortoise

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I feed a lot of kitchen scraps, up to 50% of diet. I make "slaw" out of them using a food processor so they eat it all. I include meat scraps and fat in winter to help offset the low protein of veg scraps.

I save extra fat from butchering and feed it in winter.

I get expired/buggy dog and cat food from the local pet food shelf and from one veterinary clinic. I feed pet food up to 25% of the diet.

At sunset, I dump feeders into a bucket and store it in a rodent-proof barrel overnight. My biggest feed waste is rats, so taking up food at night makes a huge difference.
 

Trying2keepitReal

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I also feed a lot of kitchen scraps, pretty much anything goes (except those hard core no-nos), they love the fat and meat. Might not be the best for them but they have been happy, healthy and laying so far ;)

I wish we had a place to get old cat food here, I have on occasion supplemented with our cars food in the winter for an extra boost if needed.
 

tortoise

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I also feed a lot of kitchen scraps, pretty much anything goes (except those hard core no-nos), they love the fat and meat. Might not be the best for them but they have been happy, healthy and laying so far ;)

I wish we had a place to get old cat food here, I have on occasion supplemented with our cars food in the winter for an extra boost if needed.
The #1 health problem in backyard chicken is from too much veggie/table scrap / low protein diet. They're basically dinosaurs.

This morning my chickens got
  • leftover neck bone from soup,
  • leftover pasta (bad mom, I forgot to put leftovers away last night and it sat out overnight)
  • Meaty bone, fat and drippings from a mutton roast (mutton was from 2019, freezer burnt, for the dogs)
  • Cat food. Currently Cat Chow and they're not a fan. They LOVED the previous cat food, IDK what it was.
  • Layer pellets
Apple slaw from windfall apples is their next course. :gig. Spoiled chickens! :love

I sweep the floor after training dogs - biscuit crumbs everything!!!- and give that to the chickens too. They dont mind a little grit mixed in :gig
 
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flowerbug

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the free ranging aspect is one that would always concern me as while it is ok if a few birds are out there eating insects, but if you have too many birds in too small an area then you'll decimate the diversity of insects over time (and probably also the plants).

since i am primarily an organic/natural methods gardener those insects are critical to my gardens.
 

tortoise

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the free ranging aspect is one that would always concern me as while it is ok if a few birds are out there eating insects, but if you have too many birds in too small an area then you'll decimate the diversity of insects over time (and probably also the plants).

since i am primarily an organic/natural methods gardener those insects are critical to my gardens.
Do you have ideas for improving foraging opportunities in small runs?

My chickens' outdoor runs get picked and scratched bare.

DS15 put sod down following edging overgrown cement. I thought that was a great idea! DS7 likes to rake leaves and dump them in. Its not much, doesnt go far.

My only remaining idea is to build a chicken tunnel to get them out of the run. But that will have the same problems eventually.

How do I get bugs back in these areas?
 

Trying2keepitReal

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Do you have ideas for improving foraging opportunities in small runs?

My chickens' outdoor runs get picked and scratched bare.

DS15 put sod down following edging overgrown cement. I thought that was a great idea! DS7 likes to rake leaves and dump them in. Its not much, doesnt go far.

My only remaining idea is to build a chicken tunnel to get them out of the run. But that will have the same problems eventually.

How do I get bugs back in these areas?
Same here-run bare. We do the rake leaves and throw in and clippings from lawn if it is long. I have thought about grower boxes (grasses and grains they will eat in essentially garden boxes with covering until they grow tall enough and chickens can't scratch out seed or eat the young greens) and then uncover them when ready. I did have two planters that I put in some herbs and peas this year, near the end of the season I just put the whole box in their run.
 

flowerbug

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i think the chicken tractors are the best idea i've seen so far for small flocks. this way you can limit their actions to one area for a while and then move it and let that area recover.

i think the overall problem happens to any kind of animal that feeds on an area in that it will always eat the stuff it likes the best first and then gradually get to other things, but leaves the worst of the weeds or bugs alone entirely so those get a boost from having less competition (and also more fertilizer from what was eaten and then pooed out). humans do it too, we eat the yummies. :)

if you have gardens you can rotate the chickens through i think that also helps give each a break for a while. fallow some areas for a season and leaving wild strips that can be an insect refuge.
 

FarmerJamie

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the free ranging aspect is one that would always concern me as while it is ok if a few birds are out there eating insects, but if you have too many birds in too small an area then you'll decimate the diversity of insects over time (and probably also the plants).

since i am primarily an organic/natural methods gardener those insects are critical to my gardens.
I had 20+ birds on about an acre they actively foraged. Research I have done says 50 per acre is fine.
In my experience, my chickens weren't selective. They chowed on everything equally.

So it depends.
@tortoise my first coops I built were mobile. I could move them and then reset the fencing. Granted, I had low predator worries. When I got the "fixed" coop, I had to be creative, but it worked.
 

murphysranch

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I simmered parts of a Filipino roast pig that I scavenged from a party. I parted it up and put in in five crock pot intervals. Simmered each pot for 24 hours. Chickens will get all the non human parts including all the bones that I smooshed with my fingertips. I mix it with leftovers that DD (who is wasteful) gives me.
 
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