You can feed chickens on a budget! There are several simple things that you can do to cut your feed cost substantially. This is a list of 17 best tips if you are looking to feed your chickens on a budget. Try a few or try them all. The more you start using, the more you will find that you save.
1. Ferment Chicken Feed
|BENEFITS OF FERMENTING|
|DECREASES FOOD COST|
|INCREASES VOLUME OF FEED|
|CHICKENS EAT LESS|
|UNLOCKS ADDITIONAL NUTRIENTS|
BACTERIA IN GUT
|AIDS IN DIGESTION|
|CREATES HEALTHIER CHICKENS|
|INCREASES EGG PRODUCTION|
|HOW TO FERMENT|
|STEP 1||USE DISTILLED WATER|
|STEP 2||ADD 1 PART WATER, |
2 PARTS FEED TO
JAR OR BUCKET
|STEP 3||PLACE LID ON |
|STEP 4||STIR AT LEAST|
1 TIME/DAY FOR
|STEP 5||STRAIN WATER FROM|
|STEP 6||FEED CHICKENS!|
It is normal to see bubbles at the top of the jar or bucket. This is what happens during the fermentation process.
The feed will expand. If you need to, add additional distilled water. It takes about 3 days to get a yeasty, yogurt smell. If it smells bad or has mold on it, discard it.
Due to the feed expanding and more nutrients being unlocked, you will notice that your chickens will eat less!
For detailed information on fermenting your chicken feed, read my article How to Ferment Chicken Feed – 6 Simple Steps (Photos).
2. Breed Mealworms
Instead of buying mealworms for your chickens at your local pet store, you will save a lot of money if you either order in bulk or start your own mealworm farm!
I highly recommend you try breading your own mealworms for your chickens. It is so simple to do and takes very little space to do it.
For more information on how to breed mealworms, read my article How to Breed Mealworms at Home – Best Setup Guide.
3. Breed Crickets
Local pet stores will sell crickets for .07-.12 per cricket, but if you purchase in bulk online you can get them for as little as .02 a cricket.
Buy crickets once and start your own cricket farm! It is not that difficult to do and you will be able to provide never ending treats, high in nutrition for your chickens.
4. Make Chicken Fodder
Making your own chicken fodder, not only will save on chicken feed cost, but it will benefit your chickens in so many other ways too!
|10 BENEFITS OF GROWING|
|1||FRESH GREENS ALL YEAR LONG|
|2||MAKES GRAINS EASIER |
|4||UNLOCKS 45% |
|5||DECREASED FEED COST|
|8||THICKER EGG SHELLS|
|9||GRAINS STRIPPED OF|
|10||DEEPER ORANGE YOLK|
For more information on how to grow your own chicken fodder, read my article How to Make Chicken Fodder – Step by Step 7 Day Guide with Photos.
5. Feed Table Scraps
New chicken keepers often ask, “Is it safe to feed chickens table scraps?” Yes, as long as you offer your chickens their regular feed first and your table scraps do not include sugary, salty, moldy or poisonous foods. Table scraps should not consist of more than 10% of their daily food intake.https://BackyardChickensMama.com
It’s important to do your homework and not feed anything to your chickens that is poisonous to them. Some common foods that are poisonous to chickens are apple seeds, apricot leaves and pits, avocado skins and seeds, rhubarb, eggplant leaves and chocolate.
For a list of more things that are toxic to chickens, read the article Things that are Toxic to Chickens by Open Sanctuary.
For more tips on feeding table scraps to your chickens, read my article Is it Safe to Feed Chickens Table Scraps? 5 Important Tips.
6. Let Chickens Free-Range
Allowing chickens to free range, gives them access to all kinds of insects, seeds, flowers and greens that can cut down on your feed cost. Chickens that are allowed access to sunshine and free range are healthier chickens, providing eggs that are nutritionally better for you!
Letting your chickens free range can help to get rid of bugs around your property. Chickens love to eat grubs, June bugs, grass hoppers, crickets, beetles.
7. Feed Egg Shells Back to Hens
Don’t throw away your egg shells from your chickens. They are an excellent source of calcium that can be fed back to them.
Set the egg shells aside dry out. You can place them in an oven at 275° for one hour or let them set out in the sunshine for awhile.
Once dried out, crush them up and serve them back to your chickens. It is always best to offer calcium in a separate container. Don’t mix it with their food because they can accidentally consume too much calcium this way. Chickens will only eat as much calcium as they need.
8. Ask Neighbors and Restaurants to Save Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
There is a lot of food that is going to waste that is perfectly fine for your chickens to eat. Ask neighbors and local restaurants to save their leftovers from preparing salads, such as zucchini, tomato and pepper tops that usually get discarded.
During the fall, don’t discard your jack ‘o lantern. Give it to the chickens to devour! You can ask your neighbors to do the same.
9. Feed Trimmings from Vegetable Garden and Trees
When it comes time to trim your fruit trees, don’t forget to give some leaves and fruit to your chickens. Avoid apricot and apple trees though because they are poisonous to your chickens.
They absolutely love plums and leaves on plum trees. I will occasionally clip a few branches throughout the growing season and let my chickens enjoy them. They will strip it down to an empty branch.
Chickens also love peach, nectarine, persimmons and their leaves.
Watermelon is a summertime favorite for my chickens, seeds and all! It helps to cool them down when we are having extreme heat waves.
For other helpful tips on how to cool your chickens during extreme heat, read my article 17 Tips – How to Keep Chickens Cool in Extreme Heat.
10. Sell Chicken Eggs to Pay for Regular Feed
You will be surprised at how may people are interested in eating farm fresh chicken eggs! Depending upon where you live, one dozen farm fresh eggs can sell for anywhere from $4-10 per dozen.
I like to choose chickens that lay a variety of different color eggs so I can provide a beautiful carton of eggs for my customers.
If you want a nice variety of colors, get some Crested Cream Legbars for the blue eggs. Olive Eggers lay a variety of different shades of green eggs. Marans lay some dark chocolate brown eggs. It’s also nice to have some light brown eggs from Orpington chickens and some small cream colored eggs from Silkie chickens.
11. Sell Chickens that are not Productive
If you are looking to save money and you own chickens, you may consider selling the chickens that are not productive. Hens are at the peak of their laying around year 1-2 and gradually decrease in how many eggs they lay per week after this.
There are many people that will be willing to buy 3 year old laying hens. Use the money you make from selling unproductive hens and put it towards your feed cost.
12. Feed Lawn Clippings, Weeds
Don’t throw away your lawn clippings and weeds. Your chickens will absolutely love these! Just make sure they have not been sprayed with any pesticides or fertilizer.
This is not only healthy for your chickens, but for you too! The eggs they lay will be nutritionally better for you and tastier too!
If you compare an egg from a factory farm chicken to a chicken that is allowed to graze on greens, flowers and bugs, you will notice that the chickens that have access to bugs, flowers and weeds lay eggs that have a deeper orange yolk.
13. Suet Cakes at Dollar Store
Check your local dollar store in the gardening section for suet cakes. This makes an excellent treat for your chickens to hang in the chicken run. It is filled with sunflower seeds and wheat or oat flakes mixed with suet, coconut oil.
For other chicken supplies that you can get at your local dollar store, read my article 23 Important Chicken Supplies – Purchase at Your Dollar Store.
You can also make your own suet cakes. If you are breeding mealworms and or crickets at home, try adding some to your suet balls. Hang them in the chicken run and watch them duck and peck at them. This is a definite boredom buster for chickens!
For more information on how to keep your chickens entertained, read my article What Are Some Simple Boredom Busters for Backyard Chickens?
14. Ration Food
Don’t leave Food Out all Day. Chickens will overeat if you give them more food than they need. A full grown adult chicken will eat about 1/4 lb. of feed a day. This is the equivalent to 1/2 cup of layers feed.
It is important to still offer layers feed to your hens even if they free range. Free range chickens that have daily access to fresh greens, flowers, bugs, seeds, etc. will lay eggs that are nutritionally better for you!
Any food that is not eaten at the end of the day should be taken in. Chickens do not need to eat at night and leaving it out is only inviting predators to your coop. You don’t want to give them any reason to visit your chicken coop.
For more information on how to feed your chickens on a budget, read my article 17 Best Tips-How to Feed Chickens on a Budget.
15. Compost Chicken Manure
You already have the chickens and manure, so why not make your own garden soil by composting the manure? Chickens absolutely love, scratching through the compost pile looking for bugs, seeds and other wonderful treats. They help you by adding more manure to the pile and turning the compost!
For more information on how to make your own garden soil with chicken manure, read my article How to Make Garden Soil Out of Chicken Manure.
16. Hang Chicken Feeders to Reduce Waste
Chickens like to peck and scratch. It is their innate behavior to do this. It is important to give them time to do this. But if you want to eliminate food waste, put the feed in a hanging feeder. This stops them from being able to scratch their feed, scattering and wasting it.
17. Plant an Herb Garden (Dollar store)
Check your local dollar tree out for packs of herb, flower and fruit seeds. Scatter these close to your chicken coop and run to grow some herbs, fruits and veggies especially for your chickens! When you clean your chicken waterers out, dump them in your chicken garden area.
When you wash your boots off after leaving your chicken coop, wash them off over your garden area.
There are many herbs that act as rodent repellants too! For more information on how to use herbs around your chickens, read my article 5 Important Ways To Use Herbs Around Your Chickens.
Conclusion: How to Feed Chickens on a Budget
Now that you know how to feed chickens on a budget, what will you start doing to save on your feed cost? I would suggest to begin by choosing a couple ways. Give it a few weeks and you will see the savings begin to accumulate. The more you try, the more you will save!
What have you done to help cut your chicken feed cost?