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Cheapest way to feed free range laying hens?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a less expensive way to feed my six hens and one rooster.  I am currently feeding them 1-50lb. bag of Purina Layena and 1-50lb. bag of cracked corn every 2-3 weeks.  I mix the corn and layena 50/50.  They also free range on about 1/4 acre. 
This is becoming more expensive than the eggs are worth.  I'd probably spend less if I were to buy the eggs from a grocery store.  Now that I think about it, with the amount that I'm compelled to give away, I think that I am spending more...
Are there any less-expensive alternatives that won't signifigantly impact egg production and my girls' health?

Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
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Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
post #2 of 21

I used to have only six laying hens and had the same issue. I found one person willing to buy eggs at $3 per dozen once a week. I delivered them to her house a couple streets down. I also sold them to different people in my family. Stop giving away your quality eggs and start selling them. You will make up the feed money and maybe earn a couple bucks. Either way, the eggs you are getting from your girls are better quality than any egg you will find in the store.
and welcome-byc


Edited by ekemily - 6/28/10 at 7:11pm
post #3 of 21

Are there any little groceries near you? The nationals are not allowed (rolls eyes) to give away their old produce, rather pay dump fees, but small grocers are more human.
Ask if you can please come a take away all the veggie clippings and culled fruit.

I have 9 layers and use a 50# bag about every 9-10 weeks. and it's always in their hopper, they just prefer to free range.

post #4 of 21

Is there a grain elevator within reasonable driving distance?  We found a farmer about 13 miles from us who mills his own feed and sells (word of mouth) 100 pounds of layer ration for $16.  You have to return your empty bag when you pick up your next.  I'm amazed at how much your birds eat while also ranging.  We have 5 adullts and 13 chicks who go through aprox. 50 pounds a month.  Good luck!

post #5 of 21

How much feed they require depends on the quality of what they get while free ranging.  The more bugs, etc., the less feed they will eat.  A nice big pile of mulch of compost is a sure winner for attracting wiggly chicken food.

I also give my birds table scraps.  All those veggies the kids won't eat?  The crust my 3 year old insists be trimmed off her PB&J?  Stale crackers?  Delish!  The birds adore them.  I feel better about not wasting food, and it helps a bit with the feed bill. 

In addition to checking small groceries, you could also look into local bakeries.  They often throw out 2 or 3 day old bread.  they might give it to you or sell it to you quite inexpensively.  I feed white bread VERY sparingly, but you can feed a bit more whole grain.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by corvinuscrow 

I'm looking for a less expensive way to feed my six hens and one rooster.  I am currently feeding them 1-50lb. bag of Purina Layena and 1-50lb. bag of cracked corn every 2-3 weeks.  I mix the corn and layena 50/50.  They also free range on about 1/4 acre. 
This is becoming more expensive than the eggs are worth.  I'd probably spend less if I were to buy the eggs from a grocery store.  Now that I think about it, with the amount that I'm compelled to give away, I think that I am spending more...
Are there any less-expensive alternatives that won't signifigantly impact egg production and my girls' health?


I go through about that much feed at the same rate, but I have about 45 chickens! They also free range in an area about the same amount of space. I think you maaaaayyy be giving them more than they really need as far as scratch (is cracked corn the same thing?) I dont think I've ever read about anyone doing a 50/50 ratio of that kind. Try a farmers market at the end of the day, the vendors are often eager to get rid of the left overs that wouldnt sell (at a really steep discount), I just cut out the bad parts and feed them to my flock.

Now I'm curious to find out if cracked corn is the same as scratch? If it is, scratch is supposed to be a treat, not a food substitute, and often the chickens will dig through the layena, dumping it on the ground ignored, just to gorge on the scratch. May be you can seperate the feed from the scratch and see how much of each they are eating? Scratch is not very nutritious, its more like candy for them, they dont even need it and can live very happily with out it. Maybe just giving them Layena and no scratch will help costs?

Take a deep breath.........................you'll need it!
I am a shameless promoter of BYC and an enabler to poor, sad, chickenless people. I always have a chick or 3 to help you start your flock....c'mon, its easy and fun, remember- a joy shared IS a joy doubled!
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Take a deep breath.........................you'll need it!
I am a shameless promoter of BYC and an enabler to poor, sad, chickenless people. I always have a chick or 3 to help you start your flock....c'mon, its easy and fun, remember- a joy shared IS a joy doubled!
Reply
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

@ekemily Good point. It's not neccesarily the giving the eggs away that is a problem though (they are in excess and I'm happy to give).  I would just like to find a cheaper way to feed the hens...
Thank you for the welcome.
@En Plein Air Farms  They must trash produce by the ton at the supermarket...
@Oxfordmom  I don't know... I've seen a few silos around but would feel strange knocking on a farmer's door to ask what he's got going on in there, haha.
@TurkeyMountainChickens  I think I'm going to start doing that.  I've been trying to think of ways to increase the amount of bugs in the yard.  Haha, all my ideas were too disgusting.  Mulch is a great idea though.  Thanks.

Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
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Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by corvinuscrow 

. . . 1-50lb. bag of Purina Layena and 1-50lb. bag of cracked corn every 2-3 weeks.  I mix the corn and layena 50/50.  They also free range on about 1/4 acre.  . . ?


50 pounds + 50 pounds = 100 pounds / 7 birds = 14.29 / 14 days = 1 + pound per chicken each day
50 pounds + 50 pounds = 100 pounds / 7 birds = 14.29 / 21 days = .7 pound per chicken each day

It looks like you are really losing feed and getting ZERO value from your free range. At a pound of feed per bird each day, perhaps you are feeding a LOT of sparrows, mice, or something else -- not just the chickens. Or, they are wasting half of it or more on the ground.

A leghorn-type hen will eat about 1/4 pound of feed each day. A dual-purpose will eat 1/3 to 1/2 pound of feed each day.

Feeding so much cracked corn is not the best way to produce eggs, especially during warm-weather. For the high-protein requirements of a laying hen, the best and least expensive route that I can think of is to go hunting for meat, of just about any sort.

Steve

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post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

@suzettex5  Cracked corn is just dried corn that is busted into pieces. 
It's cheaper than the Layena, and the chickens pick around it to get to the Layena.  They really only eat it between feedings, while they are foraging around. 
I just realized: I hadn't mentioned that I don't keep their food in a feeder; I just toss out a couple of scoops in the morning. Not sure if that matters or not...

Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

digitS' :

Quote:
Originally Posted by corvinuscrow 

. . . 1-50lb. bag of Purina Layena and 1-50lb. bag of cracked corn every 2-3 weeks.  I mix the corn and layena 50/50.  They also free range on about 1/4 acre.  . . ?


50 pounds + 50 pounds = 100 pounds / 7 birds = 14.29 / 14 days = 1 + pound per chicken each day
50 pounds + 50 pounds = 100 pounds / 7 birds = 14.29 / 21 days = .7 pound per chicken each day

It looks like you are really losing feed and getting ZERO value from your free range. At a pound of feed per bird each day, perhaps you are feeding a LOT of sparrows, mice, or something else -- not just the chickens. Or, they are wasting half of it or more on the ground.

A leghorn-type hen will eat about 1/4 pound of feed each day. A dual-purpose will eat 1/3 to 1/2 pound of feed each day.

Feeding so much cracked corn is not the best way to produce eggs, especially during warm-weather. For the high-protein requirements of a laying hen, the best and least expensive route that I can think of is to go hunting for meat, of just about any sort.

Steve


I'm pretty sure that I'm about to feel really stupid...

Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
Where the vast cloudless sky was broken by one crow I sat upon a hill - all alone - long ago; But I never felt so lonely and so out of God's way, As here, where I brush elbows with a thousand every day
Reply
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