Any suggestions on cutting back on cost?

TSW99

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 7, 2014
203
2
63
Tallahassee Fl
Ive been a chicken hobbyist for years and found their feed can be a bit pricy as well for the hay for bedding/nesting. I wanted to hear some of yalls suggestions on how you cut back prices on your flock. And another question is their any other substrate I can use for nesting other than hay?
 

hennible

Crowing
5 Years
Jul 14, 2014
11,524
884
386
Central British Columbia
Fermented feed is supposed to save food costs. Lots of people on here do it. Food dishes that cut waste can help.
Bedding options.... Wood shavings, rice hals, hemp bedding ( not cheap ) sand.... Dry fall leaves ( free )... That's all I can think of.
 

pdirt

Songster
6 Years
May 11, 2013
1,609
212
198
Eastern WA
Controlling feed, ie, only feeding once or twice a day can work if you have enough feeder space that all birds can eat at once. I think some chickens will overeat due to boredom if are left free access to food anytime they want it. Ours will eat up to 50% of their food by free ranging.

You can also see if there are any grain farms near you. If so, call them up and see if they will sell you for cheap any of their grain tailings. Some grains, such as wheat are desirable over others, such as rye. Mix these in with your store bought feed, along with some fish meal to keep the protein balanced. It will be some extra work but you should be able to save a pretty penny or two.

Wood shavings, at least around here, are a lot less expensive than hay. Wood shavings also have the added benefit of not having been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. We used raked leaves last winter and we think those may have been the source of our lice and mite issues from wild birds.
 
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TSW99

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 7, 2014
203
2
63
Tallahassee Fl
Well my chickens free range on seven acres so they should have plenty of space to find alot of their food.
and we just checked a local feed mill but they had stopped milling their own feed and started selling already bagged feed like the Purina.
 

roseygirl

In the Brooder
5 Years
Oct 7, 2014
26
1
26
Three Rivers, CA
An expansive, uncrowded trailer park nearby blows their leaves and creates a HUGE mountain of leaves every year. Lately, they have been running the leaves through a shredder. Last winter I made 40 yards of compost by mixing horse manure with the leaves. When I got chickens, I figured I'd use the shredded leaves for bedding since I'm going to use to make compost anyways. It is free and I think it works well. I'd be curious to hear others' opinions on it. If you have access to a lot of dried leaves, and you probably do, you could invest in a leaf shredder.
 

yyz0yyz0

Songster
8 Years
May 2, 2012
616
112
184
An expansive, uncrowded trailer park nearby blows their leaves and creates a HUGE mountain of leaves every year. Lately, they have been running the leaves through a shredder. Last winter I made 40 yards of compost by mixing horse manure with the leaves. When I got chickens, I figured I'd use the shredded leaves for bedding since I'm going to use to make compost anyways. It is free and I think it works well. I'd be curious to hear others' opinions on it. If you have access to a lot of dried leaves, and you probably do, you could invest in a leaf shredder.

I'd be worried about the dust that leaves will create as the chickens break them down.

I use wood chips in my coop but I also put a part bale of straw in my run once a week or so and let them spread it around and break it down, then I rake it up and replace it.

This time of year is a great time to score lots of FREE straw. Many places use it for decorations at this time of year. Last year I stopped at a couple of businesses that had straw bales out for decorations and they were more than happy to have me haul them away for them after holloween had past. It saved them the cost of having to dispose of it themselves. So that could be a source of free straw for you if you ask around.
 

aatx

Songster
5 Years
Mar 19, 2014
333
36
131
Erath County, Texas
We use leaves mixed with pine shavings. Whole leaves, not shredded. Works great, not dusty at all. We do deep littler, so no replacing, just adding, until next spring when we'll remove the top portion. Chickens do a good job of mixing it up, but I go in every week or two with a tine fork and turn it over, getting down to the bottom layer.

Also, just pine shavings in the nest boxes right now.
 
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LakeMomNY

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 25, 2014
121
23
86
I use the deep litter method, utilizing pine shavings some straw, LOTS of leaves, weeds, grass clippings, etc.

I do NOT have any issues with dust.
 

The Stork

Hatching
5 Years
Oct 9, 2014
3
0
6
Nesting... Trying to think of things that haven't been mentioned yet.

-We used sawdust in the past but they couldn't keep it in the nesting boxes.
-Pine needles work well. We used white pine, which has needles 4-6 inches long that don't poke.
-Shredded newspaper/junk mail (without plastic) would work.
-Maybe dried lawn clippings, but they'd be prone to mold.
 

pdirt

Songster
6 Years
May 11, 2013
1,609
212
198
Eastern WA
We loved using the leaves, since we have a lot of them, but we think the leaves may have been harboring mites and lice from wild birds. Our birds got both the scaly leg mites and I think it was lice (small red bugs mostly around the vent). We won't be using leaves this winter and we'll see how it turns out.
 

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