Feed bill - need to reduce drastically

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by IonaFarm, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. IonaFarm

    IonaFarm In the Brooder

    Jun 13, 2010
    Need to make adjustments to the feed bill till I get back to work. I don't want to skimp on quality of feed. Or let any of the chicks go - to new homes or the crock pot.

    . I have 40 chicks of varying ages. 17 are 10 wks old.

    I've been buying crumbles. But are pellets more economical? I notice crumbles spilt below feeder. Most of the time the chicks eat them also. But sometimes not.

    Would the waste be cut down with pellets? Or is there more waste?

    Can I supplement with grains from the co op?

    Currently use mainly crumbles in the feeders. Scratch and boss for treats. Gave them broken pumpkins this week also.

    Any suggestions for tighting the feed bill would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010

  2. math ace

    math ace Crowing

    Dec 17, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL
    Consider buying bulk. . .

    See if you and a friend could go in on a bulk order of chicken feed.
  3. MaransGuy

    MaransGuy Songster

    Oct 25, 2007
    Greenfield, MA
    Pellets are more efficient than crumbles. Mash is the worst. The only really effective way to reduce the feed bill is to reduce the amount you are buying. I have not found discounts to be more than about 5%-10% when buying by the pallet instead of the bag. Many people have had to reduce their flocks and it is not easy. It is better than trying to get by on less feed and wind up compromising the health of the birds.

    Also, adding more grains is not the equivalent in complete nutrition. Pellets or crumbles are the only way to get correctly balanced nutrients to the birds.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  4. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    I personally don't like Crumbles because of the waste, alot of it is just powder ... I feed Layer pellets to mine.
    I only feed Crumbles to my baby chickens, and Gamebird Crumbles to my Buttons.
    We had alot of left over Wheat Seed from planting, I mix Wheat with pellets and crumbles. Do you Free Range?
  5. RIBill

    RIBill Chirping

    Nov 7, 2010
    You can feed your birds many things to get them through lean times. In fact, the more diverse their diet, the better off you will be. Hunting and fishing can elevate the protein if you have a cheap source of grain. That said, what is your intent? While the chickens may provide you a meal, they likely wont provide an income. If you can't afford to feed them, it would make sense to liquidate them either by selling or butchering. After all, if they are malnourished they will produce poorly or not at all. Plus there are the accessory costs like supplemental lighting, heat, litter, grit, etc. They aren't exactly a cheap hobby. Unless you have a cheap/free source of protein, I would start to look at offloading your birds.
  6. HeritageHens

    HeritageHens Chirping

    Aug 9, 2010
    Can you give us a general idea where you live so we can toss out some specific ideas?

    Do you live in an area where you can plant some winter crops for them (green manure type)? Do you free range or can they be free ranged some of the time if you are home to reduce the food bill, assuming you have a quality area for them to forage? Can you raise the feeder so that the chickens can't spill the food?

    Chickens don't need treats; want them yes, but need them, no. I think that BOSS is pretty expensive for 40 birds unless you are feeding just a tiny amount. My chickens don't get them and they are doing just fine and I make a salary where I could afford them if I wanted! Ditto with scratch. You could grow some sprouts for your chickens even if you can't grow anything outside and that would be a fine treat!

    Can you glean or forage to supplement their diet and for treats? My girls love dandelions. Since I can't let them free range during the week due to my work schedule, I dig up dandelions for them. I also pull up kale, cabbage, and collard greeen plants from the almost-put-to-bed garden, give them pumpkins that others were throwing out (got 3 just today!), and throw a bucket of compost or leaves into their run for them to dig through during the day. Ask your local store if you can take leftover veggies for your chickens, maybe the trimmed outside scraps.

    Feed your chickens the best that you can afford. And I agree - buy in bulk! I buy things like grit in 50 pound bags for less than $10. If you have to feed a lower cost food for a while, I'm sure they will forgive you.

    I was at local organic agricultural specialty store the other day and found a pallet of things ranging from 10%-50% off regular price! Check with feed stores; they may have a broken bag of chicken food, cat/dog food (that can be fed in small amounts to the chickens) or something else you use for a reduced price, allowing you to spend more on the chicken food.

    Is there another place in your life that can be cut or trimmed so you don't feel crimped in the chicken budget?

    Is there a buying co-op in your area to help reduce your food and their food costs? In the western half of the US, you can use Azure Standard (www.azurestandard.com). They have both organic Rogue pellets and starter for less than $22/50 pounds or organic Magill Ranch for about $28 - no non-organic foods available. They have tons of foods for you and if you buy your own foods in bulk, it might take the pressure off the chicken costs.

    Can you use (free) leaves in the run and coop to reduce costs instead of straw or shavings? I got 10 burlap bags (which were also free from a local coffee roasting house) full of leaves from an elderly lady the other day. And coffee chaff (not grounds) works in the coop if you have a roasting house. They are free for the asking!

    Craigslist!! I was first in line for some spent grains used in making beer. I got these before I had chickens but I could have fed these as the couple was literally pulling out the grains from the malt before my eyes. They were obviously not moldy. Check with local brewing establishments for spent grains. You may very well find lots of other edibles on Craiglist as well.

    If you don't already, I'd suggest adding apple cider vinegar with the mother to the water. It may give your chickens an extra boost to keep them healthy. Just a small amount is necessary.

    Good luck to you. I know it's tough out there.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  7. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    I agree on the pellets. When I switched from cumbles to pellets it seemed like I could go almost 1/2 week longer on the 50lb bag.

  8. Rozzie

    Rozzie Songster

    Jul 14, 2010
    I'd quit the BOSS. That's pretty pricey, even as treats.

    Also, get something to put under the feeder to catch spilled food. If you have kids & have one of those round sleds in the basement then that might do the trick pretty well.
  9. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Free range if at all possible, esp. if you are in a warmer climate. Give them any leftovers.
  10. ladybug99

    ladybug99 Songster

    Aug 10, 2010
    Monroe New Jersey
    I have been going to the local grocery stop and farmers market in my town.. they usually have a section of "bruised or unsellable friut" at drastically reduced prices.. last week I got 5 pounds of apples for about 50 cents and a whole bunch of pumpkins for 10 cents each.. I spent like $1.50 and have enough treats for the girls for a couple of weeks.....I keep the produce in a cool place and it does fine... I even made pie out of some of the apples....they were perfectly good except for a few bumped spots. I also find that pellets are less expensive than the crumbles. I don't sweep mine up from the floor.. they eat every piece.

    I have also been look for sales on oatmeal , and cat and dog food.. last week my local grocery store had a sale on quaker oatmeal 10 boxes for 10 dollars.. only a dollar a box and I can eat it too [​IMG] Each box of oatmeal has 12 pounches.. that is enough to give my girls a nice treat almost every day of the week for 10 weeks!!

    I guess I am lucky my girls eat almost any thing and they don't like scratch or BOSS withch are both kinda pricey.. they are happy to get any treats they can from me..

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by