How can I save $$ on chicken feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kristenm1975, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    831
    11
    163
    Jul 23, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I have 20 hens of varying ages and sizes and a big metal trash can that I fill with a mixture of 50 lbs layer pellets at $15, 25 lbs scratch grains at $10, 2 lbs grit ($2), 2 lbs oyster shell ($2) and DE all mixed together. I just went through the whole can in two weeks. [​IMG]

    On top of that regular feed, I've been daily feeding them about 3 cups of hot cereal (oatmeal, cornmeal, grits etc) with meat and veggy scraps mixed in, along with whatever milk or yogurt I have that is past human consumption. The oatmeal costs 75 cents a lb at the grocery store and the scraps I got for free.

    All of this is adding up fast and I'm looking at the sad possibility of needing to re-home half of my girls if I can't find some way to cut the cost.

    I think a LOT of the chicken's feed is being eaten by rats and sparrow so I'm going to start taking steps to prevent that. I've covered the run with bird netting, but there are little openings that I can fix. As for the rats, I've advised my boyfriend that he'll be peeing into a jar from here on out so I can pour it all around the perimeter of the run and coop to deter the rats. Cracks me up that that's actually something that works. Bring on the beer and my problems will be over. [​IMG]

    I've found a market that will give me several pounds of meat scraps if I ask, and I'm going to check around to see if I can also get free produce that's too old to sell.

    Are there any other places anyone knows about where you can get feed-grade (as opposed to human grade) grains and cereals? I live in the Seattle area. I'd like to cut that cost too. If I can, and I continue to feed them the hot cereal with all the yummy meat and veggy additives, do you think they will do okay without the layer pellets for a month or more until I can afford the feed store prices?

    I'm sure there are a few people out there who might have some less than supportive comments about people who can't afford pets and I'd like to preempt those posts by stating that I'm perfectly willing to find good homes for any animals that I can't properly feed, although I'll be sad about it.

    Thanks for any ideas you all have!
     
  2. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    I think something else is eating a LOT of your food! I don't have as many as you, but my mother does and she isn't going through anywhere near that much feed.....and they are fat and well fed. Before you start thinking about re-homing I would find out where all the food is going.
     
  3. rdranch

    rdranch Chillin' With My Peeps

    311
    0
    149
    Apr 13, 2007
    Strasburg,CO
    With 75# of food being consumed in 2 weeks I'd say critters other than your chickens are eating the food. Our girls get healthy treats on a regular basis and the 15 of them could never eat that much.

    I would suggest looking at ways of preventing critters other than the chickens from access to the food. [​IMG]
     
  4. edcba

    edcba New Egg

    1
    0
    6
    Dec 7, 2008
    Try limiting amount of food available, and feed at regular times, maybe you can spot what else is eating the food...
     
  5. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    13,295
    18
    291
    Aug 25, 2008
    SC
    The SQUIRRELS are always sneaking the scratch feed here!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. mtnhomechick

    mtnhomechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2008
    Mountain Home, AR
    Sounda like the amount I feed. I put food out in the morning and at night. I free range for two or so hours a day.

    I use layer crumbles in the morning and hog feed ( half the cost ) at night. I get good results.

    I also use oyster shell and grit. I grind egg shells in a coffee grinder and add to food.

    I put out some scraps......not alot.

    I think your feed the right amount of food.

    Grocery stores will often give you old produce.

    Good Luck,

    Mary
     
  7. gumpsgirl

    gumpsgirl Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    14,108
    24
    311
    Mar 25, 2008
    Virginia
    It does sound like something (or someone) else is eating (or taking) the feed along with the chickens. We bungee cord the top of our metal trash cans on so nothing else can get into it. That would be my suggestion to start with and see if it makes a difference.
     
  8. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    831
    11
    163
    Jul 23, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for all the advice! I can definitely bungee the top of the feed container down. I can patch up the holes in my bird netting, and I can put out some rat traps. I do hate to kill the buggers, even if I don't like them and like what they're doing. My daughter raised rats for years and if she finds out I'm removing their necks for them, I'm sure I'll get some coal in my stocking for Christmas. I know there is such a think as a humane trap, but as far as I understand, they are much more expensive and saving money is the whole point of getting rid of them.

    Aside from spending about a week of back-breaking (and probably wasted) effort and more money in installing chicken wire even deeper underground around the coop and run, what else can I do to prevent the sneaky buggers?

    There are numerous holes dug under the fence even with buried chicken wire and I've tried covering the holes up with feed bags topped off with 12 inch paving stones, but of course they just dig in another spot.

    I know many other people are having trouble with rats because every time I go to the hardware store to buy the darn traps, they're out. The woman who's renting the house to us and who built the chicken coop and run suggested only feeding about two big scoops of feed a day so that you only end up feeding the chickens and there isn't enough left over for the rats, but I have one of those galvanized feeders and the silly birds beak most of the feed out onto the ground around the feeder and then won't eat it. [​IMG] They run to the fence at every movement from the house, squawking like they were being starved. Should I just follow my landlady's advice and only feed two scoops (each scoop probably holds about 4 cups) each day? Does that sound like the right amount for about 20 hens? 4 of them are banties, and two are pullets.

    Thanks one and all and I apologize for the duplicate posting!
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  9. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    Have you tried hanging your feeder? If not, hang it where they can just reach it to eat. This will eliminate a LOT of waste and the rats can't get it so easily, either. I, personally, don't kill anything. The humane traps, while costlier in the beginning, last forever. You do have to relocate the rats far away though, or they will just be right back. If you must kill them, the snap and kill type is about the most humane method. Glue, poisons, and drowning are all horrible ways to go (and poison is dangerous to your birds anyway). Good luck. I think you will see your feed bill drop tremendously once you get this solved. [​IMG]
     
  10. crazy huhn

    crazy huhn Chillin' With My Peeps

    815
    12
    171
    May 24, 2008
    How about hanging up the feeder(s) of the ground, so that the chickens will not spill that much of their food? It makes it also more difficult for critters to take a meal.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by