How to cut the cost of feeding chickens?

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
4,456
7,630
426
USA
Anyone have any pointers on how to reduce feed costs? I have a 1 acre city property and about 60 chickens and I buy organic at Tractor supply but I imagine there are other ways to do this. I have been reading about Fodder but any other tips out there?
Compost pile or mulched area.
They can scratch through it to get bugs.

I know there are limits on how much material you have available to compost, but it's often possible to get a truckload of wood shavings for free--just spread them several inches deep somewhere (maybe a shady place where grass doesn't grow well.) Within a few weeks or months, there will be plenty of bugs in there, and the chickens will spend a lot of time scratching for them and eating them. And it doesn't take much effort on your part--once you've got the chips in place, it's all set for the next year or so.

Chickens do like to eat grass, but I think they get more food value from the bugs in compost or mulch than from the same area of grass. Of course, some of each is better than all one or the other.

I would also offer the chickens any food scraps you have. For convenience, just dump it on the compost pile each day and let the chickens pick through it. When they have enough choices, they are quite good at avoiding things that are bad for them. And you can include things like meat, fish, and grease (unlike a normal compost pile), because the chickens will eat those up before they have a chance to attract pests.

The scraps from a household might be too much for a flock of two or three chickens, and make their diet unbalanced, but that is not much of a concern when you have 60 chickens. No one chicken will get enough to be a big problem.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
1,182
2,374
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North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I'm with others suggesting local mills, and pointing out that ever if you feed all organic, you can't advertise and sell them that way. I went from paying $16.50/40# at TSC for All Flock to paying $24/100# from the local mill, and I get more recent mill dates as well. If I bought 10 bags at a time, I could get it cheaper still, but my little flock (currently) can't eat it that fast, so I'm paying a small premium for freshness.

A BSF Composter to pump out protein treats is a great idea, but I found FL too hot for it to work. You may experience similar difficulties in AZ - be aware. The benefit of one is so great that I'm going to try again this spring, now that I've moved it to a cooler, more shaded spot.

and re "organic" and hormones - your local mill maybe adds stuff for medicated feeds - which will be all over the label - but I assure you, they aren't investing in extra equipment to add hormones, vitamins, or anything else to the feed. What they are doing is taking (largely) local grains by the truckload, mixing them together in some ratio, then dumping them into a big machine to grind them to powder.

For an extra fee, they put that powder in another machine and press it into pellets before bagging. Or you can mix your "crumble" with water to make an oatmeal like consistency, and get loss down like you were using pellets. Let it ferment a bit, with time and a bit more water, you can adjust the natural vitamin content slightly, and maybe have a bit less pasty butt in your hatchlings. Wet food will also help them with heat related stresses, or so I've found.

/edit and yes, mine free range too. They are free choice as hatchlings, and then in the grow out pen, but at 8-12 weeks when the layers join the flock? By that point, they free range all day, then come into the pen for the one and only meal I feed them each evening, so they are guaranteed to go to bed with full crops - and motivated like hell to forage all day. My birds eat about 4# dry weight of feed each day, and I buy 150# at a time, make my own 21% protein mix. Two bags of 24% game bird, plus one bag of 16% layer.
 

glib

Songster
13 Years
Dec 8, 2007
238
84
226
can anyone tell me in a nutshell why fodder saves feed? i suspect it is just because, sprouted, grains are far more digestible...
 
Jan 9, 2021
7
12
3
Anyone have any pointers on how to reduce feed costs? I have a 1 acre city property and about 60 chickens and I buy organic at Tractor supply but I imagine there are other ways to do this. I have been reading about Fodder but any other tips out there?
I have over thirty chickens and have been feeding them organic their entire lives. Organic is a little more expensive than regular, but for health, it is so much better for you. I used to buy organic pellets for my chickens at Tractor Supply, but then I found out that it was significantly cheaper and healthier to mix up your own feed and ferment it. Ever since then I have been making this recipe: https://thefewellhomestead.com/make-homemade-chicken-feed/ Our chickens love it! I hope this helps :)
 
Jul 26, 2020
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can anyone tell me in a nutshell why fodder saves feed? i suspect it is just because, sprouted, grains are far more digestible...
It supplements the need for commercial feed at an average of $0.03 per pound. Costing around $1.20 per 40 pounds compared to a 40 pound bag of scratch at $9.49 per bag. Using a bag per week your looking at an annual savings of $431.08 per year.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
878
1,778
236
Rhode Island
Don't have all the nutrients that a bird needs without intentionally only making food scraps for them
The average person for family isn't going cut the food bill a lot feeding food waste, but feeding what you have can cut some...and if it keeps scraps out of the trash, that's a huge plus.

Composting your food waste is good too, granted...but running it through a chicken first is better IMHO. :D
 

JacinLarkwell

Crowing
Mar 19, 2020
7,190
11,215
461
South-Eastern Montana
The average person for family isn't going cut the food bill a lot feeding food waste, but feeding what you have can cut some...and if it keeps scraps out of the trash, that's a huge plus.

Composting your food waste is good too, granted...but running it through a chicken first is better IMHO. :D
That is true. I may have misinterpreted the comment by thinking it was saying only feeding kitchen scraps
 

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