How to feed my chickens on a budget? Issues with roosters?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mrl8810, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. mrl8810

    mrl8810 In the Brooder

    Jun 26, 2019
    I now have 23 chickens..13 being chicks(10 weeks old)...5 being roosters...the rest are hens...Up until now I've been getting cracked corn feed/laying mash for the adult chickens..chick starter for the babies...however recently I was told that since the roosters eat with the hens(I keep their food in a no-waste feeder..even though they still scratch it out onto the ground)...that the roosters would eventually have health issues because they would be eating the laying mash as well. I tend to mix my laying mash and corn equally...So i thought about just taking layer out all together but was then told that the corn feed wasn't good for them. So I'm not sure what to do now..i started off spending 20 dollars per month on food for 3-10 I'm going at about 60 dollars a month for the food...300 lbs of food a month...with the new food that I've been told i should buy them its going to be double the price..I just can't really afford 120 dollars per month for 300 lbs of food for the chickens...I give them things like grass..watermelon etc Any help?
    BlueBaby, starri33, Susan Dye and 8 others like this.
  2. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Free Ranging

    Jul 24, 2016
    Washington State
    I sympathize. Although I can afford to feed my chickens, I realize it is more costly than I ever expected. That being said, I think you should be using flock raiser and offering oyster shell on the side. Using the Purina brand that will run the $120/mo for your 300 lbs/mo. That does seem like a lot of feed to me. I certainly don't use 150 lbs for 12 chickens. Are you using crumbles or pellets? I understand there is a lot less waste if you get the pellets. You could forgo the corn altogether. Perhaps they are eating more volume because they are eating so much corn, and that is not giving them the nutrients they need, so they just eat more.

    Just some suggestions. Can you sell some eggs to help pay for the food?
  3. blackandtan

    blackandtan Songster

    I used to buy the layer mash (corn and seed etc mix) because it was cheaper, took me years to realize that they just waste most of it scratching out their favourite bits, no matter what feeder I used!
    I finally made the switch to layer crumbs, which is a nice uniform little pellet with everything they need, but because it’s all the same they don’t scratch it all over the place, THEY EAT! In the end it costs a lot less, especially if you go with regular meal times (ie: a scoop of crumbs in the morning, or whatever they can eat in 20-30 mins, perhaps a handful of grain in the run to scratch at in the afternoon, then a dinner time scoop of crumbs).
    I also free range them as much as possible, they come in at night with tummies full of weeds, grasshoppers, whatever, and they had fun doing it! Believe me, a bored chicken will sit and eat if there’s nothing else to do!

    Oh yes, I also keep everyone together, hens, roos, turkeys and geese; they’re all on the same food and I’ve never had problems from the extra calcium in the layer crumbs.
    Hope this helps!
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I agree with ValerieJ - flock raiser for everyone with oyster shell on the side. If you are able to free range, that will cut down on your feed bill during the spring and summer months especially, and into the fall.
  5. slordaz

    slordaz hatchaholic

    Apr 15, 2015
    at 8 weeks old you can put them all on flock raiser/all flock depending on the brand name, give oyster shell here at the farm store I can get a 50 lb bag of it for around 12 and with 10 hens it still lasts me a year,on side for the laying hens and then ya only need one feed for all of them
  6. Cryss

    Cryss Free Ranging

    Nov 12, 2017
    Northwest New Jersey
    100%AGREED! Layer feed is great if you run a commercial chicken farm with multiple aged flocks and keep each flock confined to their age group. Only currently laying HENS should be fed layer feed. But backyard keepers usually have mixed ages and genders. Flock Raiser feed covers everyone Provided you offer oyster shell in the side constantly. Roosters and pullets won't eat the shell, hens will eat it freely.
    Corn is candy to them. Consider it a treat. I specifically consider it a winter nitetime treat as it is believed by some to warm them. It is full of calories and can cause your birds to become fat which can cause organ problems and death. Stick to Flock Grower as the main source of nutrition and an occasional handful of treats, some kitchen scraps, and whatever they can scratch up.
    BlueBaby, Jac Jac, Ghosty and 10 others like this.
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    I'm gonna second the Flock Raiser AND skipping the corn altogether.

    Oyster shell is cheaper than protein which is what you get extra instead of calcium and why those feeds cost more. Offering oyster shell on the side free choice SEEMS more expensive at the beginning.

    Adding your general location to your profile will help peeps make the best suggestions possible at a glance. :)

    That being said, have you shopped around at all? There is easily a $1-3 difference per bag depending on where I go.

    Enough CANNOT be said about proper nutrition and what it may save you in illness, parasite and disease resistance and such. For me, corn is the same price as feed... and yes I have spent WAY too much over the years on feed, easily over $100/ month... :oops:

    BUT I'm not spending $ to go to the gym or to therapy and it's way more beneficial than focusing on bad stuff or doing drugs! :cool:

    Couple keys to consider.. raise feeders to be level with the birds back to help avoid waste. Make SURE your feed is locked up at night to avoid free loading rodents. Day time free loaders such as song birds may be an issue as well.

    Selling hatching eggs or chicks or even started birds was the only way to cover any of my cost significantly (even them I feel lucky to break even on just feed). Which added a whole other fantastic experience... And expense :oops: (cuz then came the incubators) Keeping roosters isn't free. The heavier the breed like Orpington or Wyandotte, the more they eat and lay less eggs than lighter breed like Leghorn. Choosing lighter breeds or even bantams can significantly impact feed consumption. Free ranging does also decrease consumption depending on pasture quality. With decent pasture it saves me about 10% verses not free ranging. But then you MIGHT lose a bird to day time predation negating any savings at all. :barnie So many choice and some are very personal. Good for you for seeking to do the best for your birds and finding ways to do that! :highfive:

    My cost in just feed is about $4 per bird, per month. Figuring out your cost per bird might help you decide on a good amount to keep long term. I sell hatching eggs most often between $25- 65/dozen and eating eggs go for about $4/dozen. Chicks $10- $15 each, cross breeds would be MUCH less.

    One way or the other... corn should be kept to no more than 10% of total daily ration as it does not have enough protein nor the added amino acids, vitamins, and minerals of any formulated ration. High energy low nutrient diets can cause an amplitude of not only health issues but also behavioral issues.

    5 roosters is quite a few.. I would consider re-homing or sending a few to freezer camp. And also maybe re-homing either or of some of the older or the younger birds or some of both. I like to sell off a few older and bring in a few younger each spring to keep winter laying consistent with my family needs. Note corn does NOT keep chickens warm, their feathers do. It just provides calories (aka energy) and most formulated rations are already made of mostly corn.

    I hope this gives you a few ideas, I see lots of good suggestions from other posters already! :fl
  8. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Free Ranging

    Jul 24, 2016
    Washington State
    This ^^ is more in line with what I spend on chicken food per month, maybe $50, and that includes grit,oyster shell and a few treats, but I have never kept track of it to be exact. That's because I'm always buying other stuff at the same time, like wild bird seed, squirrel food, dog and cat food...whatever else I think I "need" for my pets. If I were on a budget, I would stick with all flock food, oyster shell, and leave it at that. Perhaps my leftover fruits and veggies from the house for treats, which also helps out. :)
  9. ConnieA

    ConnieA Songster

    Mar 9, 2015
    Every time I hear people talk about specialty feeds for chickens, I remember the book, "Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps" by Alan Thompson and Claude H Goodchild, where they described rationing for chickens and rabbits.

    sorce, Susan Dye, pargue and 3 others like this.
  10. Tycine1

    Tycine1 Crowing

    May 26, 2009
    David, Chiriquí, Panama
    Adult chickens should eat about 4 ounces of feed daily, the younger ones less. For the sake of argument, we'll say they each eat 4 ounces of feed daily. You need 5.75 pounds of feed per day to feed your flock of 23 birds. We're gonna round that up to 6 pounds a day, and 30 days a month, and we get 180 pounds of feed per month. If they're blowing through 300 pounds of feed monthly, then they're wasting 120 pounds.
    Of the 13 adult birds that you have in your flock, 5 of them are roosters. That's 4 roosters too many (and 5 roosters too many if you could care less about having fertile eggs). A savings of a pound of feed daily, 30 pounds of feed monthly, if you didn't have four of those roosters.
    I'm getting 40kg (88 pounds) of 'all flock' feed for $22 per bag, breaks down to 25 cents per pound, which figures out to less than $2 per bird per month (at 4 ounces of feed per day). I put their feeder on a lipped cookie sheet, anything they kick out of the feeder that they haven't eaten off of the tray gets dumped back into the feeder for the next day's feed ration. When it's dustier than I (or they) like it, then I mix it with sardines, tuna, yogurt, mashed hard boiled eggs, moist fruit like watermelon (to pick up and hold the grain), or table scraps and call that a "treat".
    I recommend that you use an 'all flock feed' or 'non-medicated chick feed'. Neither of these mixes contains too much calcium for your rooster, non laying pullets, or your chicks. Calcium supplement served in a dish on the side is typically only eaten by your laying hens, as they seem to understand that they need it; your other birds might nibble at it once or twice, but tend to ignore it, knowing that they don't need it. I cannot get oyster shell here, but my feed store sells ground up egg shell and my girls love it.

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