I Want to Find the Best and Least Costly way to feed my 40 Hens and Roos. How to Make it Sustainabl

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Catfsm, May 28, 2016.

  1. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Currently we give them about 5 quarts of layer pellets per day. We also give them any scraps or green leafy items we can get. This would be around 1/2 cup each

    I think they are underfed. The feed costs a lot, though: 15 dollars for 50 pounds is the best price I can find.


    How can I do better? Would it be wise, for example, to find some corn and other grains to give them in the mornings and some pellets later in the day? I mean would it hurt for them to have some of that along wth pellets? I would feed them about half and half. The grain mix would be cheaper and I could give them that to be certain they eat enough.

    Is there a way to find less costly? For example, how could I buy in bulk? I do not have a space to store food that is not in bags except couple of big bins. Food in bags is subject to mice or rats! Or squirrels.

    I want my hens to lay and support our little farm with their eggs. What do people do? I can sell all the eggs I get! The demand is incredible. On 1 June I will experiment with raising the price of eggs up 50 cents a dozen. The cost of the feed versus the egg sales and buying more hens and other incidental items results in very little income to use for fixing the coops or buying other animals such as some ducks and so on. What do other people do?

    I want the farm (not the cost of the taxes or mortgage or insurance) to support itself. I have sold rabbit and goat manure, baby bunnies, quail and chicken eggs, . I have put an ad on for people to board their goats or other animals here and I had someone take up my offer in February making almost 200 dollars. I had the goats to out today to experiment with them eating in someones yard. I plan to rent them out (There are just two little Nigerian wethers.) If the food cost for the hens is that high, I am paying for hay for the goats and rabbits and feed out of my limited income.

    I am retired and care for my elderly mom. I found hay at a bargain price: $3 a bale. I use recycled fencing and wood when I can find it. I got baby hens this year because grown ones were either costly or older and not good layers. The first set of babies are just about ready to lay. The second 10 are on the heat lamp still.When they come in there will be 9 more layers. (One died).

    What are other people doing to be sustainable and to feed enough without it costing a lot. ?
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  2. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't really have an answer for you. I will be interested to see how people have the chickens pay for themselves. I am assuming they use breeds like leghorns, and replace them after 18 months or so. Maybe get a broody breed to hatch the eggs. Sell or eat the males. Where do you live and what kind of money can you get for a dozen eggs? Are they able to free roam? That way they can eat lots of brass and bugs and they will eat less food. You can also talk with your local grocery stores and see if you could have the leftover produce that they toss out every day. Fermenting the feed can also help. I do that and the chickens eat about a third less feed then just feeding it dry. I have 12 chickens but it can be done on a larger scale. Good luck with your plans. I hope it works out.
     
  3. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Overrun With Chickens

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    Read the thread on FF (fermented feeding).....No feed waste, less feed usage, less water consumption, less stinky poop, firmer poop & beneficial to health.
     
  4. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Do you have neighbours, or a nearby town? I get veggie scraps from a local veggie supplier, in exchange for a dozen eggs. I only take some of his scraps, he has another person come as well as me. It helps him in his business because otherwise he'd be having to take the scraps to the rubbish tip.
    Another neighbour also gives me a box of scraps (I don't know where they come from, whether she eats a lot of salad or what, she just started leaving them when she found out I've got chooks).

    If you have neighbours who are growing veggies, you might be able to swap some eggs for scraps or "seconds". Ditto a veggie shop in town.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I free-range to offset feed cost although care must be taken to control losses to predators and hens not laying eggs where they can be collected. Even on my scale which is seasonally at twice yours the investment in predator management exceeds savings in feed, I could do better by adding livestock to mix that can make a greater area suitable for chicken foraging and still be easy to defend, You also manipulate types of plant forages and make so landscape has patches that act as bio-attractors for drifting insect forages.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    There is no money in egg farming. There is no justification for the price that would have to be paid for a dozen eggs to sustain a family if raising birds in a traditional, non-commercial setting. Your only cost after your housing and pens are up is feed really. Bulk feed is the major way to bring down costs. Investment in metal trash cans for storage should pay for itself if you've a local mill and a truck to bring them to and fill.

    Usually the goal is for the chickens to pay for themselves and all the housing costs while supplying you with free eggs and meat. That's a multi year goal when it comes to costs of electric fencing and coops but in the first year it's no problem to be on track of bringing in more than is spent for maintenance and feed. That little more is the multi year part where it eventually pays for initial upfront costs. To make any real money? Hat's off to you if you do.
     
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  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Some things wear out requiring periodic replacement making for some serious depreciation concerns especially when scale of operation is small..
     
  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Exactly. Say an electric fence only has 6 years life then that's 6 years of small profit to pay for it then your on another cycle of payment for the next. Small scale is very sustainable in respect to not needing to outsource new birds or it being a hobby that pays for itself. On small scale it can't sustain a family but it can supplement free food.

    I'm not hatching much this year but even so had over 50 birds. I'm selling out of brooder pullet culls for $6, sold fertile eggs for $1 each and sell eggs for $3 a dozen. As birds grow will sell more pullets for $10 @ 10-12 weeks and $15 for 18 week plus. Year old hens we don't want $10. Sold brooding hens with eggs under them for $25 this spring. This indeed pays for all the feed, bedding and minor costs of feeders with some extra that in time will pay for coops and netting. The bonus is all the cockerel culls for meat that was paid to feed by the pullets. By the time we recouped the initial $800 in construction material and charger plus netting will need a new net or certainly will have spent more as we've yet to put together breeding pens. This spring we used the grow out coop, next year will have multiple breeders that will require at least another pen/grow out set up to breed then house the resulting birds until large enough.

    Poultry keeping like sugaring or even bee keeping is generally a hobby with little supplemental income. The scale and initial investments to make them profitable is beyond what most want or can do. Not so say there are not niche markets for specialty premium products. Items that are rare and have a name can bring in actual profit for the little time spent. Again that's supplement hobby income but your'd see a wage compared to uncountable hours for free eggs. If you were in an area with foodies then something like Bresse chicken for meat may generate interest. Not to say it's better but it has a name that literally says it's better meat. With most foodies if they pay four times the price for something and it's authentic they will exclaim it's virtues and admit it's one of their monthly indulgences.
     
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  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Feed is a major expense, but good food pays off! Metal garbage cans are best, or an old freezer, as long as you cycle food and don't dump new on top of old. Birds need their main balanced diet free choice, NOT doled out, and oyster shell available in a separate container free choice too. Hens laying many eggs/ week are working VERY hard metabolically, and just need what they need. Huge commercial flock economics , and buying feed by the ton, aren't relevant to small farm flock economic issues at all! Everyone's comments above are right on here. Mary
     
  10. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the note. I have Rhodies, Buff, Brahma, Plymouth, Auracana, and others. They are what I could get for free or low priced. This year I bought 20 babies and had someone raise them on the heat lamp. 3 died of those. However, we have 8 that will begin to lay since they are around 5 1/2 months old. The other 9 are only 1 month old. I can't kill the hens: They are my pets. I know I should. I am not a real farmer and that is probably part of my problem. I sell eggs here for 4 dollars a dozen, and will experiment with 4.50 starting in June since 4 has been my price for years. They do roam and eat outside. Nearly all the stores around will NOT save their produce culls. They say they are afraid humans will eat them and sue them! I can find some sometimes and and bring them. I also bring in leafy plans and grass clippings. The chickens share a pasture with the goats and they all eat it together!

    I will try the fermentation. Thanks for the good idea.
     

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