It currently costs me about $35/month to feed my flock of 18 layers (stars, BOs, EEs). With shavings and scratch (soon to be discontinued), it might run me $40. I sell five dozen eggs a week and this pays for all with a little surplus left over. They are laying about 12 eggs/day but prior to mid-February produced slightly better numbers. I have experimented by following the advice of my feed store guy who also raises layers, and given the birds a 22% protein game bird crumble through these cold winter months (Maine); this costs about $2 more per bag but now that spring has arrived, I am going to be switching back to the 16% layer feed next trip to the store. I free-range them about half the day and give them all my kitchen scraps; lately I have been putting apple cider vinegar in their water. I keep the coop relatively clean and dry and scatter straw in the yard when it becomes wet; I also dump old shavings in the yard for the same purpose. Generally, they seem healthy and with the exception of a broody BO-who went AWOL for about two months-I've been satisfied with what were a hatchery purchase. This is a long-winded intro to what is my main question: Other than the feed, is there anything else that layers absolutely have to have in their diet? Any medications which are absolutely essential? I'm not ducking responsibility but am concerned with cost and also with trying not to fall prey to what sometimes feels like a feeding fad that someone is trying to push, including feed manufacturers. If you have some good empirical evidence for what your feeding/medication regimen is-vs. hearsay or received wisdom, I'd love to hear your input. *As an endnote, I would add that if I could afford the upfront cost of buying sacks of whole grains and mixing them myself, I would do that.