Pre-Chicken Owning Questions... $0 Feed Bill?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mp5girl, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. mp5girl

    mp5girl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello chicken people!

    My husband and I are both unemployed and struggling. Prior to this, I had been looking into chickens to pest out our yard and provide eggs which I can easily sell at our local market. I'm on the hunt for a $0 flock. Let me explain... I'm only wanting 3-5 chickens. I feel this is manageable for us to start. Our local shelter frequently gets calls for chickens and I can likely get them on barter. I plan on making a coop out of a repurposed piece of furniture and salvaging for any other materials. The chickies will likely free range in a large fenced area during the day and be cooped up at night. My question is, is there a way to provide supplemental feeding by growing what they need? Or simply, is it possible to have chickens without a monthly feed bill?

    I realize this may sound crazy but hey... I'm trying!
    Thanks for your thoughts!
    Melanie
     
  2. Rich386

    Rich386 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I seriously doubt that anyone has a 0 feed bill. You said you can sell the eggs how much can you get? How many eggs do you expect from 5 hens? Chickens from a shelter may just be old and no longer laying or?? Before getting chickens you might consider dealing with someone local to buy and resell their eggs. What you don't sell you can eat.
     
  3. KuroKitsune

    KuroKitsune Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i agree with rich...in the summer and other growing months you might get away with feeding very little if you let them free range alot but in winter when everthing is dead you'd have to go buy feed for them...so yeah dont think there a a way to feed chickensfor free. and yes chickens from shelter could be hen that are no longer laying
     
  4. angel8035

    angel8035 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With 3-5 chickens you will likely only get about a dozen eggs a week give or take, with them taking time off on really hot days and in the winter. You can grow some supplemental feed, but of course you will have to buy the seeds and the chickens will eat a lot. You can reduce feed bill by letting them range provided there are adequate greens and bugs. But it's really not fair to the birds to keep them without feeding layer feed - they need the calcium and nutrients. I'd do some more research before you get chickens - most small flock owners keep them as pets and you will spend a lot more on them than you think. I'm not trying to be rude, just making sure you have realistic expectations for the safety of the birds as well as your own welfare. It's much cheaper to buy a dozen eggs at the store than to raise your own. Good luck...
     
  5. mp5girl

    mp5girl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No offense. This is a 'spit balling' thread. :) It's all PART of my research and sometimes all the book reading in the world isn't as good as life long experience in the field! Know what I mean? I had to ask! I'm in absolutely no hurry and will not get them if I can't afford them. Thus the question... if there was something they eat that I could grow, then I could very cheaply start that now and have it going good by the time the hens come a cluckin'. LOL

    The shelter manager is a friend of mine. I put the word in a while ago to let me know when she gets calls and the last call she got was for 20+ hens all 3-10 months old. Owner fell gravely ill. Since they don't have lodging for such animals (only dogs and cats) when they get farm type animals in and can place them right away, there's no fee (although a donation is appreciated)! :) I also have friends who have chickens who owe me favors so I'm pretty confident I can obtain healthy young chicks for free or barter.

    What is the average monthly expense for say 4 chickens who free range? I was chicken sitting last week and they had little Cochins, 8 all together. Those guys barely ate 3 cups of feed in the 7 days I cared for them. Of course, they are free range and clearly knew all the buggy hot spots! But is that about right?

    I'm patient and I'm frugal and I'm crafty... so any corner cutting advice is much appreciated! :)
     
  6. pipemum

    pipemum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think that sounds right. My 8 chickens eat at least 3 cups of food a day, even with foraging. Unless you have a really big yard (like, acreage), chickens free-ranging all day are going to wipe out everything pretty quick. I was...surprised...at how quickly they can create a moonscape. I go through a 50lb bag of organic feed ($28) every 4-6 weeks. Their feed is supplemented with greens from my garden.

    Anyway, not to be too negative, I'm sure there are ways to have zero $ feed bill. I think you'd need a lot of land to grown enough forage for them. Or have farmer friends. I think there's a page on BYC that's about low budget chicken raising. Maybe that will have some tips.

    ETA: here's one, but it doesn't have any cheap feed tips: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/raising-chickens-on-a-shoestring
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  7. mp5girl

    mp5girl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes on the acreage. We both have 6 acres. Theirs is mostly wooded where as mine is mostly pasture. Mine is infested with crickets, ants, and spiders. And I'm sure a mess of other things I don't want to know about. LOL SO maybe that $28 can stretch to 2 months on 6 acres with some garden supplements? I'll check out that thread. Thanks for the link! :)
     
  8. pipemum

    pipemum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, and you can get much cheaper bags of food too. Walmart sells bags of layer feed for something like $15.00.

    Also, if you get more chickens, it may be possible to sell enough eggs at a farmer's market to cover feed costs. Here, eggs sell for $3-4 a dozen in the farmer's market. I have a friend that pays $6/dozen in her area, and they sell out fast! Just depends on your area.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  9. Chickens R Us

    Chickens R Us Chillin' With My Peeps

    I get 100# bag of layer mash at a local feed mill for $22.50.
     
  10. Arica

    Arica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can also soak grain In water for 12 hours or sprout them I have found that even soaking the grain for 12 hours makes a big difference in the amount of in the amount of food as in the grain got 50% bigger
     

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