Reducing food bills and cost of eggs...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kevinhannan, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. kevinhannan

    kevinhannan Chillin' With My Peeps

    186
    2
    91
    Aug 3, 2011
    Currently I pay around GB STG £11 for a bag of layer pellets.
    I supplement this with grit, green veg, worms, etc - hopefully
    to give an all-round diet.

    How do I go about reducing my chicken-food bill? So far I have
    friends give me greens off their allotments, grit from crushed
    egg-shells and free-range activity and worms I dig up.

    That leaves the layer pellets. I'd like to reduce the cost of that - how?
    There are no other chicken-keepers around me so I cannot join
    purchasing power but I can bulk-buy pellets. Howlong do they keep
    and what sort of quantity would I have to buy? How much might
    this save, or is it all too much bother for what it's worth?

    I'm running a chart just now to see how much I pay out and how
    many eggs I get - just to see how much it costs per egg!
    Have you ever done this, and what did it come to?

    Many thanks
    Kevin

    ps this replaces the earlier post which I deleted. Sometimes my
    disability gets in the way of using my computer.
     
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    7,950
    271
    321
    Aug 20, 2010
    Colmesneil,TX
    The only input I can give is that I believe it's been stated not to buy more feed than they can eat in a month. It looks to me like you're already doing all you can to reduce feed costs without having ill effects on your chickens. You don't say whether they forage or have room to forage much but that is one way some cut the feed bill. When they forage a lot, they do eat less feed.
     
  3. BigDaddy'sGurl

    BigDaddy'sGurl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2010
    Wilkesboro NC
    If your chickens free range, you probably don't need the "grit". Chickens pick up all manner of pebbles and bits of rock to use as grit. I have my chickens outdoors on the ground in runs and have never had to supplement with grit. That would be one way to cut a little cost... If you have access to a feed barrel with an airtight seal lid, I would think you could store feed for a few months in it, provided it was really airtight... good luck!
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    5,999
    787
    326
    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    In winter my cost for eggs this year was $1.90 to $2 per dozen. This summer the cost plummets to $1.15 per dozen due to free ranging. One thing I don't purchase is scratch. We use table scraps as treats instead. Come winter I'll purchase sunflower seed again for those really cold days supplement of fat though did grow sunflower this year meaning we'll only purchase a 20 lb bag instead of a 40.

    Without being able to purchase bulk feed the only real cost savings you can do is cull low producers. At the least figure who's lacking and cull them before the non foraging winter months when their sole diet is out of your pocket. When adding to your flock it's not as fun but frugal to purchase point of lay chickens rather than raising from chicks. And then only purchase quality laying breeds.

    Here's a great link to cooking older birds:

    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/cookingwheritagechicken.pdf
     
  5. kevinhannan

    kevinhannan Chillin' With My Peeps

    186
    2
    91
    Aug 3, 2011
    Wow... what quality replies - thank you massively.

    Galanie - foraging? is that free-ranging? If so, my girls have quite a large area,
    soon to be expanded and this will also include grassland. I love your advice
    on keeping food for no more than one month. Thanks for your post!

    BDG - Thanks for your post; it is valuable in helping me keep food for
    longer - I don't have access to a large airtight container yet so this is
    something for later - which I will keep in mind. I'm getting the idea to use less
    grit as my girls will be getting enough from free-ranging.

    Egghead_Jnr - brilliant. Just what I need to know - thank you. I'll do a check on
    which girls are good layers and give away as pets the less productive ones.
    I wish I had known about growing sunflowers - I'll be sure to do that next
    year. I have thought to put in a low-energy cfl bulb (lit for 16hrs a day) in the coop
    to keep the girls laying. Have you thought of this? Or is it important to give them
    a rest?

    Thanks again guys for your time to read and reply.

    I know I say it a lot, but I mean it - you guys are the *very* best there is. ;-)

    Kevin
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Laying mash seems to go farther than pellets in my flocks. I also add whole grains to the base of laying mash....wheat, oats and black oil sunflower seeds(alfalfa in the winter)...a little cracked corn as well, but just a little. This seems to go farther than pelleted feeds and seems to keep them in better health. Takes longer to digest whole grains, providing a full feeling for a longer time. I big, galvanized trash can makes a good storage for bulk feeds and one can mix their feeds easily in this type of container...also easy to scoop from when feeding. I keep my feed can right next to my feeding station.

    I feed once a day...in the evenings for spring/summer months. This provides food for those who have not foraged well during the day and also keeps them hungry enough in the mornings to forage first, eat feed later. Putting out just enough for the flock to eat at one setting also keeps vermin down...they consume a surprising amount of your feeds.

    In the mornings for fall/winter months....gives them a nice meal on which they can nibble all day, clean up by evening and not devote valuable blood supplies needed for keeping warm to digesting an evening meal. It is a misconception that feeding before bedtime keeps a bird warm by the calories generated. Not so and actually diverts needed energy for keeping warm to digesting a meal....same concept as not swimming after a meal as your muscles may cramp~blood needed to supply oxygen to active muscles is being used to digest in this case.

    A trough style feeder wrapped in welded wire to prevent scratching and flicking of feeds is a money saver as well. You can really see how much is saved by the lack of wasted feed around this style of feeding. Easy to fill, easy to see how much is left over from a feeding so one can guage how much to give the next time.

    Deep litter method can provide more protein supplement for your flock....the bugs and such that like to burrow into and feed upon the fecal matter can provide extra protein for your flock.
     
  7. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,174
    47
    161
    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    I would just add that by adding grain to layer pellets you are reducing the protein content and most people feel higher protein helps them with laying and such. Please don't misunderstand I'm not saying don't do it or trying to squash that input.

    I'd just like to add something to it. Mealworms. They are extremely easy to raise, don't take alot of space or time and they would add protein to your girls so you could add grains (which are generally cheaper than feed). Chicken also love them and you can use them as treats.

    There is a whole thread right here on BYC in the feeding and manageing your flock section.

    I use the single bin method, so far it has been really easy and I've got my first batch of baby worms. The whole set up cost me about $30 US. I spent $20 for 2000 worms (you can always start with less worms) and $8 for a 50 lbs bag of wheat. I had a large plastic bin already laying around the house. They eat the wheat and I add veggies about once every 3-5 days for moisture. I usually use potato cause I can't eat a 10 lbs bag before it goes bad so this would be wasted food anyway. Some people are shy about worms and bugs but it is a very clean dry, smell free setup.
     
  8. KenK

    KenK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2011
    Georgia
    Quote:I do think feed will keep better in cooler weather. We have had temperature approaching 100 f here and I keep my feed in the house where it's cooled. I don't really know but have always thought England had a relatively cool climate.
     
  9. kevinhannan

    kevinhannan Chillin' With My Peeps

    186
    2
    91
    Aug 3, 2011
    Beekissed - I've saved your reply it's that useful - thank you indeed.
    There's so much there, I need to re-read it all to make sure I've taken it all in.
    Thanks again. Massively.

    Kizanne - lol! I did try to breed mealworms, only to discover that the
    batch I had had been given a chemical to keep them in juvenile stage.
    I've seen a supplier for un-adulterated mealworms and will breed again.
    Right now, the worms are coming from my garden, and my ex-bats
    are going nuts for them! I also appreciate your thoughts on protein etc.
    I have much to learn! Thanks for your post and your time to share.

    KenK - Hey Ken! It's not so much that we have a cooler climate - it's that
    it's nearly always wet (humidity) which affects the food and spoils it.
    Thanks for your time to reply ;-)
     
  10. ky-chicken-farmer

    ky-chicken-farmer Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    29
    Apr 28, 2011
    Since you have access to bulk pellets maybe you can find some 35 or 5O gal plastic barrels with lids. They seal out air and most importantly moisture... With the drums sealed your feed will keep for 2-3 months.(i add DE to help keep dry) you can find find these barrels in alot of industry supply stores and even Ebay... You can use buckets full of small gravel/sand for grit,
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by