Saving on the feed bill - my experience

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mrs. K, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,706
    1,332
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Many times people write on here, worried about the feed bill, a legitimate concern. I was personally asked about this topic, and when I gave my advice, I was asked to post it here. You may agree or disagree, or even have a better idea.

    The best ways to reduce your feed bill:

    Reduce the number of birds you have. Chicken math is real, we have all been bitten, but truthfully a smaller well cared for flock, is a better deal. Freezing eggs when plentiful can help one from buying eggs in the dark days of winter, but luckily most of us live where we can buy eggs if needed. Consider how many hens you truly need for your needs, and more than likely it is less than what is in your flock.

    I use a double bowl, putting the feed in the smaller inside bowl, the outer bowl is a black rubber bowl that has a 18 inch diameter. It collects a lot of feed that would be wasted if it fell on the run floor. When I first started with birds, after about 6 months I had a bad smell in the run, and it was spoiled wasted feed. By putting it in a double bowl, every few days, I clean that back up, dampen it, mix it with some scratch and it is eaten up.

    Do not have feed present 24 hours a day. Birds do not eat or drink in the dark. What you are most likely feeding is mice and rats. They come out at night. Do not feed the same amount each day. Some weather needs more feed, some seasons need more feed, some age groups need more feed. I check the bowl when I lock up at night, if there is left over feed, I feed less the next day. If it is completely gone, I feed a little more. If it is bitterly cold, I try and get down there just before dark, so that I can give scratch, an energy feed so they go to bed with a full crop.

    If the winter if it is bitter cold, I have been happy with a flock block, even though I am feeding rodents too. There is a lot of fat in those blocks, and fat is an energy food.

    I have tried both the fermented feed and the fodder. I am not real convinced that they add all that much more nutrition that commercial feed, but I am sure that they do add water to the bird. My commercial feed is just barely dampened so that it does not freeze in a solid block. I soak the scratch in the water + vinegar and stir it into the feed. In the winter, it is hard to have liquid water all day long, by adding it to the feed, I think it helps meet that need. . I was worried this year when I hatched out chicks in late October, that they might get dehydrated, and Orchid suggested this, and it worked well.

    I have gone to the nipple waterer when the weather is warm enough, one has much cleaner water. However, both kinds vertical and horizontal will freeze up if it gets below 20 degrees. Then I am back to the black rubber bowl, and it works just fine. I am unable to have warm water for my birds but by taking down water once a day, my birds have done fine for years

    Layer feed, flock raiser, chick starter commercial feed, is for the most part darn good feed. People worry and stress about the perfect feed. As I have made my living in commercial ag, believe me, people do not make money on unhealthy animals, well fed animals are much more healthy. So feed that is good enough for commercial birds is good enough for home grown birds. I know that there is an attitude that big commercial farmers are in it for the money, and they are, but what people don't seem to understand is that healthy animals make MORE money. Most people who are in the animal business, like animals and want to make money with them. Enough feed is way more important than perfect feed.

    While layer birds do benefit with added calcium, and that can be in the layer feed, or by adding it as a supplement while feeding either chick feed or flock feed to everyone else, and that is what I try to do. However, an occasionally 'wrong' bag will not have huge long term bad effects.

    Mrs K
     
    2 people like this.
  2. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

    508
    26
    98
    Feb 1, 2015
    Georgia
    Enjoyed reading your post. Got some new ideas to try out. Thanks!
     
  3. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,845
    408
    231
    Dec 29, 2014
    greece
    thank you. you have just reminded me that I forgot the chicken food in the backyard!

    if you can get good chicken food, I agree it is ok. but I live in greece and with the crisis that is going on, people try to save money and sell god knows what. I have no choice but give whole grains to my chicken - this is the only way I am 100% sure about what I give them. and for calcium, I give them boiled or baked egg shells, grit and oat flakes, some yogurt (calcium and protein), boiled or scrambled eggs (protein) and they find some insects and worms. I also give them veggies and fruit (they like pumpkin and banana). I have 3 laying pullets only so I don't have too many eggs. In case I had, I would feed them chicken. my chicken love a mix of eggs, bread, yogurt, oat flakes, garlic, etc. you can put whatever you have, even boiled potatoes and rice and they are going to explore it and enjoy eating it.

    my red sex link gives me 5-6 eggs/wk, 2 greek hooded pullets, about 4 months old, both started laying yesterday, and both of them layed even today! I guess I am feeding them well and not spending a lot of money.

    here are my girls:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

    508
    26
    98
    Feb 1, 2015
    Georgia
    Wow, you have some beautiful chickens. My ladies also get some food scraps but I have easy access to high quality layer feed so I don't have to worry about nutrient level. From the looks of your pictures you seem to be doing an exceptional job at providing for your hens regardless of the lack of a commercial feed.
     
  5. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,845
    408
    231
    Dec 29, 2014
    greece
    thank you!
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,532
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Wonderful post, Mrs K!

    I especially agree with the part about reducing numbers. That's a hard thing for some folks, but less birds eat less feed, that's simple math.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,706
    1,332
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    @Chickengr - so limited in my thinking that everyone on here is from the USA, and you are right in that I really don't know what you would have available in Greece.

    I am a middle school teacher and I teach a section on Geography, so enjoyed learning about your Country.

    Mrs K
     
  8. steve232

    steve232 Chillin' With My Peeps

    60
    11
    66
    Jan 25, 2015
    North Carolina
    Interesting post Mrs. K. I always really enjoy reading your post.
     
  9. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,845
    408
    231
    Dec 29, 2014
    greece
    well, I am not greek! I am from bosnia and I am a teacher too, but as I lived in UK, italy, greece after my graduating, I did not teach for long. so I can tell you more geography!

    there are some cooperatives in greece where you can buy good food, but living on an island it would be too expensive to to go to the mainland to by it.

    for your geography information, I live in salamina, the closest island to peiraius, just 2 miles to the mainland. and even closer to megara, small town on the way from athens to peloponnese.

    liliana
     
  10. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,845
    408
    231
    Dec 29, 2014
    greece
    if we just throw some whole grains on a manure pile, will they sprout? crossed my mind when I saw my chickens scratching the manure looking for worms and insects.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by