What do you do to save money on feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LaynaDon95, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,072
    30
    183
    Jan 18, 2012
    Texas
    Okay, so I've spent the better part of today researching ways to cut down on the feed bill. I put all the blame on Aoxa! [​IMG] I was browsing the "How do you store your feed?" thread when I saw her (right? her?) post about how much feed she goes through a week. Half as much as I do! [​IMG] How is that possible? Even feeding them as much as I do, they are always surrounding me, begging for more when I walk outside. Her dirty little secret? She ferments it! So, I got together some of my free bakery buckets, and put in some feed to ferment. I'll see how my flock likes it, and how it affects my feed bill. It supposed to make the nutrients in the feed more easily digestible so the birds get more nutrients, which keeps them fuller longer, which cuts down on their feed consumption! I've also started researching meal worm farming and am working on getting supplies to start it up. If this thread takes off, I'll update everyone on how it goes. [​IMG] We also do our best to grow a lot of food for the chickens in our garden. Unfortunately, we were not successful getting in a fall garden this year, so we'll have to wait 'til spring next year, but my flock LOVED their cherry tomatoes, pumpkins (which double as a wormer!), squash, zucchini, watermelon, etc. from our last garden. Even some of their scratch grains sprouted accidentally, so we were able to harvest them and save some money on scratch!
    So my question for all you other thrifty backyard chicken raisers, what do you do to get the most out of your money when it comes to flock raising? Care to share any penny pinching tips with the rest of us? [​IMG]
     
  2. americanvalkyrie

    americanvalkyrie Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,056
    55
    171
    Nov 20, 2011
    Reno, NV
    I keep up on the oyster shell so it doesn't affect eggs if they get non-feed. They love my dogs food. LOVE it so much that my kids are strictly instructed to turn around and watch the door close, so they don't slam any chickens in it as they try to get inside and get the food. It's Walmart brand so it's high on grain count anyway, so I let them have a handful or so a day. The dogs eat their food, so I let them reciprocate. Not too much, but a little. Basically, I don't stress the small stuff. Lawn just got mowed? I dump the clippings in the yard, let them eat a little, and they play in the rest. Plant-based kitchen waste (anything that won't harm them) goes out. When the garden froze, I saved my still-green winter squash for them. And when I cook my squash, I save the seeds. Leftover rice, apple cores... etc. I make my own yogurt, then strain it into Greek yogurt, and give the chickens the whey. They love it and it gives them protein and probiotics.

    There are some things that just aren't good for them. And when I caught my son giving them an entire mixing bowl full of dog food, I let him know that it could upset the nutritional balance. A few days later, I showed him some weak egg shells, and that convinced him. But a little of this and a little of that does cut down on the high-priced feed they eat. I don't freak out about giving them only a specific kind of feed. They've been raised as scavengers before "chicken feed" was invented, and their digestive systems work well with it.
     
  3. jrosemoore

    jrosemoore Chillin' With My Peeps

    113
    2
    103
    Apr 15, 2010
    Nebraska
    Give them my leftovers. Old cereals. Dry bread. Cracked corn that we feed the cows.

    The worst part? During the summer months I only feed them every other day so they go out and scavenge more. It works. Usually when I feed them(right before sunset) they are almost full off of bugs, greens, seeds, and corn. Hehehe.
     
  4. jrosemoore

    jrosemoore Chillin' With My Peeps

    113
    2
    103
    Apr 15, 2010
    Nebraska
    I don't feed oyster shell. It worries me to think there might be a higher mercury count in there since oysters come from the ocean. I do feed them back their shells crushed in the food.
     
  5. americanvalkyrie

    americanvalkyrie Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,056
    55
    171
    Nov 20, 2011
    Reno, NV
    I've considered doing this. Currently we compost all shells for the garden. I've heard it could possibly contribute to egg eating... have you noticed that at all? How small do you crush them?

    ETA: Oh yeah, and the biggest thing we do to cut down on feed costs? We have a couple of rotating egg customers, and that money is used to buy feed. When egg count dwindles (like right now) I keep cartons in the fridge with customers' names on them, and due dates. Family members are instructed to be sure those crates are filled with the best eggs before chowing down. Have to bring in that feed money!
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  6. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,072
    30
    183
    Jan 18, 2012
    Texas
    I used to feed the shells back to my girls, but they stopped eating them. Maybe that meant they had enough calcium at the time? [​IMG] I have oyster shell, but they won't eat it! Arrgh! lol I guess they just don't need the extra calcium. Their shells are fine.
    I never had a problem with egg eating when I fed their shells back to them. My grandma does the same, and no problem.

    We have been trying to sell to a friend of a friend, but we can't seem to stay in touch with them! @[email protected]
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  7. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,072
    30
    183
    Jan 18, 2012
    Texas
    Thank you both for your ideas! Looking forward to seeing everyone's! :)
     
  8. jrosemoore

    jrosemoore Chillin' With My Peeps

    113
    2
    103
    Apr 15, 2010
    Nebraska

    When I give them back their shells I usually just crush them with my hand and then put it in a container with other leftovers for the day saved for just my chickens. I do sell a couple dozen every sunday at church, that helps the feed bill. I also firmly believe that if it isn't laying an egg or being kept for breeding, then I don't keep it.

    The only time I had an egg eater issue was when I went on vacation with a young kid watching my chickens. He didn't feed them. Luckily, when I came back they were all fine...but had turned on their own eggs. Once they were all well fed again they stopped. All but one hen.

    How did I find the bad girl? I laid a fresh egg out on the ground, called the chicks over like I do for dinner time, and then watched as one by one they rolled the egg until the evil hen came up and pecked right through it. Guess where she landed herself that night? Hehe. Let's just say the soup was delicious.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  9. americanvalkyrie

    americanvalkyrie Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,056
    55
    171
    Nov 20, 2011
    Reno, NV
    Same here. Unfortunately, even some of my new pullets have stopped laying for the winter, so I'm going to have to hold off on that sentiment until they get more of a chance to prove themselves. I'm going to put a light in their coop and see if that helps. It gets dark at 6pm now, and daylight savings time is about to end as well.
     
  10. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,380
    81
    168
    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    Our production has slowed way down as well...down to less than 12 hrs/day now. We considered the idea of providing supplemental light but decided not to, although we may change our minds later on. If we even get 2 eggs a day, it's generally more than we use, so it's not a big deal for us. I've been selling the extras to help with the feed, and I give them LOTS of other stuff...all the weeds I pull go in their pen, plus I make and give them yogurt, all the veg and meat trimmings go in the run for them as well. Of course, weeds aren't going to be available much longer :( I picked quite a lot of clover, weeds and comfrey and dried it all, so they'll get that over the winter. Plus I'm going to try fermenting grains for them, which is supposed to cut way down on their food consumption. Along with that, I'm going to sprout various grains and seeds so they'll have greens all winter.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by