I love my dear little chickens, I really do. But they cost an arm and a leg to feed! Shouldn’t the cost of raising chickens be less than what it takes to feed them? Isn’t that why we homesteaders got the little cutie-pies in the first place?
Okay, okay, I really wanted eggs that were organic and better tasting…selfish of me, I know. But the fact of the matter is that the cost of feeding chickens should so be so much less than the cost of buying feed from the store. So, I’ve found 10 ways on how to save money on chicken feed.
1. Feed Fodder to your Chickens
Fodder is a great way to supplement your chicken feed. Fodder are seeds, such as barley, wheat, and scratch grains, that are grown indoors without soil. It takes about 8 days to grow from seed to plant just by watering twice a day. Jessica at Days Past turns about 50 pounds of barley into 250 pounds of feed every 8 days. You can read about how to grow fodder here.
Now, my chickens have eaten all of the fresh grass in their run. Giving chickens fodder gives them the fresh grass and nutrients that they are missing.
2. Free range your Chickens
My chickens love to free range. I don’t let them free range during the entire day. That was a disaster when I did. (i.e. chickens on my neighbor’s back porches). But, when I get home from work, there is usually approximately one hour of daylight left. I let my chickens out at that time and they are extremely happy to be free to roam (and eat all the bugs they want!)
So, depending on your situation and where you live, free ranging can definitely be an option to save money on chicken feed. Chickens will scratch the ground, finding bugs and grass to eat. My girls could get fat free ranging all day.
3. Contact your local grocery store or restaurant
Your local grocery store or restaurant throws out tons of perfectly good table scraps every day. Try talking with the manager and ask if they will hold leftovers for you once a week that you could pick up. Maybe you can even dumpster dive (get permission first). Usually the store/restaurant is perfectly happy to put the leftovers to good use.
My friend works at a local restaurant. She knows that I look for ways to feed my chickens for cheap. One day she gave me a perfectly good 20-pound bag of couscous. All for me to eat? No way! I fed it to my chickens, after cooking it, of course.
4. Ferment your own chicken feed to save money on chicken feed
A nifty little process that you can do is to ferment your own chicken feed to save on money. This is a relatively new concept, but fermenting is actually quite common. If you have eaten cheese, yogurt, wine, kimchi, or sauerkraut, you have actually eaten fermented food.
Fermenting preserves and enhances food. It uses the natural bacteria in the food to partially break it down to increase its’ vitamin levels. The fermented feed increases in size, which reduces the amount of feed that the chickens eat.
Sound complicated? It’s not! Just put some feed in a glass jar, cover with water, and let sit for a few days. And now you have fermented feed. You can find a very detailed article about how to ferment feed here by Lisa at Murano Chicken Farm.
5. Grow chicken-friendly plants
We all know that chickens love plants. Just ask my flower planter that I placed outside my door during the summer last year. The plant didn’t last one day…I was a little upset. Sometimes I want to enjoy my flowers.
Anyways, in your garden, grow some extra plants designated just for the chickens. Plant pumpkins, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, sunflowers, etc.
On that thought alone, visit a pumpkin patch at the end of the season and ask for any pumpkins that they will throw away. If you try this and it works, let me know!
6. Feed your chickens kitchen-scraps
Your little carnivores will thank you when you give them your leftover kitchen scraps. My chickens fight each other for a piece of food. It’s pretty much the highlight of their day when I bring out the snacks.
After any meal, if there is any food leftover, simply keep a container next to the sink to hold the scraps. The next day (or the same day) take the scraps out to the chickens.
When my hubby and I eat at a restaurant, I always bring back the leftovers for the chickens. If I am with anyone else, I bring home their table scraps as well too. Don’t be too shy to ask for the food that is going to get thrown away anyways.
Don’t forget about chicken bones or a turkey carcass. Chances are that there is still plenty of meat left on those bones. Throw it out for your chickens and they will clean it down to the bone.
8. Raise Mealworms to feed to chickens
It sounds gross, I know. But raising your own mealworms is a sustainable and cheap source of feed for chickens. By purchasing 100 mealworms and supplies for approximately $10, you can replicate and save the cost of about $50 worth of feed. To read about how to grow mealworms, click here.
9. Feed weeds to your chickens
Weeds? The invasive plants that drive me crazy? Yes! Feed your weeds to your chickens. Apparently they really go for the stuff. Instead of tossing out or burning the weeds, let your chickens pick through the weeds and eat what they enjoy. Maybe now I’ll enjoy the process of weeding out my plants…
10. Cook leftover eggs for chickens
Are your chickens producing too many eggs for you to eat? Boil the leftover eggs and feed them back to the chickens. Sound weird to feed chickens their own eggs? They don’t mind, they think it’s delicious!
Don’t be afraid to get creative when finding ways to save money on chicken feed. Before tossing something in the garbage, think, is this something I can feed my chicken? Try out something new, like fermenting feed, to see if that will save you some money. Let me know what ways you have tried in saving costs on feed!