A source of cheap chicken food is essential if you raise chickens for eggs, and you’re looking to beat the cost of eggs in the grocery store.
Commercial feed is expensive, and it drives up the cost of your egg production.
The more we divert corn to ethanol production, and the more corn that gets diverted to burn in corn stoves, the more expensive chicken feed is going to become because much of it is based on corn and other grains that are being used for other purposes.
It’s a shift in the marketplace.
Those of us involved in frugal living know very well that we either respond to changes in the economy, or we create marketplace alternatives of our own.
One of my neighbors raises chickens as more of a hobby than a means of feeding his family, and he jokingly says that his eggs cost him about $5 a piece.
Well, I know he’s exaggerating, but with commercial feed you might spend $5 to $6 per dozen eggs.
The reality of the situation is that commercial eggs are produced in mass quantities, so their cost reflects an economy that is driven by scale.
Cheap Chicken Food
Commercial egg producers might buy 50 tons of chicken feed, whereas the backyard producer buys chicken feed in 50 pound bags.
Therefore, if our egg production is going to be healthy and economical, we have to find a way to provide cheap chicken food to our girls that are cranking out the eggs.
My approach to lowering the cost of feeding my chickens centers on two things – scraps and greens.
Let’s look at how each of these can be used to provide cheap chicken food to lower the cost of feeding our chickens.
If you’re focused on frugal living, you don’t have a lot of waste that comes from your kitchen, but it happens, no matter how careful you are.
There are some foods that don’t lend themselves to being completely consumed.
For example, carcasses and bones. The carcasses and large bones of many animals will always have some scraps of meat on them.
Many people tell you not to feed your chickens meat, but they naturally eat meat, so I don’t mind providing them with scraps of meat in the form of bones and carcasses.
Vegetable cuttings and peelings offer another source of scraps for the chickens.
Dried or disfigured ends of vegetables are often cut off and discarded or thrown onto the compost pile.
If you think your chickens will eat it, toss it in with them.
One of the techniques we use to provide cheap chicken food is to mix oat meal and meat drippings. We fix bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet, and that allows us to drain the grease into a bowl with oat meal.
The oatmeal absorbs the grease, and the chickens love it.
We get rid of the grease, and they get a good source of food. We rarely put anything down the garbage disposal – it all goes to the chickens as scraps.
Chickens are great destroyers of a garden, mainly because they scratch. They can decimate vegetable seedlings with peek efficiency.
Chickens like tender greens such as seedlings, and they enjoy mature greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard and beet greens.
They’ll also eat radish leaves, collards and a variety of salad greens as well.
If you’re looking for cheap chicken food, look no further than your garden and your ability to grow food.
Extra lettuce and greens from the garden are used to supplement our chicken feed.
When lettuce bolts, we let it grow tall and then cut it off at the surface and feed the chickens the entire plant.
In the meantime, the lettuce sprouts new leaves from the stubs that sit just above the ground.
Another approach is to divide your chicken yard into three sections – one small section for the chickens, and two larger sections for their source of food.
Allow the chickens to denude the smaller section, as they will do this with sheer delight.
In the other two sections you grow greens of all varieties.
Allow the chickens to have access to a different section of greens each day for two days, and their own bare soil yard on the third day.
Rotating the chickens like this keeps the greens growing, and gives the chickens fresh food to supplement their feed.
While they feast on one section, water the other and let it recover. Be careful to match your number of chickens with the size of the sections.
I’d allow at least 100 square feet per chicken, otherwise they’ll destroy the greens to the point where they can’t grow back.
Still another approach to providing cheap chicken food is to create a garden bed close to the chickens. Harvest the food and toss it in. This is an ideal approach to growing summer squash.
Chickens and turkeys love summer squash, and it grows in abundance with ease.
Any of these techniques will provide cheap chicken food from seed, water, sunlight and soil. It’s nearly free – just add planning and labor.
We’re Talking About Food Recycling
Using scraps and greens is a way to recycle food that otherwise might go down the drain or wind up in the compost pile.
Our philosophy at Best of Both Worlds is simply this, “What we give to the chickens comes back to us in eggs.”
You’re probably not going to find cheap chicken food that is commercially produced unless you go to the source with a trailer or a dump truck.
Few of us have that option, so we can create our own feed supplement by making good use of our scraps and greens.
Frugal living demands that we reuse and recycle, and it demands that we find the most cost-effective use of our money.
Using scraps and growing food for our flock is a good way to provide cheap chicken food for our girls that keep us in fresh eggs.