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I love my chickens, as a matter of fact, I couldn’t live without my chickens anymore. Problem is, chickens can cost quite a penny if you don’t regulate their food intake and if you don’t have any commercial intentions with them.
Even if you have commercial intentions with them it’s always useful to know your cheap chicken feed.
Grains for chickens cost money and nowadays, people are so used to seeing chickens eating nothing but grains that they don’t really think about the fact that chickens in nature, have a whole different diet.
Finding cheap chicken feed in the shop is next to impossible but it is possible to find your own cheap chicken feed if you know where to look.
Some of the options mentioned do cost some time and effort. Other options are quite easy to start with.
I must say that several points spoken about here are coming from the chicken ninja Justin Rhodes. He also inspired me to write down how I cut the cost of chicken feed.
Cull unnecessary members
Old hens and young roosters should be culled when they are “unnecessary”. I know this is a hard one to crack. But if you want to grow them for cheap and maybe make some money with it, you’ll have to go through with this one. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an apartment building full of chickens.
You can give chickens away to other people but you’d better use them as food. By using them as food, you’ll cut out quite a bit of money.
Calculate the amount of food
Chickens only need about 150 grams of food a day. So, calculate how much food you really need if you supplement with some of the options shown below.
If you feed your chickens too much grain, they will leave the other foods alone and live purely off of the grains you give. But if you give them only half of the amount they need, they will eat whatever else you give them.
Stale bread isn’t a really healthy food but I do give my chickens stale bread, every 3 days and they just love it. I do make sure that they get at least 50% of their food in a special chicken grain mix that day, as bread is something that fills the belly but doesn’t have any nutrients in it.
Feed your chickens weeds
You should get your hands on weeds and feed your chickens weed. You can let your chickens scratch in your garden.Or you can cut the weeds and feed it to them. This is really cheap chicken feed but it contains a lot of necessary nutrients for the chickens.
Weeds that go to seed can be a real pain for gardeners but it can also provide seeds for your chickens. There are also bugs in the weeds that the chickens can eat.
You can even start sprouting weed seeds and give this as feed to your chickens.
Grow cheap chicken feed
You don’t need to have a big garden to grow chicken food. People tend to think of plants like corn and wheat and all kinds of grains but it can be a lot easier.
My chickens get endive, red leaf chicory, lettuce, kale, broccoli leaves, … and the list goes on and on. Think about it for a moment. How much does it cost to grow one lettuce or one endive from seed? Me, for instance, I grow lettuce or endive at not even 1 cent for 1 plant. So it must be worth it in the end, don’t you think?
Sprouting wheat or barley is another way to cut the cost and provide some cheap chicken feed. You can even continue this food source in the middle of the winter.
No, seriously, go fishing. I’m not able to go fishing anymore as my back is killing me. But there was a time when I fed my chickens half a pound of fish a day. And it cost me literally nothing except for my fishing gear. I even had a great time fishing. Don’t overdo it with fish though, because the eggs can get a fishy smell, really.
I must say, mealworms aren’t the cheapest critters around. Mealworms are even quite expensive to grow. I can buy a bag of wheat bran of about 30 pounds for 7euros. From this bag, I can grow about 15 pounds of mealworms. Compare that to regular chicken food and it looks quite expensive but…
7 euros for 15 pounds of mealworms is about as expensive as a normal bag of chicken food but you don’t give that many mealworms to your flock, do you? In the end, it helps out the chickens with 20% of protein and 13 % of fat for each gram of mealworms they eat.
You can also sell your mealworms for a lot more money than they cost to grow. Live mealworms sell for as much as 14 euros a kilogram or 2,2 pounds. So for 1 kilogram of mealworms, you can buy more than 20 kilograms of chicken food. Doesn’t that sound good? Just try it, you’ll see, it makes a huge difference.
Grow composting worms as cheap chicken feed
The only cost you’ll ever have to grow composting worms is the material to grow them in and maybe the first pound of worms. You can make a bedding out of cardboard which you can get for free. You can use your kitchen scraps to feed your worms. And you need the material to put them in. It’s not even a lot of work if you do it right. Do you know that, here in Belgium, composting worms can go for as much as 35 euros for 1 kilogram or 2,2 pounds of worms? You also get an added bonus, grow your vegetables with 10% vermicompost in the soil and you’ll get rewarded big time by your plants.
I sell my composting worms as well. But I only ask about 15 euros for a kilo. This still makes a huge income to keep my chickens happy. And I grow enough worms so I can feed my chickens with these worms as well.
If you want to start a worm bin, you can read this article.
Give your chickens kitchen scraps
Ok, now you can say:” But what about the composting worms?”, and you’re totally right. Did I mention that I help my neighbors out by accepting all their kitchen scraps? Now they don’t have to pay the company that normally comes to take their green waste away.
Build a compost heap in the chicken run
Yes, that’s right. Build a compost heap in the chicken run. You can pile up green waste, kitchen scrap,s wood chips and a whole lot more organic materials. Fence off the heap for a while until it’s filled with insects and other critters. Now remove the fence and your chickens will go crazy over it. They will even eat the fungus growing in the wood chips. Then you can pile up again and start all over.
First a word of caution
What follows next can be done but it involves detailed control. Do this at your own risk and follow the guidelines properly to avoid problems. I’m in no way responsible if things go wrong.
If you live in a zone where the soldier fly can survive, try growing soldier fly larvae. Especially in summer, it’s really easy to do and you don’t need too much material to start. A word of caution, watch out with meat because spoiled meat can make your chickens, and you as well, really sick.
I personally tried growing maggots but as we don’t have the soldier fly around here, I stopped the project. The smell was awful and it could have led to disaster due to the fly colony that was flying around. One of the good things about the soldier fly is the fact that they outcompete the other flies. The soldier fly also doesn’t need meat to be attracted.
Give your chickens eggs
Are you sick of eating 5 eggs a day because you just have too many eggs? Boil the eggs and give them to your chickens. The chickens will love you for it. Just don’t forget to mash the eggs so your chickens don’t know they are eating eggs.
And leave the eggshell in the mash.
Give your chickens meat
Do you have meat left over? Cut it into small pieces and give it to the chickens. Just make sure they eat everything before it spoils. Spoiled meat can kill your chickens.
There are many ways to cut down the cost for chicken food, I’m sure you’ll find at least one of the ways, explained in this article, to suit your needs and get some cheap chicken feed.
I’m sure, there are still many other ways and if I find any, I’ll amend this article.
So this is it for this article on how to feed your chickens for cheap, I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.