Chicken Feed Prices

by Merissa on August 7, 2012

in Featured, Homestead Hints

Chicken Feed Prices

Chicken Feed Prices

In theory, raising backyard chickens sounds like a great idea. Fresh eggs, fresh meat, nothing can replace those good things! It's just a natural step in homestead living right? Unfortunately, where raising chickens used to be more cost effective then buying eggs and meat from the store, chicken feed prices have gone up so high that it's getting harder to justify it.

Lately we've been doing more things to help bring down chicken feed prices around our homestead. Hopefully some of these tips will help you!

1. Let your chickens be free range. If you have the land and are able, let your chickens be free range. Unless you live in a very lush, fertile area (not the drought stricken midwest!) you will still have to supplement with feed, but your chickens will be happier and healthier when they are allowed to roam free. Our chickens love scooping up grasshoppers and other bugs and plants as they wander around the backyard. Our ducks especially love being free range since they love to eat the weeds around the yard, which is fine with me!

2. Shop around before you buy. Just because the feed store down the road carries chicken feed, it doesn't mean that it's the best deal! One might argue that we should stick to the closest stores right now with the price of gas but we prefer to drive to the store further away and stock up while we are there to make it worth our while. Watch for sales too at the chain feed stores to try and get an even better deal. It's usually a good idea to stock up on feed in the spring when the stores bring all the baby chicks in because they have great sales!

3. Scraps, scraps, scraps! Our chickens are totally spoiled. Not only are they free range and have the run of our 10 acres, they also get all kinds of goodies from the house! Fruit and vegetable peelings, old food from the pantry or fridge....they love it all! Another thing they love to eat in the fall is the old garden plants. Pull them out of the garden and let the chickens have dessert! I make it a point to take out my scrap bucket each day for my chickens.

4. Try different kinds of feed. We used to feed our chickens the nice finer grained chicken feed but then switched over to pellets. The chickens didn't like it at first but they got over it pretty fast. ;) With the pellets there is less waste because they don't fling the feed all over the ground.

5. Check for locally milled feed. If you have a local mill in town you might be able to purchase grains and feeds cheaper than from the chain stores.

A few notes....I know alot of websites recommend buying cracked corn to feed to chickens to save on chicken feed prices. I think this is a good idea ONLY if the corn is non-GMO. Remember that whatever your chickens eat, you are eating too! I also say several "recipes" for homemade chicken feed. These require some good nutrition knowledge and if you look at the recipe I'm not actually sure it would be any cheaper than just buying a bag already mixed up. If anyone makes feed and it's cheaper than store bought feed, please leave a comment about it!

Don't forget that you can also feed your chickens clabber to give them extra protein and keep them healthy.  Learn more about Homestead Living and Raising Backyard Chickens!

What are some ways you save on chicken feed prices?

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jane Cranor August 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

You can also feed the inevitable cracked and broken eggs back to them..just hard boil and grind them up.

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2 Analisa Lopez August 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thank you for this! You read my mind today!

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3 Fay Clegg August 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

I have read that corn is like candy to chickens. They love it but if they eat too much, it will make them overweight and they won’t lay as well. Merissa, have you ever seen the feed on sale besides in the Spring?????

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4 Merissa August 7, 2012 at 10:17 am

I’ve seen it on sale here and there throughout the year but always in the spring for sure.

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5 RevAllyson August 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Ask at your local grocery store what they do with produce that they have to get rid of. I guarantee your chickens won’t care if you’re giving them slightly moldy zucchini or cucumber, or lettuce that’s a bit squishy. The stores here are willing to give you truck-loads if you ask for it!

We don’t have chickens right now, but we had for years and years (just moved, haven’t gotten the new coop together yet). We bought some pellets (it lasts longer than the “good” food and has the same nutrition level), some corn (mixed in and for a “treat” to get the hens back in the coop at night), lots of scraps, and whatever bugs we found on plants in the garden.

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6 Leah November 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

If you find a grocery store that will give you the old produce, consider yourself lucky. I have asked my local store and it is not allowed there.

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7 Amy Mantei August 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

How do you keep your free range chickens off your porch and cars? Ours love our porch and come up and leave “presents” all over. My hubby is ready to coop them up again!

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8 Little House on the Prairie Living August 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Amy Mantei, I don’t but they pretty much stay off. Occasionally I’ll have one up on the deck but they know that’s the cats domain so they stay underneath instead!

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9 Andrea August 8, 2012 at 4:33 am

Thanks for sharing. I hope to be able to get chickens in a year or two when we can buy a home of our own.

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10 Joanie @ Simple Living Mama August 9, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thanks for the ideas. I’m going to pin this! We give our chickens our veggie scraps and veggies that are starting to go bad. They love them. I wish we could let them free-range, but the dogs would eat them. :( Hopefully one day we can build them a bigger enclosure than just the run they have.

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11 Don August 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I buy most of my chicken feed at Rural King. I watch and try to stock up when it’s on sale also. One thing I found was Stock Sweet Feed. It’s 12% protein and the chickens love it. I just add some in with their regular layer pellets and grain. Most times a 50 lb bag is like $7.00 but sometimes they have a buy on/get one free deal. When this happens the stock up is one. It really stetches the feed and I’ve not noticed and reduction in egg production.

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12 Merissa August 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

WOW! Where are you that feed is $7 per 50lb bag?? Here it is $13-$14 per bag.

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13 Don August 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

This isn’t chicken feed, it’s stock sweet feed for live stock. I’m in southern IL. Orschelon’s (think I spelled that right) has good deals on feed also. 16% layer crumbles or pellets are like $10 per 40 lb bag, corn is about the same. It’s not purina, it’s the store brands but my birds do great on it and have execellent production. The sweet feed has good stuff in it like corn,wheat,barley,and molasses. If you feed them to much they tend to poop alot though but to supplement their feed is great. I bounce between Orschelon’s and Rural King, whichever has the better deal on feed. You can look both up online and find if they’re close to you.

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14 Don August 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

This isn’t chicken feed, it’s stock sweet feed for live stock. I’m in southern IL. Orschelon’s (think I spelled that right) has good deals on feed also. 16% layer crumbles or pellets are like $10 per 40 lb bag, corn is about the same. It’s not purina, it’s the store brands but my birds do great on it and have execellent production. The sweet feed has good stuff in it like corn,wheat,barley,and molasses. If you feed them to much they tend to poop alot though but to supplement their feed is great. I bounce between Orschelon’s and Rural King, whichever has the better deal on feed. You can look both up online and find if they’re close to you.

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15 tori August 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm

We free range now and the chickens are super happy when they get scraps. Can’t keep a compost pile because the chickens eat it all! :)

We do seperate our mother hen and baby, but that’s just because I was advised to do so by the woman who gave me my first chickens. They eat mostly grass, but I give them some grower feed. I wish our prices were as nice as Don’s! :)

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16 Beth August 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I was going to buy the organic chicken feed from Azure. With shipping costs that are outrageous elsewhere, this seems to be the best buy. Do you use their feed also?

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17 Merissa August 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I don’t yet but we have considered in the past. I think it’s a great price for organic feed.

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18 jenni January 25, 2014 at 4:39 am

We use feed from Azure and it’s great, the price is a little lower than our locally made organic feed. We have also learned that pellets are helpful in reducing waste and spreading weed seeds around the backyard.

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19 christy August 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hi everyone! I just started with my chickens about a year and half ago we got them at a feed store and they started laying eggs in August. My problem is they stoped laying around Feb. are they going to start laying again. We got some more chicks in March and have had a couple of eggs here and there not shur what to do Any ideas would be very appreciated. Thanks

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20 Merissa August 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Sometimes we have chickens go through dry spells like that too and we aren’t sure why. Can be a change in the weather or something they don’t like in their barn or maybe some creature is bothering them. We just had an ordeal with a skunk and our chickens wouldn’t lay for a long time.

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21 Merissa August 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm

You might want to check out this article as well: http://www.littlehouseliving.com/homestead-hints-where-did-my-egg-go.html

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22 Rachel September 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm

This is called “molting” and it’s a natural process. It usually occurs once per year.

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23 MCrow February 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I put lights on timers in my hen house when the days get shorter so they get approximately 12 to 14 hours of light a day, then they’ll keep laying. Kinda depends on the breed too. Some do lay better through the winter months than others. They should have access to grit/oyster shell all the time as well, that is just good for they overall health. Good luck. I love my girls!

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24 Don August 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I’ve found that if i hang a light bulb in the chicken house on a timer so they get more light mine lay better in the winter months. I set the timer to come on about 5am and then off about 10pm also an old chicken raiser told me to make sure they have luke warm water at least twice a day. Since doing these 2 thing mine has layed pretty good with only a slight reduction in production

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25 Mama August 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm

We spoil our chickens too! They especially love the protein and carbs! lol We used to compost our leftovers, but during the gardening season we can’t free range (the chickens would kill our meager garden) so we give much of it to them instead!

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26 Marianne August 18, 2012 at 11:15 am

Bug bucket. Bugs. I’m against ‘em. But the hens need protein and bugs are protein. Yeck. I saw a video on Permies.com that showed a tripod made from tree cuttings and a bucket hanging in the center. There were holes cut into the sides on the bucket, about an inch from the bottom. If I remember this correctly, the guy put icky meat (road kill would work) in the bucket, and then some mulch on the top to hold down the smell. As the meat got really crappy, maggots would drop out of the holes for the hens. Black soldier flies were buzzing around and then hens would snag them, too.
It’s easy to make a Bug Board, too. Any scrap plywood or wood laying flat on the ground. After it rains, move the board and there are usually tons of bugs underneath.
And of course, grow some food for them. :o) I throw Scratch grains out into their ‘front yard’. What doesn’t get eaten will grow more food for them (except cracked corn, of course). This year my hens had a great mini ecosystem in front of the coop. Tall plants including weeds, sunflowers, milo, grasses, volunteer tomatoes, etc, in spite of our extended drought. Lots of shade, cooler spaces underneath and more food for them.

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27 Marianne August 18, 2012 at 11:23 am

Oh! I almost forgot! I get fat trimmings from our meat market for nothing. Then I put them in the freezer to bring out for the barn cats and chickens in the winter when they need more fat. Originally I got it to add to the cats food, then I saw the hens were grabbing it, too.
I also learned how to ‘whack up’ a deer this past year. I ended up with three of them from hunters that already took what meat they wanted. I trimmed off a lot of small pieces, including rib bones, to feed raw to dogs, cats and chickens. It helped that I had someone there to teach me…kept me from freaking out.

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28 Nam October 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I don’t know about meat or the organic or non-organic fruit and veetgables but I can tell you when we had our chickens and let them roam where they would you could sure tell the difference in the eggs from them and the eggs from the store in both color and taste! Free range chicken eggs are like so rich in flavor you. Very good eating.References :

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29 Brenda February 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

My concern about feeding any poultry feed is the vitamin K ingredient. I first found out it being toxic when discovered in cat food. I now make all our cat and dog food myself. I was shocked when I found it as an ingredient in chicken feed as well – even the organic feed – even from Azure Standard. I no longer feel good about buying ANY bagged feed and I don’t know how to make my own. I did make my own for the 3 months we had meat birds and they survived quite well – but it was more expensive and I don’t know if it was the correct ratios ect and if laying hens could live on it year round. Check out the ingredients – I don’t have it in front of me – you will have to research it. It is the synthetic Vitamin K – has a long name something like menadione. Then research it – it’s NOT good!

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30 Heather January 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

Have you tried communicating with the folks at Azure about it? Chances are they are either mixing their feed themselves or the people who they get it from are a family business and probably Azure members, too. The Azure people own their own farms, and a lot of the bulk grains they sell, they grow. Customer service is generally very responsive.

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31 Helen February 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Sprouts! Chickens love sprouts. You can buy oats, not steamed or crimped, and soak them in a bucket overnight, rinse daily, keep them warm and next thing you know sprouts. We have a bunch of buckets with holes drilled in the bottom, the strainer buckets that sit in other buckets to catch draining water. Our chickens love it when they get sprouts, and it is great feed value. We use the triple clean oats from the local feed store.

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32 Maggie April 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm

We were lucky enough to find a mill about 35 miles from us that sells their own organic feeds :) We also let our chickens free range and they get all of our scraps too. We have such happy healthy birds! When we 1st switched to this feed our chickens that hadn’t layed an egg in months, all started laying within 2 days!

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33 Evan April 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Go to your local brewery and ask about the spent brewers grains!! My girls love it!! Awesome treat to supplement the feed and the free ranging!!! And, it’s free!! You just might need to lay it out on a clean tarp to dry it out for storing it!!

Evan
‘There’s Just Something About Chickens’ Facebook page.

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34 Benjamin Comeau April 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

A couple ideas that may work for some of you. Our local Tractor Supply Company store has a price match policy & they’ll even match another stores brand w/theirs as long as it’s “apples to apples”. It pays to call around for competitive pricing. Also, I had a friend who drove 2 hours away to buy organic feed for his layers so he could sell true organic eggs to restaurants. He offset the expense by also buying organic feed for others on his area & selling it for a slight profit.

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35 gladys kelley May 30, 2013 at 2:47 am

enjoyed reading about laying hens

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36 Patricia King July 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Where I live we can’t let the chickens free range due to stray dogs – we already lost 5 chickens – I buy day old bread at $ 3.00 for a huge bag – grind it up and freeze it to feed chickens along with the table scraps

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37 Merissa July 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Good idea!

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38 claire November 1, 2013 at 2:29 am

I’m over in Ireland..ALL chicken food on my peninsula has GM ingredients :-( so I get organic ordered in especially. It 17 euro a 25kg bag so gets costly if that’s all you feed em. We have long dark days (northwest atlantic coast) AND my chickens seem really fussy about scraps…they eat very little of the veggie scraps? They love the dog food? They do roam the fields though so that’s something..:-)
Might try the light timer thing although to be honest, they’ve always been poor layers so it might have to be the pot and start again next spring..

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39 Ruthann November 1, 2013 at 6:31 am

One way we found to cut down on feed costs (we buy soy-free organic feed due to allergies and 1-25# bag is $40) is to ferment our feed as the supplement to free ranging. It has SO many great benefits and we have seen a decrease in our overall feed bill – even with our meat birds. It cuts down on the really stinky poo, there is little waste and in the summer when bugs are aplenty, we notice they eat less so we save there as well! There are SO many benefits to fermenting I could go on and on!! :)

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40 Janet Ramski November 1, 2013 at 6:39 am

I leave a bucket at a local restaurant each day, the dishwasher scrapes the plates into it and they also put the salad prep waste in there. I pick it up each morning and yeah, boyo, my hens love it! 5 gallons of scraps sure helps out MY feed bill!

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41 Jocelyn November 1, 2013 at 7:41 am

Do you have any restaurant friends? We have an Italian restaurant down the road from us that my mom used to work at and they save all their scraps in a bucket for us every evening! It’s great!

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42 Stephanie November 1, 2013 at 7:41 am

Thanks for the advice! Are there any foods that are known to be toxic to chickens?

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43 Merissa November 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Basically you can feed them pretty much anything you would eat yourself. Stay away from rhubarb leaves and dried beans (though they can have cooked). Remember that anything in extreme excess might flavor your eggs too :)

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44 Cathy Waters November 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

We already do these things. We also found that our local feed mill does GMO. So things are being done a bit different because of it

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45 barbara bean November 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I also feed my chickens wood ash.I just throw it on the ground. I had blue jays eating it like crazy. I learn from watching the blue jays. My chickens do not molt.

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46 Anita Hunt January 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Stephanie: No chocolate, avocados, green potatoes, and as Merissa said, dried beans and rhubarb leaves. There are a few insects like rose chafers that I wish they could eat, but are toxic to them, and fortunately they won’t touch them. I also do vermicultute (worm composting) and raise mealworms in bins. Both are great high protein treats, and once begun, almost no cost. A winter treat is a pan of warm oatmeal cooked with veggie and fruit peelings & hard old raisins and some blackstrap molasses. I sometimes scramble up cracked or older eggs, with ground up shells– Oh, they gobble those up! And lots of clean water.

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47 Diann January 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm

You can contact a local brewery or home brewer for their spent grains from brewing. Usually it just goes to the trash. They may let you take it for free. We give our spent grains to a local couple with lots of chickens

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48 Carrie January 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Too much fruit and veggies will mess up egg production. Chickens need protein and with out it there will not be any eggs. I found this out the hard way this summer. I was giving my chickens lots of scraps from my garden and a friends garden. This really limited the amount of eggs they produced. Once we upped their protein, the eggs came back.

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49 Tammy January 25, 2014 at 12:00 am

I buy the organic, soy free pellets from Azure Standard. Only $22 for a 40 lb bag. Great deal, and they get scraps each day, as well. :)

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50 Tammy January 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

I buy the organic, soy free pellets from Azure Standard. Only $22 for a 40 lb bag. Great deal, and they get scraps each day, as well. :)

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51 jenni January 25, 2014 at 4:40 am

Our hens live in a tractor (coop on wheels). I plant rye grass for them to eat as they “move” around the yard. I also plant a big patch of wheat/oats for them to eat in the spring and we use the left over straw for bedding in the nesting box. I wish that we could let them roam free, but I have to keep them contained or they would destroy my garden looking for worms! They get lots of scraps and greens from the garden as well as bugs my children find.

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52 barb January 26, 2014 at 7:37 am

I live on a fenced city lot. I have a garden and fence it using the green color one with large squares. You can add another row of fencing on top. Just weave sticks or poles to attach it. Chickens stay out.

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53 Ellen January 25, 2014 at 7:30 am

I have experimented w/ feeding them wheat fodder- they love it and it is also supposed to be chock full of good things. In our awful cold Indiana winter, it makes for a taste of spring- they love the green sprouts and gobble it down, roots, seed and all. It does seem, however, to be somewhat labor intensive if one doesn’t have an auto watering system. in any case I will be starting seeds soon and the fodder was a stop gap for my green thumb until it was time to start my garden transplants.

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54 Paula January 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

Watched a program on You Tube from the BBC called Victorian Farm. They raised mangelwurzels, a member of the beet family, then copped them as feed supplements for cattle, pigs and chickens. We’re ordering seeds this year to give it a go.

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55 Heather January 25, 2014 at 11:03 am

Baker seeds sells seed for fodder vegetables. The have mangels, which are a type of beets, a couple types of kale meant for fodder and other things.

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56 Deb January 25, 2014 at 11:03 am

We are expecting our chicks next week. I am making my own chicken feed from bulk organic grains, seeds, legumes and fermenting it. I am also sprouting and starting to grow fodder. This way the chicks will have healthy feed, and by mixing, fermenting, growing my own, it should be cheaper for organic feed. We also started a mealworm farm. They will also received food scraps and can free range when we are out with them.

From what I have read, if you ferment the feed, they consume less because the nutrients are more bio-available with the fermentation process.

I found most of my organic grains, etc. at Azure Standard…where you can buy 25 lbs and 50 lbs bags. I also got some organic grains & seeds from Amazon.

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57 LAC March 25, 2014 at 11:44 am

That is a great idea to make your own feed. How do you make fodder?

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58 LAC March 25, 2014 at 11:43 am

My chickens LOVE our dog food and sneak into the dog area whenever they can! We however feed them scraps and leftovers. I also crush the eggshells and give it to them. I also used peels from fruits and veggies. Seriously there is nothing these chickens won’t eat. We get a good amount of eggs even though we don’t buy feed anymore. It has gotten so expensive! Our chickens are happy on the scraps and dog food (whenever they can sneak it) we also feed them sweet grass that we pull up out in the alley behind our house!

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