Friday, August 18, 2017

How I saved $450 on chicken feed last year

A few years back I wrote a post about my farm expenses for the year. In those expenses I had spent a whopping $1140 for feed! That is a lot of money for chicken feed! Of course you can't have chickens without feeding them so it is a necessary expense.

I love to save money and I knew I could do better so I set out to save at least half of my feed bill. Unfortunately, I failed. I only managed to save about $450. However I did learn a lot in the last 2 years and by using these methods, I'm on track to save over half of my feed bill for this year! 

save money on chicken feed

I implemented 3 different changes for feeding my flock and they have helped me buy 24 less bags of feed per year. That is over a half a ton of feed! Granted, most people don't feed 80 chickens and guineas like I do, but my methods can help you save money no matter what size flock you have.

The end of free choice feeding

I used to fill the feeders daily in the beliefs that the chickens would only eat what they needed and would fill up on bugs and grasses while free ranging. I couldn't have been more wrong! They were constantly eating. Plus there was always feed scattered across the coop floor and even though it eventually disappeared, I was never quite sure if they ate it off the floor or it just got mixed into the coop bedding?

I switched to feeding once a day, in the middle of the day. No more full feeders overnight and no more breakfast fill up the moment they woke up. I realized that they were eating from the feeders in the morning before free ranging. They were also coming back to the coop at night with visibly full crops and heading straight to the feeders! By feeding once in the middle of the day, they were already free ranging for a few hours so they weren't wolfing down food. In fact, the only chickens that ate from the feeders were broody's and those at the bottom of the pecking order. Instead, the rest of the flock ate bugs and weeds and still had full crops at bed time.

Growing and feeding fodder

I start growing fodder as soon as the first frost hit and continued through till the first blades of grass started emerging. A bag of winter wheat seed is about $12 and one bag lasts all winter. By growing my own fodder I was able to provide the chickens with greens all winter long. Since they prefer to not go out in the snow, I just bring the fodder to them and put it in their run. Click here for my cheap fodder system.

Fermenting feed

This past winter was my first winter fermenting feed and it really helped to cut my feed costs. I found that the chickens seem to eat about half as much fermented feed then they do dry feed. It also has a higher nutrient absorption rate then regular feed. Plus it's full of probiotics to keep my flock healthy. Fermenting feed is easy and only requires feed, a bucket or jar and some water. Click here to see how I ferment feed.

Buy on sale and stock up

I took a hint from the crazy coupon ladies and started stocking up on feed when it was on sale. My brand of layer feed is normally $13.99 but often goes on sale. The best price I've seen it for is $9.99. Many stores have seasonal coupons and bulk discounts too. I started buying several months worth of feed whenever it went on sale. $9.99 became my stock up price and every time I saw that price, I bought more feed whether I needed it or not! If I had a coupon at the time, the price was even better. 

Many of the national feed companies offer coupons (like Purina, through their website and emails) Use a coupon with a sale for the cheapest price possible. I had to clear a space in my garage to store the feed but the savings made it worth it. I stacked it on pallets and made sure to rotate the bags. I marked the date on each bag when I bought them and always use them in order. 


By using the first 3 methods I went from 76 bags of feed a year to 52 bags of feed a year. By only buying on sale and using coupons I went from variable pricing between $9.99 & $13.99 a bag, to an almost constant $9.99 a bag, often applying a coupon also. 

Here's how the math goes:
Amount I spent on feed as per the post I mentioned: $1140.36 
Minus the amount spent of chick feed that year: $137.91
Minus the amount spent on scratch that year: $20
Total spent on layer feed = $982.45 

That amount was 76 bags of layer feed with an average cost of $12.93 per bag.

Amount I spent on layer feed in 2016: $530.23
I purchased 52 bags of feed at an average of $10.19 a bag. (I ran out of feed once or twice before I got the hang of stocking up and had to buy a few bags to get through till the next sale) I'm hoping to get my per bag price down even lower by the end of this year!

By cutting feed use and cost I managed to save $452.22 in 1 year!

Now I'm sure that not everybody goes through almost 80 bags of feed a year. However, everybody can save money on chicken feed by using these methods. How do you save money on feed?

~L

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know I have tried all kinds of different thinsg to save money on chicken feed. If you're new, here's a link to all the posts I've written on free and cheap feed over the years. Enjoy!

Want my free download "25 ways to save money raising chickens"? Sign up right here!

                       

6 comments:

  1. Thanks! This was great info! We keep 30 hens, but periodically add and subtract 50 meat chickens. Feed is a big issue for us, and we need all the help we can get!

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    1. That's a lot of mouths to feed. I hope the post helps!

      ~L

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  2. This is a great idea.... This past winter was my first winter fermenting feed and it really helped to cut my feed costs.... I will definitely be trying this.

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    1. I was really shocked at how much fermenting helped with feed cost. I'm sorry I waited so long to try it!

      ~L

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  3. Feeding once per day and make them work for their food (hopefully the garden pests) - what a great idea! How much (weight?) do you allow per chicken? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I don't have them on a specific weight allowance, but we only go through about a bag of feed a week for the whole flock. I supplement with lots of free feed options though like weeds and kitchen leftovers!

      ~L

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