How I saved $450 on chicken feed last year (you can too!)

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 chicken 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. That is a lot of money to spend on chicken feed though, don't you agree?

Cut your chicken feed bill in half!

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!

Saving 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 on chicken feed 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!

My chickens 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 for chicken feed as soon as the first frost hits and continue through till the first blades of grass started emerging. A 50lb bag of winter wheat seed is about $12 and one bag lasts all winter. Buy it at a farm store for the best price. I use about a cup of seed per pan of fodder and  in just 5 days, it grows to several pounds of green wheat grass. The chickens absolutely love it!

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. Of course I came up with a low cost way to grow all that fodder! Click here for my cheap fodder system.

Fodder growing in bin

Fermenting feed

This past winter was my first winter fermenting feed for my chickens 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. 

Which is ok since fermented feed has a higher nutrient absorption rate then regular feed. Chickens don't need as much fermented feed to get the same (or better) nutritional benefits. 

Plus, fermented feed is full of probiotics to keep my flock healthy. Nutrition is something I worry about more in winter since there are no bugs and seeds for the chickens to find while free ranging. I like being able to add high nutrition items to their feed selections.

Fermenting feed is easy and cheap. It only requires feed, a bucket or jar and some water. It takes a few days, but once you get started you can have fermented feed available to your flock several times a week. Click this link 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. I just kept an eye on chicken feed prices and whenever it hit my 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) or loyalty program discounts. 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 the bags of feed on pallets and made sure to rotate the bags as I used them. I marked the date on each bag when I bought them and always use them in order.

Related reading: How to catch and feed June bugs to your chickens using a bucket of water.

Truck bed full of chicken feed.

Reduce feed consumption and price

By changing the way their feed is available, growing fodder and fermenting feed 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 in one year 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 frugal methods. How do you save money on feed?

Need to know more about feeding chickens cheaply or even for free? Click here for all 14 posts on on free and cheap chicken feed!


If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know I have tried all kinds of different things 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 plus a round up of Almost 200 free and cheap feed sources from all over the web!

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


  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!

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


  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.

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


  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

    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!


  4. That's a great idea! Definitely ask around for the best because all mills are not the same. Tanks!