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I love keeping our egg-laying hens, feeding chickens however can add up in cost
Chickens are one of the homestead ‘gateway drugs’ that make you crave a more wholesome and simple life. We personally keep our chickens for eggs (see my review of the best egg laying breeds) and have 15 hens that we feed. During the snow free months we we free-range our hens on a 3 pasture rotation around our garden. This helps to reduce feeding costs a lot and our chickens offer bug and weed control, healthier eggs and happier chickens.
No matter where you live, you can make your own homemade chicken food to offer your chickens better nutrition.
This post will show you how to reduce feeding costs + make or grow your own chicken feed
Here are a few ways to reduce your chicken feeding costs:
Raise your feeder
With a raised feeder the chickens can’t swish their beaks and heads and make a huge mess. Our hens were so bored with out long winters they were making an extra large mess. As soon as raised the feeder the amount of bags of feed we saved was amazing.
Free-Range if you can
We can’t all live in nice open areas, but if you can create a larger chicken roaming area for them that reduces the feeding costs as they scratch up for bugs and nibble on plants. They’ll even eat things like snakes!
Grow a chicken garden
Growing plants with your chickens in mind is a great way to reduce the amount of grain you have to buy. There are many plants from your vegetable garden that you can give them. We toss bug infested kale, radish tops, left over cabbage leaves, squash that didn’t ripen in time. You can grow grain if you feel ambitious, or just give them fresh veggies. Our greenhouse is always full of invasive chickweed in the winter months, but the hens welcome it mid-winter when there’s nothing green to eat.
Give them kitchen and garden scraps
There are many kitchen waste items that chickens can eat. Our kids left over oatmeal or bread ends always go to our hens, as do many leafy tops or veggie scraps instead of the compost. If you’re wondering what scraps are safe for chickens to eat 104 Homestead has this list of chicken safe plants. We give our hens more scraps during the winter months because they don’t have any fresh food to eat because there’s no free-ranging available with all the snow. I grow extra greens in our unheated greenhouse and harvest once we have winter thaws. The chickens definitely appreciate the fresh scraps!
Homemade+ DIY chicken feed recipes
Although bags of layer mash, grain or pellets can be easier, making your own homemade chicken feed can be rewarding and offers higher nutrition.
Would you prefer to eat dusty bags of mash or healthy green fodder, fermented grains that fill the tummy and fresh mealworms?
There are a few ways you can have your own chicken food:
- Sprouting grains or seeds
- Growing a patch of grain
- Growing a chicken garden
- Buying bulk and mixing your own feed
- Creating grazing boxes
- Growing mealworms
These awesome homestead bloggers have some homemade chicken feed posts
- Sprouted Barley Fodder from the 104 Homestead
- Fermenting Chicken Food from the 104 Homestead
- 4 Easy Steps to Fermenting Chicken Feed from Timber Creek Farm
- Sprouting grains for poultry fodder from Attainable Sustainable
- DIY grazing boxes to reduce chicken feed costs from Attainable Sustainable
- Homemade chicken feed recipe from the Prairie Homestead
- Organic homemade chicken feed from the Elliot Homestead
- Make your own mealworms from WikiHow
Some basic & important chicken feeding information
- When to switch your poultry feed by the 104 Homestead
- How much food does a chicken need? from Timber Creek Farm
- Chicken feed brands, does it matter? from Timber Creek Farm
- How to feed your backyard chickens on the cheap from Attainable Sustainable
Have you grown your own chicken feed?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.