15 Ways to Save Money While Raising Backyard Chickens
Raising backyard chickens is one excellent way of saving money on expensive chicken feeds. When your chickens are outdoors free-ranging, they won’t eat a lot of chicken feed because they will have plenty of bugs and plant material to consume.
Furthermore, your chickens will get good nutrition while free-ranging because they will derive abundant protein from insects and loads of vitamins from the many weeds they consume. Raising chickens doesn’t have to be expensive because there are several ways to save money while keeping chickens.
15 Tips to Save Money When Raising Chickens
Raising chickens, free-range or in confinement, comes at a c. For instance, you will have to spend money on feed to supplement what your backyard chickens are not consuming out there. Below are 15 ways to save money when raising chickens.
– Feed Kitchen Scraps
Chickens can eat almost anything provided it isn’t toxic or it doesn’t affect their overall health. One ingenious way to save money on chicken feed is to give your birds kitchen scraps and food leftovers instead of throwing them away. Chicken scraps can be healthy for your chickens, provided they don’t have too much salt and spices.
Some favorite and healthy kitchen scraps for chickens include pork scraps and cooked beef because they are high in protein and iron, which are vital for all chickens, particularly hens. Cooked pasta and rice are also great kitchen scraps for chickens because they have moderate amounts of starch.
Your backyard chickens need starch to provide them with sufficient energy to roam your yard. You can feed your chicken those oyster shells and eggshells instead of disposing them because they can be a rich source of calcium for your chickens.
However, not all chicken scraps are good for chickens. For instance, stale kitchen scraps can make your flock sick. Kitchen scraps with excess fat can make your chickens obese.
– Use Leaves as Coop Bedding
Using leaves as your coop bedding can be an excellent money saver when raising chickens, especially for chicken owners with large coops. Dry leaves are comfortable for chickens and decompose fast, making them a good coop bedding option for those who want to compost chicken manure.
Dry leaves are inexpensive compared to other coop bedding options like hay, straw, sawdust, and wood shavings. These four coop bedding options can be expensive in the long run and challenging to find. Using dry leaves will also give your birds something to scratch to keep them busy.
– Feed Grass Clippings and Weeds
Feeding grass clippings to your chickens can help you save around 20% of the chicken feed you provide to your birds daily. Fresh weeds and grass clippings contain high amounts of vitamin C, iron, protein, and iron. Fresh weeds and grass clippings also contain bugs, which are suitable for your flock because they have plenty of protein.
Giving grass clippings and weeds to your flock can help provide the birds with all the great nutrients they need to be healthy and happy. It is also an innovative way to clear weeds and grass clippings from your yard. However, be careful not to feed poisonous weeds to your chickens because they will die.
Furthermore, avoid feeding the birds with grass clippings after spraying your yard because such grass clippings can kill your flock. Some of the chickens’ favorite weeds include bee balms, oxalis, clovers, and dandelions.
– Cultivate Mealworms
Chickens love mealworms; you can tell from how your birds will gobble them up when you toss a handful of mealworms in their cage. Mealworms can be a protein-rich treat for your chickens, especially when you want to boost their protein intake. Mealworms are also ideal for chickens during molting because they help chickens regrow their feathers in no time.
Cultivating mealworms can be more economical than purchasing them from a poultry store. Cultivating mealworms for your flock isn’t difficult since you only need a couple of supplies to cultivate the mealworms.
First, gather all the necessary supplies to cultivate mealworms for your chickens. Some of these supplies include dry cornmeal or oatmeal. Carrots are also vital while cultivating mealworms because they are a natural source of moisture that doesn’t grow mold quickly. Secondly, get at least three containers and drill holes in their tops.
Put at least a one-inch thick layer of cornmeal or oatmeal in each container. This layer will work as food and bedding for the mealworms. You can add other food sources to enhance the fast growth of mealworms.
Wait for a couple of days for the mealworms to grow. Put the mealworms in a separate container. Toss some mealworms to your chickens; they will excitedly gobble them up.
– Buy Chicken Feed in Bulk
Even if you are raising backyard chickens, there are times when your chickens will remain in the coop all day, especially during winter when there is snow all over. That means your flock won’t have the luxury to forage for greens and bugs out there.
So you will have to purchase chicken feed when your birds are indoors. Buying feed in bulk will help you save money on chicken feed in the long run. Chicken feed sellers usually give discounts to buyers who purchase chicken feeds in bulk. Buying feed in bulk is also helpful because you will need to purchase chicken feed fewer times yearly.
When you buy and store chicken feed in bulk, you won’t worry about purchasing feed more often because you will always have some at your disposal for your flock. Buying chicken feed in bulk is far more economical than purchasing feed daily. Moreover, you will have enough feed for your flock, so your birds will only starve when they can forage outside.
– Grow Greens in Your Garden
Chickens love greens, and greens can help substitute chicken feed. Greens have many nutrients your flock needs to be healthy and happy. Purchasing greens for your flock at the store can be costly in the long run. Again, some greens are seasonal, and you will only sometimes find them in the stores.
Most importantly, you don’t need much garden space to grow greens for your birds. Fortunately, you can save on the money you spend purchasing greens for your flock by growing greens in your gardens. The advantage of growing greens in your garden over purchasing them in stores is that you will always have some greens for the flock.
Furthermore, you can grow a wide variety of greens in your garden. Some of the favorite greens for chickens you can grow in your garden include kale, chard, lettuce, and turnip greens. You can also produce various vegetables for your flock to supplement chicken feed.
For instance, you can grow vegetables such as broccoli, cucumbers, and pumpkins. These vegetables are rich in minerals and nutrients, especially vitamins.
– Grow Corn in Your Garden
Corn is an excellent source of dietary energy for chickens. Feeding corn to your chickens can significantly reduce your flock’s feed intake because chickens won’t eat much feed after eating corn. However, purchasing corn from stores can be expensive over time. That’s why you should grow enough corn for your chickens in your garden.
Chicken farmers with extensive gardens can produce plenty of corn for their birds. The advantage of growing corn in your garden is that you will have a steady supply of corn for the birds.
– Ferment Chicken Feed
Fermenting your chicken feed can also help save on the money you use purchasing nutrient-rich foods for your chickens. Fermenting chicken feed will make the nutrients in the chicken feed more available for your flock.
Fermented chicken feed also has excellent nutritional value because it has beneficial bacteria which can benefit your chickens’ guts.
– Build a Chicken Coop Yourself
The cost of building a chicken coop also increases the overall cost of rearing chickens. You can save on such expenses by building the chicken coop, other than hiring someone else to do it for you.
Decide how you would like your chicken coop to look, and then get all the materials you need to set up a good coop for your chickens. You also must consider the number of chickens you intend to keep in the cage.
Here is how you can build a chicken coop yourself to avoid the high cost of raising chickens.
- Choose a suitable location for the chicken coop.
- Determine the size of the coop depending on the chickens you want to keep
- Gather all the materials
- Set up the coop
- Install some safety features, such as secure chicken wire after setting up the coop
- Choose the best bedding option for your chickens
- Install enough nesting boxes for the hens
- Install enough roosting bars in the coop for your chickens to rest and sleep
- Have some openings to ensure proper coop ventilation
– Recycle the Eggs Shells
Refrain from disposing of your eggshell waste, especially if you have many egg-laying hens. Those eggshell wastes can help you save on the money you could spend buying calcium supplements for your chickens.
Crushed egg shells can be suitable for layers because they provide the calcium your hens need to produce high-quality, awesomely-tasting eggs.
– Setup a Small Greenhouse for Winter
Winter is difficult for chickens because it affects their activity and egg production capabilities. Setting up a small greenhouse to shelter your chickens in winter can help you save money while raising chickens. A warm greenhouse means your flock will only spend little energy to keep warm throughout the winter.
You will spend less money purchasing foods that warm the flock during winter. You will also not need to speed money keeping your birds warm if they live in a greenhouse.
– Let Chickens Free-range
Allowing your flock to free-range can help you save money you would otherwise spend raising your chickens. Free-ranging chickens is a great idea, especially for chicken keepers who want to save money on raising their birds.
The advantage of keeping free-range chickens is that you won’t have to dig into your pockets to provide food for your birds. Your free-range chickens will eat plenty of stuff out there, and there will be no need to give them extra feed, especially during summer and other months when chickens are free to forage outdoors.
– Let Broody Hen Hatch the Eggs
Broody hens don’t eat plenty of food, unlike other hens. Neither do they drink a lot of water. However, some inexperienced chicken keepers try providing feed to their broody hens.
Broody hens won’t eat like other chickens because they concentrate on hatching eggs. It is prudent to allow your broody hens to hatch without introducing feed that they will otherwise waste.
– Compost Chicken Manure
You need manure to grow greens and vegetables your chickens need to consume for optimal health. Composting chicken manure can help you save on the money you would spend purchasing expensive fertilizers to grow greens and vegetables for your chickens.
Composting chicken manure is straightforward. It would help if you collected the chicken droppings in the coop and the worn-out chicken bedding. Put the droppings in a compost heap and keep turning them for a couple of weeks until it turns dark brown. You can use chicken manure to grow vegetables and greens for your birds.
– Browse Forums for Used Equipment
It would be best if you had some vital poultry equipment while raising chickens, especially on a large scale. Some of the equipment you need include incubators, feeders, heaters, and egg-handling facilities if you are raising chickens strictly for eggs. You can save on buying various chicken equipment by buying used equipment.
You can browse several sites that sell or redirect you to sites that sell used chicken equipment. For instance, browse online forums such as Facebook, Craigslist, and Instagram for used chicken equipment.
These forums provide photos of various chicken equipment and their ratings, so you will get some quality used equipment that will help you save on the overall cost of raising chickens.
Most people think that keeping chickens is an expensive venture. That‘s not the truth because you can implement many ways to reduce your cost of rearing chickens, whether you are a small-scale or large-scale chicken keeper. Overall, keeping chickens can be rewarding if you know how to lower the cost of raising chickens.