Feed Wild Birds Cheaper Using Plain Chicken Scratch

by Texas Homesteader ~  

We love feeding the beautiful wild birds. So we used to buy the large expensive bags of bird seed at the big-box store. But those wild birds can really go through a lot of feed!

We discovered there’s an oh-so-much-cheaper way to fill the feeder, y’all. Check out today’s Homestead Hack. 

HOMESTEAD HACK: CHEAPER BIRD SEED! I'm here to tell you there IS an easier (and oh-so-much CHEAPER) way! Check out today's Homestead Hack. #TexasHomesteader

Feeding Wild Birds Is An Enjoyable Pastime

We love to watch all manner of birds in our yard. We have a pretty hummingbird feeder and we make our own hummingbird feed to keep it filled. 

And we also have a rustic wooden bird feeder on a decorative black metal shepherd’s hook in our yard. It’s purposely placed in full view of the large windows from our living room.

We both get so much enjoyment from watching the birds flitter around the feeders. So we always make sure our bird feeder is filled. We want to attract as many birds as possible to our yard.

HOMESTEAD HACK: CHEAPER BIRD SEED! There IS an easier (and oh-so-much CHEAPER) way to fill the feeder! Check out today's Homestead Hack #TexasHomesteader

Filling Wild Bird Feeder Can Be Expensive

Back in ‘the day’ when we ran out of bird food we’d simply shop at the big discount store & pick up the largest bag of bird food we could buy, plunk down the expensive dough required and schlep it home time & time again.

But that was then, this is now. And I’m here to tell ya there IS an easier (and oh-so-much CHEAPER) way!  

Looking For A Cheaper Wild Bird Seed Option

When walking through the stores we saw that there were different combinations of seeds sold, supposedly to attract different kinds of birds.

Classic Bird Seed

Black Oil Sunflower Seed Included

Songbird Blend

We usually bought the regular blend to attract the most varieties of birds. It seemed the least expensive of all the specialty blends and always resulted in a nice mixture of colorful birds at our bird feeders.

But we noticed how close the mixture of seeds in the commercial wild bird seed mixes we were buying compared to our regular ole chicken scratch.

Although not identical in composition, our hen scratch included cracked corn, wheat, whole milo, etc. Much of the same seed also included in wild bird seed bags.

We fill our wild bird feeder with chicken scratch for less than HALF the price of wild bird seed. The birds love it! #TexasHomesteader

How Expensive Is Bird Seed?

As much as I love feeding the birds, it was getting expensive. At the time of this writing it was close to $10 for a small 10-pound bag of bird seed.

But the chicken scratch was only about $11 for a whopping 40-lb bag at our local feed store. Now that’s quite a savings, y’all!

Will Wild Birds Really Eat Chicken Scratch?

But you know, saving money doesn’t help at all if the birds turn their ‘beaks’ up to it – so to speak. HA!

So we filled our bird feeder with some plain ole chicken scratch to give ‘er a test run. We hung it on the shepherd’s hook and waited.

HOMESTEAD HACK: CHEAPER BIRD SEED! There IS an easier (and oh-so-much CHEAPER) way to fill the feeder! Check out today's Homestead Hack #TexasHomesteader

The verdict? Will the birds eat chicken scratch? YES!! The birds all flocked to the feeder at all hours of the day.

Many Varieties Of Wild Birds In Our Backyard

Our feeder is always heavily visited by many different varieties of birds at all times of the day. Birds including

Bright red cardinals

Spunky sparrows,

Mourning dove,


…and many more. They all absolutely love it.

So these days instead of buying that expensive bag of commercial wild bird seed, we’re opting for that cheap bag of plain chicken scratch instead.

And at less than 1/2 price of a bag of traditional bird seed we can keep them supplied much longer!

Where To Buy Chicken Scratch?

We’ve found the nearest Farmer’s Co-Op is the cheapest place to buy chicken scratch. But any actual feed store would be a good bet.

And here in Texas there are chain farm & ranch stores such as Atwoods, Gebo’s & McCoy’s where we can buy bags of chicken scratch. We’ve even seen chicken scratch for sale at the larger WalMart stores in nearby towns.

But even in the city there are usually farm & ranch stores. Most states in the U.S. have a Tractor Supply store, and there may be others farm & ranch stores local to your region.

Feeding wild birds plain chicken scratch is one of my favorite and most enjoyable Homestead Hacks ever. Give it a try, your birds (and your WALLET) will love you for it!


This post categorized in    All our native Texas plant and wildlife posts. #TexasHomesteader   

Tagged in           Complete list of our handy Homestead Hacks. #TexasHomesteader   

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27 thoughts on “Feed Wild Birds Cheaper Using Plain Chicken Scratch

  1. Kay

    Great idea! I love my birds, but it’s getting so busy at our feeders that the cost is a consideration, for sure. Lots of feed stores where I live, so that’s where I’ll go.
    Love your feeding station!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Awww, thanks Kay. We love to attract as many kinds of birds to our yard as we can, they’re so much fun to watch! This trick lets us do that with less money. Score! ~TxH~

  2. Aziz

    I love feeding birds
    I always buy birds seeds from Tractor supply lil expensive but they got a quality seeds no waste
    Many times I try to buy scratch grain from
    but it’s not written on bag what’s in it

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      My scratch grain bag has the ingredients listed. The types of birds that visit my yard always make very good use of it all and there’s little waste. It works well for us and saves a lot of money over buying specific ‘song bird’ type mixes. ~TxH~

  3. Katy SkipTheBag

    This is good to know! Hubby got me a bird feeder for Christmas this year and it is filled with expensive bird seed waiting for it’s first customer. I will look into this once the birds find and start eating it and I need a refill. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Hop!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL – its first customer… When you get ready to buy the seed, check Tractor Supply or Atwoods (if you have those in your area) and the bags will be very inexpensive. If you want it even cheaper, look up the closest feed store or co/op. I’ve recently seen 50-lb bags of scratch advertised at a local feed store for $6! ~TxH~

  4. Teresa

    Thanks for the tip! I love my bird feeder, but the cost to keep it filled for all of the voracious little bird appetites is surprising, and ours often ends up empty. I will enjoy giving this a try.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I know Teresa, RIGHT??!! A feed & grain mill near us just advertised a 50-lb bag of chicken scratch for about $6.50. Wowsers! ~TxH~

  5. Mother of 3

    Good to know; those birds sure do eat a lot and we’re always buying seed. I never thought to check our local feed store.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh yes, we used to just plunk down the dollars at the big-box store to buy the bag with the picture of all the pretty birds on it… until we got chickens and started noticing the similarities in content and the differences in cost! ~TxH~

  6. Erlene

    This is a great tip. We had a small bird feeder in the yard (needs to be replaced) and now I know a great way to save on seeds!

  7. Tracy @ Our Simple Homestead

    Wow! What a great tip. I was going to pick up bird feed when I got chicken feed tomorrow, but now I think I will just get an extra bad of scratch.
    Thanks for sharing on the Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop! our-simple-homestead-blog-hop-33/

  8. Cheryl @ Pasture Deficit Disorder

    Now I’m excited that I’m going to the feed store this weekend! We fill our feeder year-round, but we really try to keep them stocked in the winter. And boy do they hit the feeder when there’s weather coming! Thanks for the great idea.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      YEAH they do, Cheryl! This is what we feed them year round and they all love it ~TxH~

  9. CJ Smith

    Yes, my chickens love to congregate under my bird feeders to snap up what falls to the ground.
    Thanks for this reminder!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL – Ours do too when they’re freeranging CJ. I refer to it as “vacuuming up the fallen seed”. 🙂 ~TxH~

  10. JMD

    Does chicken scratch sprout if it isn’t eaten? We purchase bird seed that won’t sprout since our HOA has rules about weeds, etc.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Seed is typically a plant’s efforts to reproduce, so it will sprout unless steps are made to keep it from sprouting. Perhaps a special variety? Perhaps heating the seed until it’s dead? I have no idea, I’ve never heard of bird seed that doesn’t sprout. Can anyone offer suggestions to JMD?

      1. JMD

        Thanks, no we have tried the bake it slowly in the oven (the sprouting type) but in the spring we purchase 60 lbs of bird seed and it is just too time consuming and expensive (electricity) to handle that amount of bird seed. We will continue purchasing our non sprouting type. And yes, it has been treated.

  11. Laura - CaledonAcres

    This happened to me a couple of years ago!! I posted online asking people if they know of a “magical place” where I could pick up some bird feed and not break the bank… one of my friends bluntly commented “but don’t you have chickens? they are birds too. What do you feed them?” THAT WAS IT!!! Eureka 🙂 Thanks for sharing! It is definitely a great trick to save $$$.

  12. ColleenB.~Texas

    Thanks for the heads up on this. Never knew that the chicken and bird seed where so close when it comes to the ingredients but then we don’t raise chickens. Will have to go to Tractor Supply and check out price of their chicken feed. You mentioned ‘chicken scratch.’ Is that the actual name I need to look for?
    By the way, love your shepherds hook and them cute heart bells.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good morning Colleen. Chicken scratch is just a type of food but that’s the kind you’ll look for. Compare the price (be sure to take into consideration the package size as well) and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. In most of the smaller towns there are often feed stores that sell animal feed – those places will by far be the least expensive, followed by places such as Tractor Supply & Atwoods. So you might do a quick google search before you head out to see if there are feed stores close to you that you never knew of. ~TxH~

  13. Ilene

    Well, now, WHY didn’t I notice THAT?? How could I have missed it when I had such a big problem with birds in the chicken house, EATING THE CHICKEN FEED??? Sheesh. So, thanks for this post. I do love to feed the birds. Now that we don’t have chickens anymore, they are the bug larvae eaters in the garden beds. For that reason, I don’t provide feed for them unless there’s snow on the ground. Sometimes it helps to till the soil in the garden beds. It always brings an increase in the amount of birds hopping around out there. Of course, wherever birds are around, they’re adding a little natural fertilizer as well, and also they are “planting seeds” that they have found other places. In the spring, I stay alert for emerging plants. They especially love basil seed so I always find new basil plants of one kind or another in unusual places. They planted Sweet Annie one year and now I grow it every year, as I love the smell.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      How lucky you are that they planted some surprises for you Ilene! The birds perching on the shepherds hook off my back porch planted a beauty berry plant for me and although I absolutely love it, I’m afraid it’s destined to get bigger than that space will allow and I might have to try to move it. Hopefully it’s a sturdy enough plant that it won’t go into shock because I love it. ~TxH~


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