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.
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.
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
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.
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 lb 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.
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
…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!
This 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!
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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
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~
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!
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~
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.
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~
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.
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~
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!
I read your post at the right time as we are almost out of bird seed. I will be getting chicken scratch soon!
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/
Two proverbial birds, one stone. 😉 ~TxH~
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.
YEAH they do, Cheryl! This is what we feed them year round and they all love it ~TxH~
Yes, my chickens love to congregate under my bird feeders to snap up what falls to the ground.
Thanks for this reminder!
LOL – Ours do too when they’re freeranging CJ. I refer to it as “vacuuming up the fallen seed”. 🙂 ~TxH~
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.
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?
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.
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 $$$.
LOL – sometimes the answer is right under our noses, eh Laura?? ~TxH~
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.
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~
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.
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~