Homestead Hack – Cheaper Bird Seed

~By Texas Homesteader~ 

RancherMan & I have a bird feeder in our yard in full view of the large windows from our living room. We both get so much enjoyment from watching them flitter around the feeders so we always make sure our bird feeder is filled.

Back in ‘the day’ when we ran out of bird food we’d simply stroll to 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!  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

Cheaper Birdseed Option

We noticed how close the mixture of seeds in the commercial wild bird seed bags looked to our regular ole chicken scratch.

Although not identical in composition, our hen scratch included cracked corn, wheat, whole milo, etc.

And I grow mammoth sunflowers too. Since RancherMan & I don’t enjoy eating sunflower seeds I also often dry them and mix them into the feed as well.

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 #TexasHomesteaderSo these days instead of buying that expensive commercial wild bird seed we’re opting for that chicken scratch instead.

And the cost comparison? A whopping $8.69 for 20 lb bag of bird seed, but the chicken scratch was only $9.60 for a 50-lb bag at our local feed store.

Do The Wild Birds Really Like It?

But saving money doesn’t help if the birds turn their ‘beaks’ up to it. So we put some out to give ‘er a test run.

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 it?  YES!!

Our feeder is always heavily visited with many different varieties of birds at all times of the day including bright cardinals, spunky sparrows, dove, and many more. They all absolutely love it.

And at less than 1/2 price we can keep them supplied all year long!

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

Give it a try, your birds (and your WALLET) will love you for it!


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23 thoughts on “Homestead Hack – Cheaper Bird Seed

  1. 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~

  2. 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

      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~

  3. 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!

  4. CJ Smith

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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 $$$.

  7. 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~

  8. 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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