by Texas Homesteader ~
It’s fun to raise your own backyard hens. And those fresh eggs can’t be beat! But if you’re not careful, raising those chickens can cost you a lot. I’m sharing ways to shave the cost of raising your own chickens by using things you probably already have.
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Benefits of Raising Chickens
We love raising our chickens. Our hens help earn their keep in several ways for us.
Fun to watch
Sell excess eggs
But they can be expensive too.
Raising Chickens Can Be Expensive
If you’re thinking of getting your first flock I encourage you to read my post about What It Costs To Raise Chickens.
The reigning joke is that if you raise chickens just for fresh eggs for breakfast, it’s likely to be the most expensive eggs you’ll ever eat!
I suppose that’s true. I mean, you’ve got the cost of the chicken yard to keep them Safer From Predators.
Then the cost of the actual *Chicken Coop to securely lock them in at night to protect from night-time marauders like raccoons.
There are also supplies you’ll need to raise chickens:
Layer pellet feed,
Calcium supplement (for strong eggshells),
Grit (to aid their digestion),
High protein chicken treats,
Whew! I was shocked to find out how expensive it was to get the chicken yard outfitted for chickens.
But after you get your hens properly secured in a protective coop/yard there are many ways to cut costs using things you probably already have.
Below are several ways we’ve been able to reduce the expense of raising our chickens.
Use What You’ve Got For Cheap Chicken Supplies
For some things there’s no need to buy expensive specialty chicken products.
Wide-Bottom Metal Dog Food Bowls. Good for treats, calcium supplement, grit and even small volumes of food & water. The wide bottom keeps chickens from tipping it over.
Low-Waste Chicken Feeder. Homemade from cheap PVC resulting in our chicken’s food waste going to nearly ZERO!
Homemade Chicken Water System. We use a large 30-gallon lidded bucket and *chicken water nipples.
Crushed Dried Eggshells For Calcium Supplement. Replaces buying *Oyster Shell for that purpose.
Clean sand/tiny gravel. Replaces *Purchased Grit.
Note: we burn only wood harvested from our property in our fireplace. We don’t use artificial logs with chemicals or accelerants added. I’m not sure what those products would do to using the ash in this way – use your own judgement.
Don’t Raise More Chickens Than You Need
You’ve heard of chicken math, right? It’s tempting to buy chickens with dreams of a whole chicken yard filled with them.
But then you have to feed all of them. And secure enough protective housing for lots of birds. And what do you do that THAT many eggs?
RancherMan & I usually resist the temptation to purchase too many chickens & stick with only between 3 and 5 hens at a time.
Sell Excess Eggs To Pay For Purchased Feed
Since we raise only 3-5 hens at a time we get all the eggs we want, with a few leftover besides.
So we sell our free-range chicken eggs when we get an excess.
That egg money helps pay for the purchased layer pellets we offer to our hens, basically making our eggs free.
Get Egg Buyers To Save Used Egg Cartons To Refill
If you sell excess eggs, get your regular buyers to return their egg cartons to refill.
Or have them bring their own containers for you to transfer a dozen eggs into. Lower cost and eco friendly too!
Saving Money On Chicken Feed
I’ve found many ways to get Free Food For Our Chickens.
- Garden Excess
- Food Scraps (such as watermelon or cantaloupe rind, etc.)
- Pulling grass with seeds & offering to chickens, etc.
- Free-ranging so chickens get plenty of protein-rich bugs, etc.
Note: From what I understand, onions/garlic and grape seeds aren’t good for chickens.
Free Ranging Chickens Saves Food Cost
We allow our chickens to free range for much of the day. I let them out in early afternoon so that they get more space to roam and lots of bugs to eat.
Chickens stay healthier eating bugs to provide them with a balanced diet, protein and those gorgeous orange-colored yolks.
It also keeps those bugs away from my garden. Plus that extra space to roam keeps them from being crowded & bored in their chicken yard.
And by letting them out mid-day they’ve usually already provided the eggs for the day so I don’t have to go searching.
Isn’t Free Ranging Chickens Dangerous?
Well… Yes and no.
Thankfully we don’t experience roaming dogs out here. Roaming dogs can be a huge problem.
Hawks can be a problem too, but since they strike from the air they’d be a problem whether the hens are in their open-top chicken yard or outside the chicken yard.
We’ve only experienced two hawk attacks since we’ve been raising chickens, and only one hawk was successful.
Chicken Predators – What about Coyotes?
Oh yeah, we have plenty of coyotes. But we haven’t had much trouble with coyotes attacking our free-ranging chickens in several years due to two changes:
* Moving the chicken yard closer to our home. The coyotes aren’t typically comfortable that close to human activity.
* Waiting until mid afternoon to release the chickens to free range. Less time out means they stay pretty close to the house.
So if you decide to allow your chickens to free range, choose a method that works best in your circumstances and with your chicken predator pressures.
This certainly works well for us, allows the hens room to roam and a healthier diet that we didn’t have to pay for.
Why We Won’t Raise Chickens In Winter Months
Chickens naturally slow or stop laying eggs in the short days of winter. I hate to keep, care for and feed chickens that aren’t giving me any eggs.
Plus as my dad always says of chicken predators: “Everything likes a chicken dinner!”
Especially during the cold winter months when food is more scarce.
So we buy our hens in early spring and sell them in the fall. Someone else who may have more fortified chicken lodging gets to take advantage of quality egg layers & we get the season off from raising chickens.
In the spring we’ll buy more and start again. Works perfectly for us.
What Are Your Cost-Saving Chicken Raising Tips?
Do you have ways you’ve cut costs on raising your backyard chickens? We’d all love to hear additional ideas!
- How To Teach Free-Range Chickens To Come HOME
- Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators: Automatic Coop Door
- How Much Does It Cost To Raise Your Own Chickens?
- Breaking The Broody Hen
- What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?
- MYO Low-Waste Chicken Feeder
- Repurposed Coffee Can Chicken Feeder
- Keeping Wild Birds Away From Your Chicken Feeder
- Nutritional Difference Of Free-Range Eggs
- How To Protect Seedlings From Free-Range Hens
- Keeping Our Chickens Mite Free
- How To Get Free Chicken Food
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