Cheaper Ways To Raise Chickens! (Making Do With What You Have)

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.

How to save money when raising Laying Hens Chickens. #TexasHomesteader

(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.

Bug control

Scorpion control

Fresh eggs

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

What does it cost to raise your own laying hens chickens #TexasHomesteader

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.

Building a chicken yard to protect against predators. #TexasHomesteader

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:

Chicken feeders,

Water founts,

Layer pellet feed,

Calcium supplement (for strong eggshells),

Grit (to aid their digestion),

High protein chicken treats,

Healthcare items

…and more!

There are ways to use what you already have to provide supplies for your chickens. #TexasHomesteader

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!

This low-waste PVC chicken feeder wastes almost NO feed. #TexasHomesteader

Homemade Chicken Water System. We use a large 30-gallon lidded bucket and *chicken water nipples.

30-gallon black bucket with lid, chicken water nipples on bottom, cattle panel shade with sunflowers. #TexasHomesteader

Crushed Dried Eggshells For Calcium Supplement. Replaces buying *Oyster Shell for that purpose.

Feeding chickens crushed eggshells for calcium for strong shells. #TexasHomesteader

Clean sand/tiny gravel. Replaces *Purchased Grit.

Wood Ash Helps Keep Chickens Mite Free. I add cooled wood ash to their dust bath area for *Mite Control.

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.

Chickens out free ranging for bugs. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Our free-range chickens provide many eggs. #TexasHomesteader

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!

Fresh brown eggs from our own laying hens in a wire basket. #Texas Homesteader

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.

Free-Range yolks are much brighter and orange. #TexasHomesteader

 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. 

What predator is stalking and killing our chickens leaving only feathers? #TexasHomesteader

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!


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Tagged in All our posts about raising backyard chickens. #TexasHomesteader    All our favorite eco-friendly posts about repurposing. #TexasHomesteader      

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