Raising chickens – is it trendy or is it smart? As someone who has over two decades of experience with raising chickens, I’m here to tell you it’s not as easy as it seems! Raising chickens can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to provide your family with fresh eggs and meat. However, the initial investment and ongoing expenses can quickly add up.
Did you know that the average yearly cost to keep just six chickens is over $600? But if you’re smart about it, there are plenty of ways to raise chickens on a budget! And of course we’re going to talk about ways to reduce your expenses without sacrificing the health and well-being of your feathered flock.
In this article, I’m going to share my top 12 practical and effective ways to cut costs when raising chickens, from building your own coop to making your own feed. With these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of chicken-keeping without breaking the bank.
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The cost of raising chickens
When deciding to raise chickens, it’s important to consider the cost involved. Recent studies show that the annual average cost of raising chickens is upwards of $600. That’s a lot of money, especially if you’re only raising them for their eggs!
One effective way to save money is to build your own coop. By constructing a coop yourself, you can customize it to meet your specific needs and budget. Plus, you won’t have to pay for the labor and materials involved in purchasing a pre-built coop. Additionally, building your own coop can give you a sense of pride and satisfaction in your work.
Overall, raising chickens can be a rewarding and cost-effective hobby, as long as you are mindful of your expenses. By building your own coop and following the other cost-cutting tips outlined in this article, you can save money while still providing your feathered friends with a happy and healthy life.
Building your own coop vs buying pre-made
When I started researching coop options as we moved to our new house, pre-fabricated coops ranged from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand. Sure it seems convenient, but do you really want to spend that much money on something that’s not built to suit your specific space and needs? The other thing to consider is the durability of a pre-made coop. Many of the ones I saw online had a lot of plastic, and I doubted their ability to withstand Illinois winters.
If you’re going to buy a ready-made chicken coop, it’s better to spend a bit more than to end up with something that only lasts a year or two. Also, don’t underestimate the space you’ll need for your chickens to live comfortably! I noticed that many coops claimed to fit 6 chickens, when in actuality it was built to suit 3. Do your research and read those reviews thoroughly! While I opted to build my own, I did like the look of this coop:
Build your own chicken coop
Building your own coop is one of the best ways to cut costs when raising chickens. While purchasing a pre-made coop may seem more convenient, it can also be much more expensive. Of course, building your own coop requires some basic carpentry skills and tools. However, there are plenty of resources available online to help guide you through the process and provide step-by-step instructions.
One of the advantages of building your own coop is that you can customize it to fit your specific needs. You can choose the size, shape, and materials based on the number of chickens you have and the climate in your area. Additionally, you can incorporate features like nesting boxes, roosting bars, and ventilation systems to ensure your chickens are comfortable and healthy.
By building your own coop, you can also ensure that it is secure and predator-proof. This is especially important if you live in an area with high predator activity, such as coyotes or raccoons. By taking the time to build a sturdy and secure coop, you can protect your chickens and avoid costly losses. Even if you’re buying a pre-made coop, you’re still going to need to put labor into reinforcing the coop, especially when it comes to predators. ALWAYS extend your fencing and bury it so that predators can’t get into your coop. And skip the chicken wire, which is easily bent and pushed through. Instead opt for hardwire mesh to keep your birds safe!
Choose low-maintenance breeds
When choosing the right breed for your backyard flock, it’s important to consider not only the size and egg-laying ability, but also the level of maintenance required. Some breeds are easier to care for than others, which can save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.
One low-maintenance breed to consider is the Plymouth Rock. These were the first chickens I had and I love them! These chickens are hardy and adaptable, making them a good choice for beginners or those who don’t have a lot of time to devote to chicken care.
Another option is the Rhode Island Red, which is known for its docile temperament and excellent egg production.
On the other hand, some breeds require more attention and care. For example, Silkies have a reputation for being difficult to gender and prone to health issues. Bantams, while cute and compact, require a specialized diet and can be more susceptible to predators due to their size.
By choosing low-maintenance breeds, you can save yourself time, money, and stress. And if you also make your own chicken feed, as we’ll discuss in the next section, you can further reduce your costs while ensuring that your flock stays healthy and happy.
How to make your own chicken feed
By being mindful of which chicken breeds to raise, you can make your life as a backyard chicken keeper a lot easier. Low-maintenance breeds are the way to go if you’re looking to minimize costs and effort. They require less feed and care, and are typically more robust.
But if you’re really looking to cut costs while keeping your chickens healthy and happy, making your own chicken feed is the way to go. Not only will you be able to save money by buying ingredients in bulk, but you’ll also have full control over what goes into your chickens’ diet. This means that you’ll be able to avoid the fillers and additives that come with store-bought feed.
There are many recipes available online for homemade chicken feed, but keep in mind that chickens require a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and minerals. You will want to consult a veterinarian or experienced chicken keeper to ensure that your recipe is nutritionally balanced.
To make your own chicken feed, you’ll start with a base, such as corn, wheat, oats, and/or field peas. Oats should not make up more than 10-15% of your chicken’s diet, so I typically go with a base that’s 4:4:3:1 – corn:peas:wheat:oats.
From there you can add in additional nutrients like flaxseed, crushed eggshells, or mineral salts. I also occasionally use diatomaceous earth to help with external parasites (and I have it on hand to naturally keep slugs away from my garden!)
One other thing I love to do is to toss down sunflower seeds and cover with a plastic bowl for a few days. Not only does this provide some extra fresh greens, but the chickens go nuts for the bugs!
Buy feed in bulk
You might be surprised at how much chicken feed you can go through when raising a flock. That’s why buying feed in bulk can be an excellent way to cut your costs. By purchasing larger quantities of feed, you’ll often get a lower price per pound or bag. Check with your local feed store or co-op to see if they offer bulk discounts. Many stores will also offer delivery for larger orders, which can save you time and money. When buying in bulk, make sure to store your feed properly to prevent spoilage or insect infestations. Airtight containers in a cool, dry place will keep your feed fresh for longer. Combining bulk purchases with homemade feed can make for a winning combination when it comes to reducing expenses in your backyard chicken operation.
Grow your own chicken feed
Growing your own chicken feed is not only a cost-saving option, but it can also provide your flock with a healthier and more diverse diet. While this isn’t a foolproof option for those of who are urban gardeners, there’s always ways to make it happen!
Sunflower seeds, corn, and wheat are just a few examples of crops that are easy to grow and can be used in chicken feed. Sunflowers are especially great to grow as you can utilize seed saving techniques and have them every year without spending a cent.
In addition to growing your own grains, you can also consider planting a garden specifically for your chickens. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach, as well as vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, can provide your birds with additional nutrients and help supplement their diet.
By providing your flock with a variety of foods, you can also reduce their dependence on commercial feed and keep your costs low. With a little effort and planning, growing your own chicken feed can be a rewarding and economical choice for your backyard operation. For even more savings, let’s explore how investing in automatic waterers can help reduce your expenses while keeping your chickens hydrated and healthy.
Invest in Automatic Waterers
Water is an essential component of a chicken’s diet. Providing your flock with clean and fresh water is crucial to their health and well-being. However, manually refilling water bowls or troughs can be time-consuming and laborious. This is where automatic waterers come in.
Investing in automatic waterers can help reduce your expenses while keeping your chickens hydrated and healthy. These waterers can be connected to your water supply, ensuring a constant flow of clean water for your flock. They also prevent water wastage and minimize the risk of water contamination.
Automatic waterers come in various sizes and types, including nipple and cup waterers. Nipple waterers are easy to install and use and are recommended for adult birds. Cup waterers, on the other hand, are suitable for chicks and can be used until they reach maturity.
By using automatic waterers, you can save time and money on water bills and reduce the need for frequent manual refilling. With a constant supply of clean water, your chickens can stay hydrated and healthy, which can prevent illnesses and minimize the need for costly veterinary treatments.
Investing in automatic waterers is an excellent way to cut costs when raising chickens. By providing your flock with a constant supply of clean water, you can ensure their health and well-being while reducing your expenses.
Use Chicken Poop as a Fertilizer
If we’re talking about ways to save money when it comes to raising chickens, another great idea is to use what the chickens give you! When it comes to gardening, finding ways to keep your soil healthy is a must! I love to go the DIY worm farming route, but using your chicken poop is another great idea. I don’t recommend using it directly on your plants, but add it to your compost (it breaks down quickly!) It’s high in nitrogen and your tomatoes will love it.
Prevent and treat illness with your chickens
Using natural remedies to prevent and treat illnesses can be a cost-effective way to maintain your flock’s health. For instance, adding garlic to their feed or water can boost their immune system, preventing diseases such as respiratory infections. Similarly, apple cider vinegar can be added to their water for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, preventing illnesses such as sour crop.
If your chickens do seem to be getting sick, there are several natural remedies you can try before resorting to costly veterinary treatments. For example, using herbs such as oregano or thyme in their feed or water can help with respiratory infections and digestive issues. Additionally, probiotics and electrolytes can be added to their water to help with dehydration and overall health.
By using natural remedies, you can save money on expensive medications and veterinary bills while keeping your flock healthy and happy. Plus, reducing the need for medication and frequent vet visits can also improve the quality of your meat and eggs.
Sell eggs or meat to offset costs
I’ll admit – selling my chickens for meat isn’t an option I’d utilize, but it exists nonetheless. Selling the eggs, though, is always an option! Depending on the size of your overall “farm”, you could sell your excess produce, eggs, and meat at local farmers’ markets or by setting up a roadside stand.
The better option – in my case anyway – is to let your friends know on Facebook. Everyone always love farm fresh eggs! This can be a rewarding experience and a great way to build connections with your local community. Just don’t forget to save your egg cartons whenever possible.
Join a chicken-keeping community
Joining a chicken-keeping community is another excellent way to reduce the cost of raising chickens. When you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to have access to experienced members who can offer advice on everything from coop building to feed and nutrition. By connecting with other chicken keepers, you can learn from their mistakes and successes and save money by avoiding costly errors. Plus, you may find that you have extra supplies or equipment that could benefit someone else in the community.
Repurpose household items for chicken care
Repurposing household items for chicken care is an eco-friendly and financially savvy approach to raising chickens. Not only does it cut down on waste, but it also saves you money. Look for items around your house that can be used as feeders, waterers, or even toys for your chickens. For example, an old milk crate can make for a great roosting box, and a plastic kiddie pool can be repurposed as a dust bath.
With some creativity and resourcefulness, you can find all sorts of ways to repurpose household items for your chickens. Not only will it save you money, but it’s also a fun and sustainable way to care for your feathered friends. And when it comes to shopping for chicken supplies, don’t forget to shop around for the best deals. By doing your research and comparing prices, you can ensure that you’re getting the best value for your dollar.
Shop around for the best deals
When it comes to shopping for chicken supplies, it’s easy to just go to your nearest farm supply store and stock up on everything you need. However, you may be missing out on better deals and prices if you don’t take the time to do some research and compare prices.
One way to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your dollar is to shop around online. Don’t forget to use Rakuten to save even more!
Many online retailers offer competitive prices and frequent sales, making it worthwhile to take a look at what they have to offer. Additionally, some retailers offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount, which can save you money in the long run.
Another way to save money on chicken supplies is to check out local classified ads or online marketplaces. Often, people who are no longer raising chickens will sell their supplies at a fraction of the cost of buying new. You may be able to find high-quality supplies at a discounted price this way.
It’s important to note that while you’re shopping around for good deals, you should also make sure to read reviews and check the quality of the products you’re considering purchasing. The last thing you want is to end up with low-quality supplies that will need to be replaced sooner than later.
By taking the time to research and shop around for the best deals, you can save money on chicken supplies without sacrificing quality. And by using repurposed household items, you can also reduce waste and take a more eco-friendly approach to raising chickens. It’s a win-win for both your wallet and the environment.,
Raising chickens can be a rewarding experience, but it doesn’t have to be a costly one. By building your own coop, making your own feed, and investing in automatic waterers, you can significantly reduce your expenses. Natural remedies and selling eggs or meat can also offset costs. Joining a chicken-keeping community and repurposing household items for chicken care are additional ways to save. Remember, every little bit counts. Implement these tips one at a time and see the difference in your wallet and your flock. It’s easier than you might think to keep your chickens healthy and happy without breaking the bank!