A lot of people tout raising chickens as an economical way to provide eggs and meat for your family. While this is true and the benefits of raising chickens do outweigh the expenses, the misconception seems to be that chickens require virtually no investment and will produce unfailingly, which is simply not the case. Chickens need proper feed and health care as well as safe, sturdy housing, all of which costs money. For people who are new to the chicken world, such needs sometimes come as a surprise. As nice as it would be to get into chickens with little to no starter costs, the reality is that chickens, like everything else, cost money. While you are going to have to crack open your wallet to pay for chicken related expenses, the good news is you can minimize them. Here's how:
1. Save scraps from the kitchen and give them to your chickens. This helps keep kitchen waste at bay and also gives your chickens an exciting treat. Do be careful not to feed scraps to excess as this can result in obesity, which is a danger to chickens. Also do not feed anything that is potentially harmful, such as spoiled food items, dairy, citrus, white potatoes, etc.
2. Free ranging is a great way to supplement feed. Chickens that are able to free range will scour the land for bugs, weeds, grasses, etc. that will take up space in their stomachs that feed otherwise might have. The less feed your chickens need, the less money you will be spending on it.
3. Instead of buying commercial oyster shells for a source of calcium, keep egg shells and feed them back to chickens. Simply dry out eggs, crush them into small pieces, and place them in a separate bowl beside your feeder so chickens can consume them at will to fill their calcium needs.
4. If you have a large flock and little kitchen waste, talk to your local grocer about taking some ripe vegetables off their hands. Grocery stores throw away a lot of produce that is ripe but not spoiled and you might be able to take some of it home to your flock.
5. Don't forget that chickens are omnivores, which means pretty much everything is on the menu. That means they will gladly consume extra meat fat or even small rodents. If you trap a mouse, hand it over to the flock for an exciting snack, but do not feed them mice that have had access to poisons.
When it comes to keeping chickens on a budget, every penny saved counts. With so many people raising chickens for the financial benefits, it only makes sense to consider even more ways to save money while doing so. Are there any measures you take to save money on your chicken operation that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments!