Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Todd asks: I’ve been following your occasional articles about raising chickens and ducks for self-sustaining/renewable food. I have a small flock of chickens myself – six birds – and the cost to feed them is getting high. A 50 pound bag of pellets is around $20. They eat through that in about two weeks, which means I’m paying – roughly – $10/week for eggs, which is still cheaper than the $6/dozen store-bought “organic” eggs since I get easily 2-3 dozen a week. But I’m worried about the cost of the feed, per your article about the cost of everything going up.
My reply: Well, I am as well. The rising cost of everything is worrying. I pay less for the pellets I get because I am able to get them directly, at the local mill. This reduces the cost significantly, to just over $13/bag. Still, your point is taken.
So what do I do?
I am fortunate in that I have acreage to allow my girls to forage – for free – during the warm months and this greatly reduces my feed costs. But come the fall – and the winter – it becomes necessary again to provide them with food since the stuff that grows no longer does and the bugs are all gone for the duration.
Luckily – for us both – chickens are omnivores and will eat practically anything. So that’s what IU give them, including scraps from my table as well as scraps from the tables of people I know – who I give free eggs in exchange for the free food. My girls produce many more eggs than I can use, so this works well.
Having a year-round garden also helps, a lot.
I think the best course, if you are keeping the birds mainly for your own needs, is to keep only as many as you need to meet your needs, which is probably 3-4 birds – who ought to give you at least 2 dozen eggs per week, or almost 4 per day – which should be plenty for a single individual’s daily protein needs.
That number of birds can be fed on a 50 pound bag for a month. Buy four or five bags in advance – as a hedge – and you should be ok.
. . .
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