8 Easy Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed

Use these free and cheap methods to save money on chicken feed or supplement their store-bought diet, even if you can't free range.

Feeding your chickens can be expensive. Here you'll find more than a dozen easy ways to save money on chicken feed. From free-ranging to bugs and plants, you'll love these suggestions for supplementing or replacing store-bought chicken feed.

How to save money on chicken feed

There is nothing more "country" than chickens free ranging in the barnyard. Not only is it iconic, it's also the cheapest way to feed chickens. They forage for their food in the yard, lawn, garden, pasture, etc.

But free ranging also leaves chickens vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, racoons, hawks and owls, not to mention stray dogs.

We have a large variety of predators in our area - even bobcats and cougars on occasion - so I don't let my chickens free range. When I did, many years ago, they disappeared too often for my liking.

So my chickens are confined to the chicken coop and the large run for their own protection, which means I am responsible for all of their food. Feeding store-bought layer feed gets expensive fast!

Here are eight ways you can save money on chicken feed, and many of them are FREE!

For even more ideas for saving money on chicken feed (and oyster shell, grit and more), check out my digital guide, Feed Your Flock, 21 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed, in my Etsy shop. 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I might earn a small commission, but it doesn't affect the price you pay. Read my disclosure here for more info.

1. Free range

Yes, the cheapest way to feed chickens is to let them free-range. They'll eat up all the fleas, ticks, grasshoppers and other bugs within pecking distance, as well as weeds and grass.

They'll also eat your garden produce, so you should consider fencing them out of the garden.

And as I mentioned above, free ranging leaves your chickens vulnerable to predators. So if you can't let your chickens run free, check out the rest of my suggestions below.

2. Food scraps

Chickens are the perfect "garbage disposal." They'll eat just about anything, but I don't give them coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels or onions. Citrus, unripe (green) potatoes including the skins, and dry beans are also bad for chickens. 

I don't give them left over junk food, either. It isn't good for people, so I don't give it to my chickens either.

I divide our kitchen waste into two containers: one for the compost pile and another for the poultry. Those banana peels and coffee grounds that I won't give the chickens are great additions to the compost pile.

And while meat scraps shouldn't go in the compost pile, the chickens love them. Chickens are omnivores, so meat is a great source of protein for them.

I also give them meaty bones which they pick clean. 

3. Surplus eggs

If we have a dozen eggs that have been in the refrigerator too long, I scramble them up and feed them to the chickens. 

Some chicken keepers say that feeding eggs to chicken will encourage them to eat their own freshly-laid eggs too. I only feed mine cooked eggs, and I haven't had any problems with egg-eating hens.

4. Weeds

Weeding the garden usually results in several buckets full of weeds to dispose of. You have to pull the weeds anyway, so they're free chicken feed.

5. Wild seeds

In the fall, gather seed stalks from wild plants such as curly dock and seed heads from wild sunflowers. Let them dry in a cool, dry place such as the barn or a shed and feed them to your chickens. 

Feeding bugs to hens to save money on chicken feed, from Oak Hill Homestead

6. Mealworms and black soldier flies

Mealworms are easy to raise indoors in a 3-drawer plastic unit. Learn more about raising them here.

Black soldier fly larvae are an excellent source of protein and fat for your chickens. According to GrubTerra, an online supplier of black soldier fly larvae for poultry and reptiles, you can replace 10% of your chickens' feed with the larvae of the black soldier fly.

Mealworms and black soldier flies are a beneficial winter supplement for your chickens when live bugs are scarce.

Find out more about black soldier flies for your chickens here, and check out GrubTerra's product line here if you prefer not to raise insects yourself. (Use code OHH to save 10% on your order!)

7. Bargain produce

I've scored pumpkins at a bargain price in November. I break them open and place the pieces in the coop. My chickens pick them clean, leaving just the very thin outer shell.

6+ ways to save money on chicken feed, from Oak Hill Homestead. #selfreliantchallenge

Sometimes vendors at farmers markets will deeply discount their produce at the end of the day. It doesn't hurt to ask if you're at a farmers market near the end of the day.

8. Garden for your chickens

This is a bit like foraging wild plants or pulling garden weeds for your chickens, but instead the plants are grown intentionally.

Perhaps you only have room to grow just a couple of extra plants for your chickens, or maybe you could devote an entire raised bed or a couple of garden rows to growing produce for your birds.

From tender greens to tomatoes, and corn to melons, chickens love garden goodies.

If you'd like to try gardening for your chickens, check out this poultry garden seed collection from Mary's Heirloom Seeds, or read Lisa Steele's book Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens.

If your chickens are confined to their coop and run like mine are, here's the run-down on what your chickens need inside their coop, such as feeders and waterers. 

Would you like even more ideas for saving money on chicken feed?

You'll find a total of 21 money-saving suggestions in my guide Feed Your Flock, 21 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed in my Etsy shop. Get a 50% discount when you use the code FEEDFLOCK50.

Images of digital eguide, Feed Your Flock, 21 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed

Always offer your chickens a variety of foods for the best nutrition and health.

You'll find all of my articles on raising chicks and chickens as well as my chicken FAQs here.

For more self-sufficient posts like this, subscribe to my weekly-ish newsletter The Acorn, and join me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest. I'd love to see you there!

Save money on chicken feed with these cheap and free methods.


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