15 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed

how to save money on chicken feed

It’s a heartbreaking moment…

When you first realize your homegrown eggs are costing you more than what you’d pay for eggs at the store…

The current state of mass food production has duped us into believing things like milk, eggs, and grains cost much less than they actually do or should.

For example: Even though we have our own milk cow, our milk technically costs me MORE than it would to simply buy a gallon at the grocery store.

The good news? Saving money isn’t the primary reason we’ve chosen to own a cow. For us, it’s really about the quality of the product; our milk is fresh, beyond organic, and wonderfully raw. Not to mention owning a cow just plain makes me happy, so it’s a quality of life thing for us as well.

Chickens and eggs fall into the same category. While it depends on feed prices in your area, I’m still going to venture to say if you are looking for “frugal” eggs, you’ll probably be better off to buy eggs from the store. But, that’s not the reason most of us keep chickens, right? We love the bright yellow yolks, the satisfaction of watching the hens peck around the yard, and all that comes with chicken-ownership.

However, if you experienced sticker-shock the last time you walked into the feed store, take heart! There are plenty of ways to save money on chicken feed, AND boost your flock’s nutrition in the process. This list will help you get started—>

15 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed

1. Shop around. When I started calling different feed mills, I was surprised at the huge difference in prices. Just remember– cheaper isn’t always better, and if you are feeding an ultra low-quality feed, it can be very hard on your birds.… [Continue Reading]

Do My Chickens Need a Heat Lamp?

should I use a heat lamp in my chicken coop?

Do your chickens wear sweaters?

Mine don’t, although I have to admit the pictures I’ve seen of sweatered hens are pretty cute. Alas, knitting is one area where my craftiness fails me, so I don’t see myself creating outerwear for my flock anytime soon.

But it brings us to an important topic– how exactly does one keep a chicken warm in the winter?

When I first got my chickens, I assumed they needed supplemental heat anytime the thermometer dipped below freezing. I mean, I was cold, so they obviously were too, right?

There’s actually a bit of debate surrounding the whole topic of chickens and heat lamps (not a surprise, because there seems to be debate surrounding everything these days…), so let’s look at this a bit closer.

Why do People Use Heat Lamps for Chickens?

Most people follow the same thought pattern I did: If I’m cold, my chickens must be cold too. Being the kind-hearted homesteaders we are, we want to make our animals as comfortable as possible. This usually means installing a heat lamp or two to provide extra warmth on those chilly days.

I did this for a while, mostly because I assumed it was the “right” thing to do–especially considering we homestead in Wyoming where it’s freeeezing cold during the winter months. 

But as I did more research and made more observations, I started to question as to whether this was actually correct…

are heat lamps safe for chickens?

Why Heat Lamps can be a Problem

First off, thinking an animal must be cold, just because we are cold, is a faulty assumption.

Chickens have feathers. Cows and goats have layers of winter hair. We don’t. Most all animals are designed to withstand weather conditions without any help from us humans. It can be hard for us to accept, but it’s true.… [Continue Reading]

Raising Pigs: Pros and Cons

raising pigs - pros and cons

By Heather Jackson, contributing writer

I blame Craigslist.

A year ago we added a new adventure to our lives when we responded to an ad on Craigslist and went to pick up three cute, squealing, pink pigs from a nearby farm to add to our homestead.  While we have thoroughly enjoyed having pigs on our little farm and having the pork in the freezer, owning pigs isn’t for everyone.  Here are some pros and cons to consider before you make the leap into raising pigs.

Homestead pigs

Raising Pigs: The Pros and Cons

Pro:  With pigs on our homestead, we have zero food waste.  Like, ever.  The pigs eat all food scraps we throw their way.  We scrape our dishes into the “pig bucket” that sits on our kitchen counter.  We also pour in leftover milk, stale cereal, and whey from cheese making.  Basically, if it’s edible (not moldy) they will love it.  This keeps the cost of feeding them very low for animals so large!

Con:  Pigs eat a lot, which means that pigs poop a lot.  While they are much cleaner than we are often lead to believe, their pens can really stink on a hot day!  They generally designate a corner of their pen as the restroom, which seems rather civilized, but is still quite smelly when you are downwind.  If you have close neighbors, they might have well-founded objections to your pigs.

Pro:  Pigs are smart!  Some are even sweet and friendly and interacting with a friendly pig can be a delightful experience.

Con:  Pigs are smart!  They can figure out ways to escape their pen and once they do, they are difficult to catch!  They will need a strong enclosure, likely electrified, in order to keep them where you want them. (Jill: TRUTH. You should see what our pigs did to our front yard this summer…) 

 

vertical pig pic

Pro:  Pigs are fun to watch.  … [Continue Reading]

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Goats

5 reasons not to get goats: some of the hazards of goat ownership...
By Heather Jackson, contributing writer
Don’t get me wrong, I love my dairy goats, but today I’m going to tell you five reasons NOT to get goats…
I usually consider goats to be gateway livestock. They are one of the first stops as we fall down the rabbit hole that is homesteading (Jill: that was definitely true for us!). Goats are less expensive than cows and their size makes them a little less intimidating to the novice homesteader.  Because of that, I think many people get started with goats before they really think through the consequences.
There are many things to consider before getting goats, and I’ll be honest, some are a bit of a hassle. So, it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the headaches before you dive in!
 Why not to get goats:  Oreo the Goat

 5 Reasons You Might Reconsider Getting Goats

1. Toenail Trimming
Goat hooves have to be trimmed on a regular basis. Some goats need it more often than others, but proper trimming is very important to goat health.  Overgrown nails can make it very difficult for a goat to get around well, so they have to be taken seriously.
I’ll tell you, giving a goat a pedicure isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
For me, hoof trimming involves strapping the goat into the milking stand and plying it with feed to keep it happy.  I then lift each foot in turn and scrape it clean with a foot pick and trim the nails with what amounts to a very sharp pair of pruning sheers. All the while, bending at an awkward angle and trying simultaneously not to cut myself with the clippers or get kicked in the face. It’s not that fun, y’all, but it has to get done.
2. Fencing (and escaping!)
If a fence can’t hold water, it can’t hold goats!  … [Continue Reading]