If you’re looking for ways on how to save money when keeping chickens, you’ve clicked the right article.
When keeping chickens, most beginner keepers think selling eggs will offset the chickens’ cost. While it does help balance the pocketbook, there are many ways to cut costs without compromising care.
In fact, many of the choices below will benefit you and your chickens’ lives!
For a speedy version of this in-depth list, see the quick list at the bottom of this page!
How To Save Money When Keeping Chickens
In The Coop
1. Repurpose Building Materials
When building your chicken coop, it can be enticing, inspired by Pinterest-worthy coops, to want to construct the Taj Mahal of chicken coops.
But if you’re looking to save money when raising chickens, repurposing prior building materials or natural materials around the farm can help to reduce your spending.
Using small trees as roosts and leaf litter for bedding is a cost-effective way to finish your coop for free.
Check out our coop construction guide for what will work!
And also, placing your coop in a spot with natural shade from trees prevents having to build shade coverage using store-bought material.
2. Proper Ventilation is Key!
Proper coop construction is essential to keep your hens healthy and happy throughout each season. Airtight walls with roof ventilation cut down on drafts that could require heating (and add extra to your electricity bill!) to keep your hens warm.
3. Deep Litter Method
Using the deep litter method (a waste management system within the coop involving materials being added frequently and composting before being removed or replaced) can reduce the amount of bedding you purchase from the store or local woodlot.
4. Look for Second-Hand Sales of Materials
Watch local farming sites for second-hand sales on lumber, fencing, posts, chicken supplies, and roofing material.
5. Secure Your Coop from Pests and Predators Alike
A secure coop deters unwanted rodents and pests from snacking on your feed (or worse, birds!), which saves money on feed and bird replacements in the long run.
Make sure to follow these predator-proofing tips that we got for you!
How To Save Money When Buying Chicken Feed (And Foraging Tips!)
Chicken Feed For Cheap
6. Buy in Bulk!
Buying chicken feed in bulk can be a great way to save. Most chicken feed suppliers will discount bulk purchases.
However, you have to make sure first that you have proper storage for the excess feed so they won’t go to waste!
7. Food Waste
Checking with local restaurants, breweries, and grocers can unlock chicken feed savings like no other! Food waste generated by these large companies can feed your flock for free.
On a smaller scale, your kitchen food scrap is an excellent treat and food source.
However, you have to keep in mind that all chickens need a balanced feed as their primary source of nutrition. You gotta consider that, too!
8. Encourage Foraging with Your Flock!
Foraging or free-ranging is an excellent way to cut feed costs.
A chicken’s stomach is loaded with beneficial nutrients while the birds devour wriggly insects, grass, seeds, and leaves.
Portable or permanent electric fencing is an excellent line of defense if you live in an area prone to predator attacks.
We currently employ two livestock guardian dogs on the perimeter of the chicken fencing and have not lost one bird to a predator (land or aerial) since the dog’s arrival.
In years prior, young broiler birds we raised in electric netting were plucked from the ground in the early morning and gone without a trace.
We determined it was an owl swooping in on our unsuspecting birds. But with two full-time livestock dogs, the owl is sent packing.
9. Feed them their Egg Shells
Feeding your chickens their egg shells back to them instead of oyster shells can increase their calcium levels without costing you a dime.
As we know, calcium is important for chickens as it helps them hatch healthy eggs!
Hatching Hens And Raising Chicks To Save A Buck
Building Your Brooder And Hatching Homegrown Eggs
10. Hatch Your Own Eggs
Every so often, your flock will need replenishment to ensure top egg-laying production.
Collect and hatch your eggs as a replacement instead of buying hatching eggs or chicks.
11. Go for a Makeshift Brooder
Constructing a makeshift brooder with materials you have on hand will work just as well as the pre-made pricier options.
12. Purchase Chicks Near the End of the Season
If purchasing chicks, often near the end of the season, backyard breeders, commercial hatcheries, and feed stores typically have chicks on clearance.
13. Trade Hatching Eggs
If you require new stock, see about trading hatching eggs with a neighbor to save you both money on purchasing other eggs.
14. Raise Bantam Breeds
Raising bantam breeds can significantly lower your coop size requirements and feed costs.
15. Sell Eggs in Bulk
If possible, sell eggs in bulk to a customer to save on delivery costs.
Inexpensive Ways To Keep Your Hens Happy
Grow Your Own…
16. Chicken Garden
What is a chicken garden, you ask? It is a section of land partially cordoned off to your birds while their favorite herbs, vegetables, and fruits grow.
This garden doubles as an enrichment activity for your flock and a nutrient boost at the same time.
Growing your own chicken garden can save you tons on feed and supplements. Plus, you can also grow your own food here.
Talk about sustainability!
17. Mealworm Farm
Chicken treats are a fantastic way to lure your birds back into their pen after a day of free-ranging.
So Instead of purchasing meal worms, starting a mealworm farm will have an unending supply for a fraction of the cost of pre-packaged worms.
18. Dust Bathing
Try to provide your flock with a year-round option for dust bathing.
Dust bathing helps to keep your flock free of parasites, mites, coop infestations, and dander. As we know, these parasites could cost a significant amount to remedy should you find your flock infected.
With dust bathing, all you need to prepare is a place where your hens can roll around in the dust, dry earth, or sand.
Creating Free Compost
While this doesn’t necessarily cut chicken costs, it does create an added benefit to your farm that you would typically have to purchase.
Chickens are expert compost creators. You’ll end up with dark, moist soil by using spent bedding and manure in your compost pile and then employing chickens to turn it for you.
This soil can be used directly in the garden, in beds, in pots, or to start seedlings without purchasing bagged soil.
Quick List To Keep Your Costs Down And Chickens Cheap!
- Repurpose building materials and build with what you have.
- Use natural shade trees.
- A properly ventilated coop saves on electricity.
- Use the deep litter method.
- Take advantage of second-hand items or sales.
- Secure your coop and run against predators.
- Buy feed in bulk.
- Check for local food waste/scrap for treats.
- Forage your flock.
- Feed egg shells back to your birds.
- Hatch your own.
- Use a makeshift brooder.
- Buy chicks on sale.
- Trade eggs with neighbors to replenish the flock.
- Raise bantam breeds.
- Sell eggs in bulk.
- Grow a chicken garden.
- Start a mealworm farm.
- Provide necessities to keep the flock healthy.
FAQs on How to Save Money When Keeping Chickens
What is the minimum amount of chickens you should keep?
If you’re only planning or are just starting to raise your own flock, keeping 3 laying hens at the minimum is a good starter flock size.
3 hens and 1 rooster, at the very least, should provide you with a dozen of eggs for the family.
However, if you’re looking into turning it into a business, you will need to invest in a larger number of hens and roosters.
As a general rule, you can keep 10 hens for every 1 rooster.
What food do chickens need daily?
Whether you’re feeding your chickens commercially-bought feeds or homemade ones, you have to make sure they’re getting a nutritious and balanced meal every day.
Chickens need to have their dose of the following:
- Protein (from protein sources like dried mealworms, dried soldier fly larvae, insects, and seeds)
- Calcium (crushed eggshell or oyster shell)
- Grains (ground wheat, oats, barley, corn, etc.)
- Greens (lettuce, kale, turnip greens, and chard)
You can also feed them with vitamin and mineral supplements for extra assurance that they’re healthy as they can be!
Is it cheaper to make your own chicken food?
Mixing your own chicken food can be a lot cheaper than buying a readily-available one.
Not only will it allow you to customize your chicken feed (especially if they have specific nutritional requirements,) but it can also be cost-effective, especially if you can buy the ingredients in bulk, like the grains and seeds.
How to Save Money When Keeping Chickens – Final Thoughts
Does keeping chickens save you money? Honestly, in the beginning, no. Typically starting up a flock, building a coop, and purchasing feed and supplies are expensive.
But with these 18 tips and tricks on keeping chickens while saving money, you’ll find not only do the egg sales pad your pocket but also creates a sustainable food source on your farm, affordably!