Chicken feed is not a huge expense, we have a very small flock and we get a bag of feed for $12-$15. The bag lasts us about 2 months. The chickens give us 10 dozen eggs a month. $15 is a small price to pay for that many eggs. Now that it has gotten colder we have noticed that the chickens eat almost twice as much as they did during the summer. Now we go through a bag of feed every month, still not horribly expensive, but we are how heating the water when the temperature drops below freezing. We provide extra light in their coop in the evening so they continue to lay eggs through the winter and on really cold nights we turn on a heat light. The costs are starting to add up. It is still not horrible but in a time when every penny counts, it is a noticeable increase in expenses.
I started thinking about ways to feed the chickens for free. I called a couple breweries in the area to see if I could get free used brewers grains. All the breweries already give their grains to farms, which I was excited to hear but sad that I was not able to get any. Back to the drawing board.
I remember seeing a sign in the Organic market that I go to for gluten free specialty products that they have free compost. The store is not too far away and we are in the area about once a week anyway for other reasons. Right before Christmas I started asking the store for compost and I have not been disappointed. The first time we went we got a box of greens and a box of apples. The second time we got 3 boxes of greens with some fruit mixed in. The third time we got 4 boxes of greens and fruit. It is like we hit the mother load.
This has decreased the amount of feed that they eat. We are on track to having a bag of feed last 2 months, maybe even a little longer. We have noticed a difference in the eggs as well. During the summer, when the chickens were able to roam the yard, the yokes of the eggs almost had a dark orange color to them. Then when the chickens had to be kept in a fenced pen and eat only chicken feed, the yokes went back to being just yellow again. Now that we are able to feed them fresh greens everyday the yokes have that nice color again. The darker yokes are higher in Omega 3’s and good cholesterol, so we get better food when the chickens get better food.
A bonus about the greens is the dogs love them too. They dogs really enjoy chewing on heads of cauliflower and broccoli. One dog even likes cabbage leaves. The dogs get extra treats and feel special and we get to spoil everyone all the way around.