Many people want chickens in order to have fresh eggs, but in order to know if it it worth raising chickens you should find out how much it costs to feed chickens. This way you will know how much you need to budget in order to take care of them.
It typically can cost anywhere from .7 cents to .15 cents per day, per chicken in feed. Although the cost to feed chickens will vary based on what you are feeding your chickens as well as a few other factors which we will discuss, you should be able to come up with a ballpark figure after reading below.
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Feeding Chickens - Cost to Feed Chickens
Before you can determine how much your chicken feed will cost you, there are a few things that you need to know and decide on first. And, keep in mind, that there are more costs to keep chickens than just their feed.
Types of Feed
First, you will need to decide what type of feed you will be feeding your chickens. The cost of feed for chickens can vary quite a lot based on if you are feeding regular chicken feed or a non-GMO organic chicken feed.
In general, you can get a 50 pound bag of regular chicken feed for about $12 - $15. Non-GMO organic chicken feed will run you about $30 per bag for 50 pounds. So, you can see that feeding chickens organically will about double your cost of feed.
However, there are definite advantages to feeding organic, despite the cost. So you will have to decide if that is something that is important to you or not.
Starter vs Grower vs Layer Feed
Once you have decided if you will feed conventional or organic feed, you will also need to get the appropriate type of feed for the age of your flock. There are three main feed categories: starter, grower and layer feed.
Starter feed should by fed from when you hatch chicks through until they are from 6 - 10 weeks in age. Starter feed has a very high protein content to help them as they grow fast and make big changes while they are young and developing.
Grower feed should be fed from the time you switch from starter feed (around 6 - 10 weeks) until they are about ready to lay eggs which is typically in the 16 week timeframe. Grower feed is also high in protein in order to support their growth.
Layer feed should be fed from around 16 weeks through the rest of their life. It has added calcium in it to support their shell formation and egg laying. It is important to not feed layer feed too early as too much calcium can cause leg issues, kidney issues and other health problems.
Amount of Feed per chicken per day
Of course, how much feed your chickens will consume will depend on a few factors. We will look at age/size as well as feed supplements as we assess how much feed per chicken you will need to provide.
First, let's talk about adult layers. A generally accepted layer feed consumption per day is .25 or ¼ of a pound of chicken feed per day. This is assuming that you are feeding adult layers a regular dry chicken feed as their only source of feed. Bantam chickens will eat about half that amount as they are about half the size.
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Next, let's talk about chicks from hatch to 8 weeks of age. Of course, a little baby chick is not going to be feed as much as an adult chicken. From our experience raising pullet growouts, each chick will eat about 5 - 6 pounds of feed from day one to 8 weeks of age. The first few weeks, they don't consume much feed. But at week 4 or so, they can really start to plow through their feed.
If they are getting lots of garden scraps, scratch, mealworms or are free-ranging they will be getting nutrients from additional sources and this can decrease chicken feed costs. If you are using no-waste DIY chicken feeders or fermenting chicken feed, your chickens will be getting more of the good stuff and wasting less. This will mean less feed per day per chicken.
So, what is the Cost to Feed Chickens?
For these calculations, we will assume we are feeding standard sized adult chickens.
If you are feeding your chickens regular chicken feed, the cost to feed your chickens will be about 7 - 8 cents per day.
The way to figure this out is to find the cost per pound of feed ($15/50lbs). Regular feed costs about .30 cents per pound.
Next, figure out how many pounds of feed a chicken will eat per month.
To do this take .25 (amount per day) and multiply by days in the month (30). This tells you a chicken will eat about 7.5 pounds of feed per month.
Next, find out the cost to feed a chicken per month.
You can do this by multiplying pounds of feed per month (7.5) by cost of feed per pound (.30).
This tells you that the cost to feed a chicken for one month is about $2.25. You can then divide that by 30 to find out the cost per day.
If you are feeding chickens organic feed, the cost will be about double this. The cost to feed your chickens per day will be about .15 cents.
Organic feed costs about .60 cents per pound. You'll still be feeding your chickens 7.5 pounds of feed per chicken per month.
So, the cost to feed a chicken per month on organic feed is $4.50.
So, how much will my entire flock cost to feed?
To find out how much it will cost to feed your entire flock of chickens, you can just multiply the cost per month (or per day) by the number of chickens you have (or intend to have).
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.