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Chickens are arguably the most efficient livestock you can own. They take up little space, are easy to care for, and produce both meat and eggs. However, feeding them can still be expensive, especially if you rely on pricier organic feeds for your flock. With egg prices remaining near ten-year lows, feeding your chickens as economically as possible is especially important right now.
Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to keep your feed costs manageable. And while you may not eliminate your trips to the hardware store for another bag of layer pellets or cracked corn, you can certainly reduce the number of trips you have to take this year. Here are four great tips for lowering feed costs with the chickens you raise.
1. Range free and far
If chickens are penned up, they are completely reliant on the food you provide them. But if you let them roam free, they will be able to forage and eat grasses, seeds and any hapless bugs that come their way. Free-ranging your chickens will enable them to get much of the nutrients they need, and will help make the feed you purchase go a long way. Many people believe that eggs from free-range chickens taste better, too.
You also can set the chickens on your garden beds in the fall, and let them devour dead vegetables, plants and any bugs that are setting up shop there. The key with free-ranging your chickens is ensuring they are protected from predators (and themselves, since some chickens are prone to wandering) with good fencing. If you are uncomfortable with letting your chickens roam completely free, then you can compromise and set them in a chicken tractor that you move around your homestead every few days.
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