50 Ways on How to Feed Chickens Without Buying Feed

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I will give you all the ways how to feed chickens without buying feed. Yes, it is possible!

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With inflation, prices of feed have been increasing in America and we are feeling it. Most chicken owners are on a tight budget when it comes to their chicken’s feed.

Even cheap chicken feed from a local feed store is getting expensive. 

No matter what type of chicken owner you are, having backyard chickens, a small flock, or having your chickens in a chicken run, you can cut food costs and pay less money with these ideas.

pastured raised hens

Regardless if you are buying organic feed or nonorganic, feed prices are becoming unaffordable for many people who have chickens.

Learning how to feed chickens without buying feed, will help your pocketbook and give you great ideas for alternative feed for your chicken food.

You can use all these ideas to make homemade feed as well.

How to feed chickens without buying feed

Foraging for their food.

Letting your chickens forage for their food out in the open pasture can save you money in the long run, and give you the best quality eggs possible. 

You should let your chickens free-range all day long so they can get much-needed sun and bugs.

Grow sprouts

micro greens

You can buy micro green seeds or use leftover vegetable seeds and sprout them long enough to feed your chickens. 

Microgreens are very nutritious for humans and even more nutritious for your chickens.

Crow edible flowers

There are certain flowers that you can eat safely so by growing edible flowers you can provide your chickens with nutritious plants as food.

You can have endless food for them to eat if you’re able to maintain an edible flower garden for them.

nasturtium

Some edible flowers: 

  • Nasturtium
  • Echinacea
  • Dandelions
  • Bee balm
  • Marigolds
  • Hibiscus
  • Calendula

Grow herbs

Grow a herb chicken garden for your chickens because herbs are very nutritious and prevent a lot of diseases.

Herbs can help stop the spread of infections in your chickens too.

mint

Some of the best herbs for chickens:

  • Mint
  • Rosemerry
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme

Learn more on our herb garden for beginners guide so you can start your own herb garden for your hens.

Grow lots of sunflowers

Chickens love sunflower seeds and the seeds will keep them busy for a while if you’re able to give them a bunch of sunflowers seeds.

Growing sunflowers harvest their seeds for your chickens!

sunflower heads

I would harvest sunflowers as soon as you see them bloom, cut their heads, and place them in a dry spot, away from any birds so they can dry out.

Harvesting sunflower heads early can help avoid other critters to prevent them from being eaten before your chickens can enjoy their seeds.

Leftover bread

Whether you buy bread or bake it yourself, if you have leftover scraps of bread, do not throw it away, give it to your chickens. 

Fresh or stale bread, chicken love all bread just make sure you cut it up in little pieces.

Bread is not something you should give to your chickens daily but only in moderation.

Avoid moldy bread, or bread with cheese in it because it can potentially make your chickens sick. 

Grow mulberries trees 

Mulberry is healthy for chickens to eat as they contain a good source of potassium, iron, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium.

Grow mulberry trees where you will have chickens and when the fruit is big enough the mulberries will eventually fall to the ground for the chickens to scavenge.

Do not pick unripe mulberries or feed the leaves to your chickens as both can make them ill.

Make a red worm bin

 Create a worm bin for red worms and you can make even more red worms to eventually have enough worms to feed your chickens. 

Learn the life cycle of a worm Here.

Below are some ideas on how to create a red worm bin. There are many ways to make it so you have a lot of options.

Cook grits

You can buy a tub of grits for a decent price and make them for your chickens. Grits are made of crushed corn and you can compare it to cornmeal. 

Grits have a lot of vitamins and minerals for your chickens. 

Read all about how you feed your chicken grits here and learn all about grits!

Crush up oyster shells

If you can get your hands on some oyster shells give them to your chickens.

 Feeding them oyster shells is a great way to provide them with a good amount of calcium from the oyster shells.

So if you have a local resource to get oyster shells at a decent price point then definitely save the shells.

By not wasting oyster shells you are also decreasing your garbage.

Cook hard-boiled eggs

hard boiled eggs

It’s a win-win situation when you have chickens because if you have too many eggs you can make hard-boiled eggs and feed them to your hens.

Hard-boiled eggs are a great protein source for your chickens, and they will be all over it.

Snag plant nursery rejects

If you have plant nurseries around your local area I suggest you go by and ask the nursery if you take what they will throw away, make sure that they are edible.

Plant nurseries throw thousands of plants away each month or weekly so you can get your hands on some good free edible plants to feed your chickens.

I suggest getting you to get familiar with your local nursery so you can research beforehand what plants to keep your eye on.

Leftover public school food

Usually, everyone has a public school around them or a childcare facility. Public schools usually throw a ton of food away at the end of the week that is not eaten.

Simply ask the kitchen staff if there are any throwaways for the week and snag yourself some food that chickens can eat like leftover eggs, bread, any leafy greens, etc.

Befriend your lunch ladies! 

Freeze kitchen vegetable scraps

kitchen scrapes

Kitchen scraps can be frozen for later, you can prevent it from going bad if you forget to give them to your chickens.

Simply place it in a bowl, put some water in it, and freeze it. 

You’ll have an ice cube of greens or whatever kitchen scraps you have. 

This is also a good idea when it comes to the summertime to keep them cool.

Leftover vegetable stock

Whenever you cook vegetables in water, in a crockpot, in an Instant pot, or just plainly using water, or a stovetop pot, save it and give it to your chickens.

Leftover vegetable stock, or any type of stock is nutritious and won’t go to waste because it will provide extra food for your chickens.

Dumpster dive scraps

If you have no shame, dumpster dives to get food for your chickens.

Tons and tons of food go to waste in the United States. So dumpster diving is a practical thing to do.

But of course, stay safe, wearing gloves and protective clothing when you are getting food that is thrown away from anywhere.

Safety is key when dumpster diving. Use common sense and make yourself safe.

Breweries waste

The waste of berries is a good source of food for chickens.

Not everyone’s gonna have this option, but if you do, definitely take advantage of it. 

Ask the brewery if you can snag any of their waists to take it off their hands.

Learn all about brewers’ waste here to feed chickens HERE.

Give them mixed nuts and seeds

Mixed nuts and seeds are a perfect snack for your chickens. Whatever you have scraps of nuts and seeds, or you can buy in bulk. 

Mixed but is another great nutritious food alternative way to feed your chickens without feed.

Grow edible perennial crops

kale garden

Take the time to grow a perennial garden that will feed your chickens. Growing a vegetable garden that comes back every year without re-planting will cut your chicken feed bill.

Perennial crops are a very cost-effective way to grow and feed your chickens because they keep coming back every year without you having to replant.

Some perennial crops you can grow: 

  • Rhubarb 
  • Chives 
  • Asparagus 
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Kale

Get bakery waste

If you have a local bakery next to you, ask them if they will let you take there waste off their hands.

You can go and knock on their door and ask for their ways because it’s a good source of food for your chickens.

Cover crops

Depending on your going zone, there are so many different cover crops. You can grow cover crops to not only feed your soil but also help feed your chickens.

Cover crops like buckwheat, sorghum gum, Black Eyed Peas, or even sweet potatoes can be grown in bulk and create a cover crop that will give plenty of food without any effort.

Don’t know what a cover crop is CLICK HERE.

Carcass of poultry 

Chickens like to pick and feed on other animal carcasses. 

If you are butchering chickens, or have a leftover turkey, save the carcass and throw it to your chickens. 

Animal carcasses are a great source of protein, and your chickens will enjoy every minute of it.

Dehydrated eggs

Dehydrated eggs are as good as fresh eggs, and will be a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and protein for chickens.

Dehydrating eggs is a good way to preserve scrambled eggs and a way to save food for your chickens throughout the week.

Dehydrating eggs will prevent mold, it will be a fun way for your chickens to pick up and eat a good source of protein.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, I recommend the magic mill dehydrator for beginners who are not a budget. Check out my Magic Mills Review too!

Leftover fruit

fuit

Have leftover fruit from the supermarket, supermarket, or farmers market, or if you’re buying a bulk and don’t want your fruit to go bad… give it to your chickens!

Note that not all fruit is good for chickens, avoid giving them any type of citrus fruit as it can make them ill.

Fish 

Chickens love picking, and eating fish, cooked or uncooked. Chickens love fish guts 

This would be a great advantage for someone who has a pond and goes fishing a lot or simply just has leftover fish.

Duckweed

Aquatic plants like duckweed are rich in protein-protein for your chickens.

Check out the video below to learn how to feed your chicken’s duckweed! 

Roadkill

Roadkill might sound disgusting, but it is potential food for your chickens. Be careful while picking up roadkill wear gloves, and make sure that note on a busy road.

Grass clippings

grass

Save all your grass clippings when you mow the lawn or when you’re reading because chickens cannot get enough fresh grass.

Especially if you’re not able to put your chickens on pasture, or in a big pile of land, pulling out grass or growing a little patch of it, will provide your chickens with amazing food.

Cumfrey

Growing comfrey is another way to feed chickens without buying feed.

Comfrey excellent food for chickens because it is considered high in protein, and has a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and fiber.

Winter squash

If you have a garden or just grow squash every year, make sure you plant extra as you can give winter squash to your chickens.

Winter squash, or any type of squash, is very nutritious for your chickens, and they would love every moment of eating it.

Mice 

Place some mouse traps around your barn, or wherever you live and feed them to your chickens. 

Sometimes chickens will get to them before you, but mice are another source of food for your hens and roosters.

Hay

Finding a hay bale or spreading extra hay you have across an open field for your chickens is a good way for them to forage and provide them something else to eat rather than feed.

Garden bugs

garden bugs

Chickens love garden bugs, it helps that bugs are good protein content for your own chickens. 

So next time when you’re going to your garden, get a bucket and pick up all the bugs off your vegetable plants and throw them to your chickens.

Chickens love all types of bugs like slugs, hornworms, you name it, they love it!

Fly larvae

You can trap fly larvae and feed them to your chickens click here to see how. 

Chickens love to pick at fly larvae and it is a high-protein feed source of protein for them.

Maggots

You can make a maggot just for your chickens, and this will be a great way to feed them without my feed.

Maggots are a great source of protein for chickens, and if you’re able to make a lot of maggots, it could be money-saving for you.

Below is a video on how to create a maggots bucket for your chickens.

Restaurant scraps

If you have restaurants around you or know, somebody who works at a restaurant, don’t be ashamed to ask for their ways as they throw away a lot of food every day. 

You have all the food that they throw away you can feed them to chicken instead of ending up in the garbage.

Kitchen veggie leftovers

chicken foraging

Another great thing you can do is keep a bowl or a bucket in the kitchen and add all your kitchen scraps to it. 

When you are chopping cutting or even your leftovers just fill the bucket or large bowl of kitchen scraps and take it to your chickens at the end of the day.

Chickens. Love all your veggie leftovers remember to see them and do not throw them away.

Crickets

chricket

You can start breeding crickets to help provide a source of protein for your chickens.

Crickets are pretty fast and hard to catch if they’re in the garden or around your home so by containing them in a container it is easier for you to give them to your chickens without doing too much work.

Whey of Dairy product Waste 

Do you make your own dairy products? Don’t throw away your access way and give it to your chicken.

If you live by a dairy farm or no one in your area ask them for their waste. Whey and milk waste is a great source of protein and calcium for your chickens.

Grocery store waste 

Just like a restaurant or a school cafeteria, ask your local grocery store if you can take what they throw away

Grocery store Waze has tons of food that can be fed to your chickens. Pick and choose what you can, and cannot feed your chickens for a list of food you can’t feed your chickens, secure.

Halloween pumpkins

Smash a couple of pumpkins during the fall, and Halloween seasons to feed your chickens. 

For a more cost-effective way to use pumpkins, you can grow a bunch of pumpkins and then feed them to your chickens. 

By breaking them on the ground you can have your chicken forage for all their pumpkin insides.

Compost pile

compost

A compost pile is a great way to feed your chickens without buying feed. You can make a huge compost pile in the middle of where your chickens hang out so they can forage in it.

Below is a video showing how much food a big compost pile can be food for your chickens

Scrambled eggs

If you have leftover scrambled eggs from breakfast, or you have too many leftover eggs from your hens, go ahead and scramble them up and feed them to your chickens.

Grow DIY Fodder

Grow your fodder by buying a large bag of winter wheat seed and in as little as 5 days you will have plenty of green wheat grass to feed your chickens. 

You can grow a lot of fodder in baking pans or large trays you have on hand.

The video below shows you how easy growing fodder for chickens can be!

Butcher Waste

Contact your local butcher and ask if they’re willing to give away their waste.

All the difference is that I grab some meat rejects that do not have much fat on them. But your waist is perfectly fine for your hands because chickens are omnivores.

Cottonseed Meal Farm waste

Cottonseed meal is an acceptable food source for your chickens because it is a good source of protein and fiber.

if you can get your hand on some cottonseed meal use it sparingly by incorporating other food resources for your chickens.

Dehydrated eggs

If you have a dehydrator, try to dehydrate leftover eggs to feed your chickens.

If you have a lot of chickens and are overflowing with eggs, scrambled them and dehydrated them.

Dehydrated eggs are a great way to preserve eggs and the edition has other food resources for your tickets

Farmers Market Rejects

At the end of a farmers market, when everybody’s packing up, sometimes farmers may throw out leftover food products. 

If you have the opportunity to get a hold of farmers market food rejects scoop them up and use their waste as food for your chickens.

Crush & Bake egg shells

egg shells

Do not throw away any of your egg shells from the supermarket or your hens as you can place eggs shells on a sheet pan, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400°.

You can crush them up and throw them to your chickens. 

Crushed and baked egg shells are a great source of calcium for your chickens!

Your chickens are making food for themselves if you think about it.

Grow mealworms

Beetles can create tons of larvae which are mealworms.

All you need is a little bit of food like wheat bran to kick start your mealworm production or buy meal worms online.

Click Here to read how to make your mealworm farm for your chickens.

Hope you got some ideas on how to feed chickens without buying feed!

More Chicken posts!

What breed of chicken lays white eggs? ( Here are 20 Amazing Breeds that Do!)

30 Amazing Small Chicken Breeds for your Backyard flock

The Truth behind Farm Fresh Eggs vs Store-Bought Eggs

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ways to feed chickens without buying feed

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