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Raising Chickens On a Dime: 14 Ways To Save Money On Your Flock

Did you buy a flock of chickens hoping to save money on eggs, and then find that they cost more to care for than eggs do?

We did too.

We found through trial and error that there are dozens of ways to save money raising chickens. If you’re resourceful and creative, you truly don’t need to spend much on your flock to keep them happy and healthy.

We’ve compiled some of our best tips for raising chickens on a dime.

1. Grow a chicken garden

Chickens being fed cherry tomatoes from the vegetable garden

One of the best ways to lower your feed bill is to grow some of the chicken feed yourself.

Planting a garden with your chickens in mind can cut your feed bill almost in half come harvest time. 

The best part of this plan is, you can benefit from the crops too! All of the plants on this list are well adored by humans as well as chickens. 

Plants to grow in your chicken garden:

  • Lettuce
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflowers
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Strawberries
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Melon

2. Ferment your chicken feed

Fermenting chicken feed is one of the best ways to make it last longer and provide more health benefits to your flock at the same time.

Fermented feed provides probiotics and healthy bacteria, and your flock will absolutely love it!

No more food wasted is always a great thing.

Here’s a guide to fermenting your chicken feed.

3. Make your own chicken treats

Mealworms make an excellent inexpensive chicken treat

Chicken treats can really rack up the feed bill, even simple treats like mealworms can get expensive fast if you have a big flock to feed.

If you want to save money in this arena, you can make your own chicken treats! 

If you’re not squeamish, it’s easy to raise your own mealworms or grubs for your flock. You could also experiment with making your own flock block using seeds, grains, and tallow or lard. 

4. Free range your flock

A bowl of edible chicken weeds

Free ranging is one of the best ways to save money on raising chickens.

A free ranging flock will forage for much of their own food during the day, feasting on grass, weeds, and bugs that they find.

Here’s a list of common garden weeds you can feed to your chickens for a nutritional boost – and the poisonous weeds you should avoid.

Free range chickens also tend to be healthier, which will save on medical expenses down the road.

Speaking of saving on medical expenses, there are plenty of ways to cut down on this cost as well.

5. Provide a dust bath

The simple act of making a dust bath for your chickens will go the extra mile to keep them happy and healthy.

A proper dust bath helps chickens to ward off parasites like lice and mites before they strike. Taking a dust bath every day can make the difference between bug free chickens, and infestations of parasites.

Here’s our process for making a chicken dust bath in two minutes.

6. Glean free chicken food from local businesses

Food waste is a major issue in most first world countries, but it doesn’t need to be.

Your local grocery stores, restaurants, and even farmer’s markets are great places to find free chicken food, if you’re not afraid to ask.

At the grocery store, get in touch with the produce manager to see if you can pick up any unsellable fruits and vegetables once a week to feed to your flock. 

Check with local restaurants to see if they’re willing to set aside unusable produce or grains for your chickens. 

Even visiting the local farmer’s market around closing time can yield tons of great produce for your flock. Many farmers don’t want to bring crops home and will give you produce for very cheap or even free.

7. Save money on the chicken coop

A small chicken coop

The chicken coop tends to be one of the biggest expenses when getting started with chickens, but did you know it’s actually quite easy and inexpensive to build your own?

There are plenty of free plans available for chicken coops on the internet. If you use materials like scrap lumber and pallets, or re-furbish another structure, you can create a chicken coop for practically free. 

8. Don’t buy nesting boxes or roosts

It can be so tempting when you’re just starting off with chickens to invest in all the chicken paraphernalia out there.

Truth be told, though, chickens don’t need much to be happy, and you certainly don’t need to purchase things like nesting boxes and roosts to keep them happy.

You can make nesting boxes out of spare boxes, cartons, or bins for free. Roosts can easily be made from tree branches or spare 2x4s. Save your money when it comes to these materials and make them for free.

9. Grow sprouted grains

Sprouted hard red winter wheat berries ready to be used as chicken feed

This fun little project can save so much money on chicken feed while also increasing the general health of your flock.

You can easily grow fodder for your chickens by sprouting common, inexpensive grains at home. Growing your own fodder is the perfect project for the winter, when chickens have little to no access to fresh greens.

It’s super simple too.

All you need to do is purchase high quality grains that have been tested to ensure they sprout – these hard red winter wheat berries are the perfect choice – and then follow the process outlined here.

10. Hatch your own chickens

A recently hatched baby chick

If you have a rooster and some willing broody hens, you can save tons of money on raising chickens by hatching your own!

One of the biggest expenses for chicken keepers is the chickens themselves, especially if you like more fancy breeds like Black Copper Marans or Polish Chickens. 

Letting nature take its course and allowing your broody hens to hatch and raise chicks will save you money at the hatchery, and it’s plenty of fun to watch a momma hen take care of her babies.

11. Get rid of pests

Chicken coop pests can cost you money in so many ways. Mice and rats will eat through your chicken feed and treats, while quickly multiplying and exacerbating your issue. 

Parasites like lice and mites rob your chickens of their good health, which will cost you more in the long run from medical expenses and less eggs from your flock.

Taking some basic measures to get rid of pests by providing dust baths and using rodent traps will help you save money in the long run.

12. Raise Bantam breeds

Bantam chicken breeds are much smaller.

Raising Bantam chickens saves money in almost every respect.

These miniature chickens don’t need as much space as standard chickens, so you can get away with building or buying a smaller coop. 

Bantam chickens also eat a lot less than standard chickens, saving you money at the feed store. The only real downside is that Bantams produce smaller eggs, so that’s something to consider if you’re thinking of raising these chickens.

Here’s our guide to raising Bantam chickens.

13. Combine your compost and chicken keeping efforts

You can save money on raising chickens and save money gardening if you let your chickens help you with the composting. Feed leftovers or food scraps from family meals to your chickens instead of tossing them in the compost pile. 

This will not only feed your flock, but that food will turn into nitrogen rich fertilizer for the garden. 

Do make sure to let it age one year before using it, as fresh chicken manure can burn plants and harbor bad bacteria.

14. Save money on bedding

Fallen leaves in the chicken run

If you’re clever enough, you can really cut down on the amount you spend on bedding for the coop, run, and nesting boxes.

If you live in an area that has lots of leaf litter in the fall, use if for the chicken coop!

Mulching up leaves in the lawn mower then using them on the floor of the chicken coop and run is a great way to clean up the yard, and supply free bedding for your chickens. 

You can also find free or cheap bedding if you happen to live near a saw mill. Pine shavings are a by-product of this industry that can often be snagged for free or cheap if you haul it away yourself. 

In the fall, you can salvage bales of straw that were used for Halloween decorations to use as bedding in the chicken run. 

Getting creative and resourceful will save you so much money on raising chickens.

Saving money on chickens is only half the fun though, read our post on making money with your chickens if you really want more bang for your buck!

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Meredith Skyer

Meredith Skyer is a writer, artist, and homesteader residing in Western New York with her husband and menagerie of farm critters.

She has spent the last 12 years learning and implementing a myriad of homesteading skills, specializing in growing food and animal husbandry. Her biggest passion is working in conjunction with the natural world to harvest healthy, organic food from her own backyard.

Meredith is a freelance writer and founder of Backyard Chicken Project, a place for crazy chicken people to gather, learn, and share in their love of chickens. She also contributes articles to Mother Earth News Online, From Scratch Magazine, and Grit.

Meredith works from her woodland homestead where she spends her days writing, creating animal-inspired art, and chasing after her flock of chickens.

You can visit her at