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It’s so important if you want to have a profitable small farm or homestead business to save as much as you can on the feed bill.
It goes without saying that if you have bigger 4 season gardens, the extra produce will make a huge dent in your feed bill for livestock. Also, if you have enough land for your livestock to graze or browse, you’ll save a lot of money!
We do have both of those things in place now, but it wasn’t always so!
We used to not have enough fencing for the herbivores to browse all their summer food. My garden used to not be big enough to share with the chickens, goats and donkeys.
When also raised some livestock that could not live off our resources alone. Which brings me to the first way to save money… choose your breeds carefully!
Our chosen livestock animals
Our other chosen poultry and other livestock aren’t super heavy commercial eaters. This matters! When I had super large heavy layer chickens and large dairy goats our natural resources were not enough.
When my husband raised Meishan they still needed more to eat than our resources in order to have all those babies.
You can watch this video if you’d like to know more about them. They are a very neat homestead hog for many people.
Full size Dairy goats, dairy sheep, and cows are also big eaters! Chickens and waterfowl can certainly eat a lot too!
So here are a few tips that have helped us without adding extensive work for feeding that doesn’t make enough of a difference in the long run, like growing fodder or sprouting, UGH!
Both have been tried here and are just not realistic, way to labor intensive for us! But Here are things that did work while we were figuring things out for our homestead.
Tips to save on the Feed Bill if you don’t have a big garden or land for browsing
1. The local bread store is a great resource!
I can’t believe how much is thrown out. It’s perfectly good bread but after a day whole grain organic bread gets too stale and can’t be sold to customers.
Feeding all these different whole grain breads allowed us to cut way back from the carbohydrate portion of our pigs and poultry feed. We would get a whole truckload a week.
So check your local bakery’s! Many small bakeries are happy to know their stale wholesome bread goods are still being put to good use. Just be sure its NOT moldly and organic is always preferred.
2. Brewers grains.
Very high in protein and fiber! Must be kept to around 20% for poultry feed or they will drop in egg production as they can’t handle the high fiber in excess. Geese can have a little higher without dropping because they can break down fiber better. Its amazing for dairy goats and sheep!
Dairy sheep and goats get about 40% of their ration in this because they are ruminants and can handle the high fiber.
This allowed us to cut back on the protein portion of feed we had to buy for the poultry and goat/sheep breeds we had at the time.
With all the small micro-brewery’s around now this is fairly easy feed to find and they are happy to give it to you!
Just keep it away from your pigs, it kills their growth rate and can hurt their productivity. Trust me, we found out the hard way a few years ago!!! That’s what we get for listening to the armchair farmers on facebook I guess! Lesson Learned!
3. Re-Hydrated Alfalfa cubes.
This is something I do for geese, sheep and dairy goats. High protein, high fiber again so the chickens and ducks only get a little in the winter when they aren’t getting any grasses. Dehydrated alfalfa cubes rehydrated and made soft to mix in their feed. Quick and easy! I just fill a bucket and soak overnight. It’s not really any extra work.
The alfalfa cubes are less expensive than alfalfa meal for poultry and go farther than the pellets do for the equine and ruminants.
It’s not much extra effort (like fodder! yikes!) although not as easy as pouring out a bag of dry animal feed but we saw a major decline in our feed bill by utilizing these things.
Plus they absolutely loved the variety they got! I believe with a greater variety of foods they will be healthier happier animals! They sure get more excited about feed time!
Farming on a small scale you will find yourself paying the highest retail prices for feed
This leaves you with a feed bill so high that many new people trying to farm struggle with the fact that their feed bill is now higher than their grocery bill used to be.
It also makes it very difficult for the small farmer to make any profit if they sell their products. Most of the time they actually lose money.
Certainly, the type of livestock you raise needs to fit the size of your acres and be adaptable to your climate, this also helps!
We are constantly looking for ways to realistically save on the feed bill and keep the animals super healthy! Being out in the open air certainly helps with that too!
Look around your area! You may find some ways to save on your feed bill and put to good use.