Thursday, April 26, 2012

Recycled Chicken Bedding

Over the past year, we have learned a lot about raising chickens.  As always, we were trying to find ways to cut costs while raising these little cluckers and we have a few things we have done to help keep the costs to raising the chickens to a minimum.

We only spend money on the chicken food and what I call “fillers.”  Every 3-4 months, we buy a 50 lb bag of layer feed (approximately $14), 50 lb bag of rolled oats ($9.99) and a 50 lb bag of cracked corn ($7.99). 

From everything I’ve read, chickens are supposed to eat oyster shells, but at $5.00+/bag for just 2 lbs, we have opted against it.  Instead, we save all of the egg shells we use and crush them up to add to their chicken feed to ensure they are getting enough calcium and creating those big beautiful brown eggs!

Our chicken coop is a double-decker.  Originally, it was a chicken tractor, but in the winter, hubby built a floor on the bottom of the coop that can be opened from the bottom for easy cleanup, and built it on a pedestal using scrap wood he already had in the garage.  There is the roost up top where the chickens sleep and lay their eggs, as well as a lower part where their food and water is located. 

Since we brought the chicks home at 2-3 days old, we have been using recycled shredded paper that I get from work.  It is perfect, because it is easy to clean up, and I can get it in abundance!

On the bottom of the chicken coop*, I originally used old newspaper ads and junk mail to line the floor.  When hubby and I went away for a week in October, I had the brilliant idea to put old leaves in the bottom of the coop.  The chickens loved it!  When I found out how much they liked the leaves, I was raking leaves like crazy to last throughout the entire year!  When I clean the bottom of the coop (every month), I just put the leaves in the garden as compost. 

We have spent no money on straw or hay for the chickens, and they seem to enjoy the setup we have for them. 

All said, we are currently spending a little less than $2.50/dozen for our eggs.  I have a spreadsheet that tracks how many eggs the chickens lay and all of the expenses (minus the cost of the chicken coop). 

Do you use recycled goods for your chickens? 

*Our chickens are free-range chickens.  They don’t spend a lot of time in their coop other than to sleep, eat and lay their eggs.  They are outside about 14 hours a day picking bugs from the yard!


  1. I really like the leaf idea! We've been using pine needles (they're in great abundance at our house) in the nesting boxes. And ours are loose in the backyard during the day, they seem to love their freedom!!

    1. Great minds, Rachel! :-) I'm glad your chickens are getting freedom. I hate to see chickens all "cooped up" 24 hours a day. (Pun intended)

  2. Love this idea, but I do wander? how do you keep your girls free from predators during their free range time???

    I have mine in a fenced in are during the day when we are not home, and free when we are...but we have had a halwk come in and take one while we were not around! so sad to lose them :(

    so i do wander how free range works with that???

    4Clemons at gmail dot com

    1. Melissa, thank you for the comment!

      We lost a chicken to a red fox when we first brought the chickens outside. After that, we started locking them up at night in their coop, but we started to get lax with that again. They have been able to come and go from their coop as they please and we havent had any problems since. We wonder if it's because our pup has marked the area pretty well. :-)

      We are going away for a week and a half and having someone come to check on them every few days. I hope I'm not jinxing myself! :-)