On our Facebook page I asked people what burning questions they had for us. One of the questions was what we feed our animals and what we spent per month on their feed. It’s a good question, especially for people looking to raise animals for food production. In addition they brought up the idea of dumpster diving to feed the animals. It’s definitely an interesting idea and could definitely work for some of the animals, but not all. Everything here will be estimates as I’m just starting to keep track of everyone’s feed separately (last year I just lumped all feed together).
First, what we feed our different critters. Nearly all of them right now get commercial feed. Except for the rabbit feed, all of the feed is certified organic. I’ve only been able to find one company that makes organic rabbit feed but I was really unhappy with the quality of the feed for the price so we went back to a conventional feed.
Our rabbits get a commercial rabbit feed from a local mill and orchard grass. They also get stuff from our garden and extra greens from the farmers’ market like cabbage leaves and carrot tops. Some of our rabbits will eat it up but not all. Our bucks in particular are uninterested in anything green. They go through one 80lb bag of feed a month which costs us about $24. The orchard grass is a lot less usually going through a flake every other week which can come to a bale maybe three times a year. Of course this can vary a lot though depending on how many rabbits we have.
The chickens also get commercial feed and garden waste, but they also get all of our kitchen scraps and oyster shell. Our twelve chickens go through a 50lb bag of feed every 3 weeks which also costs about $24. The oyster shell is $10 for 50lbs which will last us a year.
The turkeys also get chicken feed but no scraps or oystershell. They generally don’t want anything to do with kitchen scraps or yard waste. They are really good foragers though so they only go through a bag of feed every other month.
The goats have a much more specific diet because of milk production and their specific dietary requirements. While we have orchard grass we get fairly poor milk production when we feed it to them. Instead they get alfalfa, which has higher protein and calcium. When getting milked they get a dairy goat ration which provides them with additional protein and calcium along with trace minerals they need to stay healthy like copper, selenium, and vitamins. They go through one 50lb bag once a month which runs about $23. We also offer free fed loose minerals and baking soda for them to regulate their needs. The cost of this is negligible since it takes quite awhile for them to go through a 25lb bag. They do occasionally get garden treats as well. They go through one bale of alfalfa per month which can range between $16 and $25 per bale depending on the season and how the weather is acting. Most of this year the cost of alfalfa has been at the higher end because of our erratic weather.
In terms of dumpster diving I think the only animals that would truly benefit from it would be the chickens and the rabbits. I would want to keep the breeding rabbits on commercial feed but we could grow out the others on scraps. The chickens would still require oyster shell and supplemental commercial food, but it would reduce the cost greatly if we went dumpster diving for their feed.