What does it cost to feed the farm?

People often ask me what it costs to maintain & feed 29 chickens, 7 ducks, 5 goats, 1 pet pig and 1 donkey. Let me show you.

I am the saver between myself & my husband. He lovingly calls me ‘the dragon’ as I tend to be very frugal with most things. So I like to know the numbers {even though I’m terrible at advanced math} and where things stand all of the time. Providing for animals is no different. Here are our monthly costs to feed all those mouths:

• Hay: I choose to feed the donkey & goats an 80/20 mixed bale of orchard grass/alfalfa. It costs $21.99/bale and we go through roughly 4-5 bales a month. There are cheaper options out there, but based on donkey/male goat health reasons this is what I choose. Monthly cost: $86.96.

•Grain: I only feed grain to the goats when they are being milked or when they are on the milk stand getting their hooves trimmed {which I do +/- once a month as needed}. We use less than one 50 lb. bag a month at $13.50 a bag…lets call the monthly cost $10.13.

•Chicken & Duck Feed: Again, there are cheaper options out there, but as I am a firm believer of ‘you are what your food eats’ and I opt for premium non-gmo, made with organic ingredients {although not certified organic}, soy & corn free feed. I buy this in bulk and get a discount, we use roughly 4 bags a month, at $16.50 for a 40 lb. bag. Monthly cost: $66.00.

•Pet Pig: being a miniature breed, I do feed specialty pig feed that has a lower protein ratio, higher fiber ratio. We use roughly 1 bag a month at $14.99 a bag. Monthly cost: $14.99.

 Add that all up and the cost to feed those 43 farm animals is $178.08 a month. Or $4.14 a month per animal.

 

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What part of a feed run looks like.  I typically buy 500 lbs. at a time.  I use my husbands truck to pick up hay because hay in a car is a terrible idea…ask me how I know.

Some months might be a little higher, some months might be a little lower- it just depends on what kind of scraps, garden produce, and if the pasture grass is growing {yes in the winter/spring, no in the summer/fall} for them to forage.

Meat pig costs are a whole other story for another day.  Aside from monthly feed costs, maybe the biggest expense comes from your infrastructure- shelters. We were lucky that our barn and a lot of the fencing was here when we moved in, but we have added fencing, a chicken coop, a duck house, a goat/pig house and a garden.  If you do your homework you will find that some of these expenses can be filed as a write off on a Farm Schedule K come tax time…and that helps with those bigger expenses.  You can build them as inexpensively or expensively as you like depending on what you have on hand.

The great news? Our farm pays for itself.  Between selling eggs, our weekend farm stand and selling my handmade goat milk soap on Etsy we are able to make enough to cover the monthly feed costs, and sometimes more to put towards farm related repairs, farrier or vet calls, equipment, new garden seeds or purchasing new animals. Not to mention that almost all of our veggies & herbs come straight from the garden, we always have our own eggs & meat and now the goats are also providing us with milk. Sustainability feels good!

Don’t get me wrong, it does take a lot of hard work to have a self sustaining farm. However, being the frugal one, it feels so much better to know that financially it pays for itself.

 

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Work hard, nap hard.

And it’s not all about money…having faces like this to play and cuddle with are a great bonus too.

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Charli- 5 weeks old

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