No matter how much you plan, or how frugal you try to be, most of the time it takes experience and trying things before you can actually learn what will or won’t work when it comes to keeping animal feeding costs as low as possible. Lowering costs is one area that’s become really important for us, especially since at this time, we mostly produce food for ourselves and don’t make an income on it. We do sell eggs and a little milk on occasion, but if we’re lucky we just break even, so that mostly just helps offset costs for feeding the chickens.
This is our third year having animals through the winter. Winter time is always tough because our feed costs go up due to there not being as much grass for grazing. The very first year we had our goats, we only had two so we just bought hay as we needed it. Since we had bought them late in the season and we didn’t have a chance to locate anyone who had hay for sale, we bought most of it from the feed store. It worked ok because with only the two goats we didn’t go through a lot of it. The next year, our goat population exploded and we had eight goats to feed. At the time, we stocked up on hay as much as possible but ended up buying a lot of it as we went because they plowed through the hay faster than we thought. Buying it as we went was quite a bit more expensive than we had planned it would be. At one point we discussed buying a big round bale instead of the small square ones we were using. Our set up at the time made it difficult to use a big round bale because the spot we needed it placed would have been a little hard to get it into. Also, I just thought that small square bales seemed a lot easier for me to handle. Let’s just say, after last winter, we breathed a big sigh of relief once spring came, the grass started growing and we could finally quit buying hay.
This year, we decided to make some changes. First we downsized the number of goats we keep for the winter. Since our herd was smaller, we were able to fix a spot in the barn for them, rather than having them use a shelter up on the hill behind the barn. With this set up, it made it possible to buy a large round bale because we have a good spot to store it.
I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner. Once we got it placed, it turned out to be just as easy, if not easier, to handle than square bales. The hay just flakes off and we use a pitch fork to pick it up and put in the feeder. Not only that, but we bought this bale for quite a bit less than we bought a month supply of square bales last year. If only we’d done this last year, oh the money we would have saved! I’m pretty sure this bale will last us until spring, so we won’t have to buy more, which is a relief.
Best of all, its goat approved….
And of course, it makes the chickens happy. One big, bale with enough room for each to hide their eggs without having to bicker and squabble…
And hide their eggs, indeed they do!
This was shared on Freedom Fridays
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