I might as well feed them dollar bills

The price of rabbit and chicken feed is rising. A LOT. The drought conditions that affected the MidWest’s corn crop in the summer of 2012 have been trickling through the rest of the feed supply. If there is less corn, then what there is costs more than it did previously. And those who purchase corn to make something else (like livestock feed) have to charge more for the feed to make their own books balance. Which leaves me holding the bag. Literally.

I used to be able to get chicken and rabbit feeds at 16 and 17 dollars per 50 lb bag, respectively. Now it’s 18 and 21 dollars per 50 lb bag. Yep, chicken feed costs $2 more and rabbit feed costs $4 more.

I can find rabbit food at only $3 more, but it is 11 miles away (round trip), which is about half a gallon of gas. With gas at $3.49 per gallon, I’d spend more going to get the feed than I’d save at the cheaper prices. However, when I have to go that way for another purpose, I stock up with whatever I can afford to get.

I have not yet seen an increase in cat or dog food. The cats are currently eating Wellness brand bagged food. I don’t believe it contains corn. But it does contain chicken, and since the cost of chicken feed is up… then the cost of chicken is up. Or if it isn’t up yet, it will be soon! Which means we can expect pet foods to increase in cost, too. I’m currently cooking natural foods for my dog (she’s having some itchy issues), but foods from the grocery store are obviously subject to the same supply chain issues as livestock feeds. Costs are increasing there, too.

I’ve heard people joke that heat costs so much that they may as well burn dollar bills. Well, the costs of feed are going up so much that I might as well feed my animals dollar bills!

Of course we do things to minimize costs. The chickens get our leftovers. They love oatmeal, spaghetti, and random pieces of meat and veggies. It feels good to not throw away leftovers, especially when they’d have to be thrown in the trash instead of the compost. (Chickens can eat meats and fats that the compost pile can’t handle.) Some creativity helps, too – we went to the movies the other day, and bought a large popcorn. So when we left, I used the free refill to have it filled for the chickens! Might as well, since I paid for the privilege of a free refill and the chickens do well with a meal of popped corn.

For the rabbits, I harvest grass and weeds from the yard, and I occasionally receive stale bread from restaurants. Plus the food pantry where I volunteer sometimes receives vegetable donations that are not fit for human consumption. I try to give the rabbits at least one completely free meal each week. It really cuts down on the costs of feeding them. I’m glad I have a very overgrown yard – rabbits love grass and grape leaves.

With the cats, the only cost saving measure I have come up with is to feed real food as treats instead of buying those expensive little foil pouches of cat treats. They already get bagged food instead of canned food, and I just don’t have a well-researched recipe for home prepared food for cats. I wouldn’t lower the quality of the food I feed my pets any more than I’d lower the quality of the food I feed my human family.

I am enjoying cooking for my dog, and it is indeed cheaper than buying the high quality bagged for her. Only a few dollars cheaper, but every bit helps. I’m doing it because she’s itchy right now and one possible culprit is the food she’s been eating. But now that I have my pressure canner it’s EASY to store homecooked food for her, so we’ll see how long I can keep it up. She absolutely LOVES her homecooked food, and she’s doing great on it.

So maybe I can keep food prices for my animals low enough that I feel like I’m feeding them coins instead of dollar bills. It sounds better, anyway!

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