Cut Costs, Go Green, Feed Your Flock: Sustainable Chicken Feed Solutions

May 29, 2024

This article by HealthyFarm explores cost-effective and sustainable alternatives to traditional chicken feed. With feed costs accounting for up to 80% of production costs, these alternatives can significantly benefit farmers. Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae and earthworms are two promising options. Both can be raised on-farm using organic waste materials, reducing reliance on external feed sources and minimizing waste. BSF larvae offer additional environmental benefits by breaking down waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Earthworms improve soil health through aeration and nutrient cycling. Overall, these alternative feeds can lower costs, promote sustainability, and contribute to a more humane farming system.

Profitability is a major concern for farmers, and feed costs often represent a significant portion of their expenses. HealthyFarm's cost analysis reveals that several factors affect the production cost per egg in both free-range and caged farms, with feed being the most significant contributor. In fact, feed costs can account for a staggering 80% of total investment costs. This high cost can be a major barrier for farmers who want to transition to humane farming practices, often perceived as more expensive than conventional caged farming.

The good news is that sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chicken feed are emerging. These options can significantly reduce costs for farmers while promoting a more responsible and humane approach to poultry farming. One exciting trend gaining traction worldwide is the use of insects and worms as protein sources in chicken feed. Two particularly promising options are black soldier flies (BSF) and earthworms.

Black Soldier Flies (BSF)

Photo credit:

What Is It? Black soldier flies (BSF), scientifically known as Hermetia illucens, are beneficial insects gaining traction in the agricultural world. Black soldier flies are not harmful to humans or animals. They are fast-growing insects that thrive on organic waste, making them excellent decomposers. But their larvae hold a hidden treasure for poultry farmers – they are a protein-rich source of nutrition for chickens.

How to raise BSF on your own farm?


Photo credit:

What Is It?

Earthworms are segmented invertebrates that live in soil. They are not insects but belong to a different phylum called Annelida. These segmented invertebrates are well known for their role in improving soil health. But surprisingly, they are also a valuable source of protein and beneficial fats for chickens.

How to raise earthworms on your own farm?

Why Should You Use Alternative Feed For Chickens?

Photo: BSF larvae are fed for chicken and its set-up at CAS farm, a HealthyFarm’s partner

Both black soldier flies (BSF) and earthworms offer significant advantages for farmers looking to reduce costs, promote sustainability, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly farming system.


Sustainable Feed Source

Environmentally Friendly:


Alternative chicken feeds like BSF larvae and earthworms offer a win-win for farmers. They reduce feed costs, promote humane practices through sustainable protein sources, and minimize reliance on external resources. While initial setup requires investment, the long-term economic and environmental benefits make them a compelling choice for forward-thinking farmers seeking a balance between profitability, sustainability, and ethical animal treatment.