The organic feed that we feed to our chickens is a significant part of our costs, so we have been searching for a way to control it. The price of commercial feed (mostly composed of corn and soy) has been on the rise for the past three years.
It sure would be great if we could grow our own feed grains. But the equipment required to do that is not available for hire in our area. Although chicken farms were once plentiful in New England, now they are mostly gone and so is the infrastructure for supporting them.
In fact, our kind of small-scale agriculture is so unusual in the United States that nobody here makes a combine harvester small enough to load on a trailer and drive from field to field (the way you have to in New England, where farm plots are relatively small and scattered). If we want to buy a small combine, our options are antiques or expensive imports.
Nobody knows whether grain prices will continue to rise. Many are predicting lower prices ahead. For now, we will keep buying from the feed store–at the mercy of the markets.