- Henely Hatchery
Going to start a hatchery in a few years. - Page 2
Bantams are not going to make money. Bantam breeders keep them for fun and showing. If you show a lot and have really good results, you can command a good price - for a few birds, but there is not much market for bantams in bulk quantities. People aren't using them for egg production, and certainly not for meat production. That leaves the pet market, and the number of people who are allowed to have chickens and want bantams is far less than the number of customers you will need to sustain a business.
I know about this first hand because I hatch and sell locally. For every person looking for a bantam (always cochins or silkies) there were 50 looking for LF laying pullet chicks. I have both bantam cochins and silkies, but did not hatch any all of last year, it was simply not worth it, I can make more money in much less time with LF. And the few people that contacted me asking to have chicks shipped? Zero wanted bantams. If you don't need to care about turning a profit and are counting your labor as free, then go with whatever you like, bantams or LF, but if you want to have any chance of making money, skip them (and all specialty fowl - ducks, gamebirds, turkeys, quail) and focus on a few really popular LF breeds.
As said the market for bantams is limited, and although they take up less space I'm betting the return on profit per square foot of space will be higher with standards...
And when I say 'rare' I don't necessarily mean top dollar expensive breeds just ones you don't see to often at the big hatcheries or ones that big hatcheries charge stupid prices for...
it's a bit like growing parsley for the vegetable market, bantams are the mascots of a chicken flock rather than the main components. I've got a bantam rooster who keeps the hens happy enough when I can't let out my full size terrorist rooster, and some other special smaller size chooks, but it's really just the one bantam.
Ideal Poultry has more bantams than any other hatchery, and they're "the largest supplier of backyard poultry in the USA".
However, they regularly have sales where they are practically begging (an email daily or twice a day to subscribers) people to buy bantams at prices as low as $1.30 each.
So, it seems to me that an up and comer would have a hard time competing with them. They're already established. They have a ton of varieties. They have insanely low prices.
I think you'd have to offer something that isn't being offered. For example, I never see showgirl silkies at hatcheries, or frizzled silkies, or tiny seramas.
I'd order from a hatchery that offered those. You can also differentiate yourself in other ways... using artificial lighting/heating, etc. to trick birds into thinking the season is one it is not, and thus you might be able to offer things like turkey poults in the winter, etc.
I don't think I could run a hatchery because inherently you're going to be left with a huge surplus of male chicks, or just chicks in general, and your only option is to kill them.