I bought my first 6 pullets a year ago. That turned into 10, then 20, and now I have 17 laying hens and 17, 3 month old chicks (about 8 of which are roosters, if not, more.) Chicken Math is a real thing. Anyway, I have been researching this as well. Wouldn't it be neat if we could all just quit our day jobs and raise chickens?? :) Though it IS possible, it is not very probable. A friend of mine worked out the math and figures she would have to have 1,000 laying hens in order to make a living with just chickens. That may or may not be true. Start up costs for that many birds would be very high, it would take a while to re-'coop' your costs. And can you imagine collecting that many eggs everyday? They would produce upwards of 800 eggs each DAY. In fact, start up costs for a small backyard flock is pretty high as it is:
Birds: $3 each as pullets or $15 each as laying age hens
Feed: $15-$30 per 50 lb bag
Oyster shell: $8
Treats, toys, perches, wood and fencing for an outdoor run area, etc.
My first year, I bought pullets. They will just be a financial drain your first year. Expect that. They START laying when the weather gets cold. Supplement light and they may lay more often, but if you live somewhere cold like I do, the eggs will freeze half the time and need to be discarded, or become fun frozen puppy treats. I have been tracking my "profits" from the birds. I averaged a loss of about $60 per month the first year. Now that it is summer time they are laying more often and I have slowly built up my customer base. I make one delivery per week and sell to family and friends as well. April I profited $34, May I had a loss of $8 and June I profited $12. This is egg sales - cost of feed, I did not include any of my hours for labor cost. But this also includes 1/2 a flock of young, non laying babies. I sell my eggs for $3/dozen and re-use cartons that people save for me. My birds are not on organic feed and a 50 lbs bag costs me $15 to $17.
Lot's of random numbers up there. All the advice I have been given, everyone says "don't quit your day job". It's a fun hobby, but it doesn't pay the bills. If you're interested in farming, add a variety and figure out what sells the best. Or if you are just interested in chickens, hatch and sell chicks, sell feathers when they molt, sell their poop as fertilizer-it's actually one of the best fertilizers you can get. Think about adding meat birds, sell hatching eggs, build and sell chicken tractors or poultry waterers (I made a few last fall and they sold pretty well). Save money where ever you can. Free range or pasture raise your laying hens. I feed about 1/3rd what I normally would when they were cooped up and in their run this winter. Now they find their own food and eat bugs and grass and stuff. We live on a very busy road and lots of wild life around our place but have not lost any to getting run over by a car or eaten by a predator (yet). They have been going out every day for about 3 months. It is definitely a risk, but they seem happier, and so does my wallet. Also, older hens and roosters are good for making soups. I hope that is not offensive, but if you are looking to make chicken raising into a business, the sad reality is that they get butchered when they drop in production. Saves you a little money on your grocery bills, so even though it may not be $ in your pocket, they do have a value you should take into account. If my family eats a dozen eggs I count that as $3 "income". If we eat a bird, that's $10 "income" or other value.
Hope that helps a little bit. If someone figures out how to make a living off raising chickens, I want to know too! :)