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Can you MAKE MONEY with chickens? - Page 10

post #91 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoneunhenged 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ncarper 

The OP was asking if it was possible to make enough money selling eggs to break even or even a little better.  He/she was not asking about starting a sole business selling eggs as career type business.  If you want to farm "Joel Salatin style" then I would absolutely agree that it is necessary to include labor, land, taxes, and even farm infrastructure.  If you want to break even or maybe even make a few bucks from selling eggs from your flock I don't see how you could reasonably include labor, land and taxes in your figuring.

Since you, do however, feel that you must include these factors in your cost, I'll ask for the benefit of all for you to clarify.  How much should one value their labor (time)? Do we use the rate the corporate producers pay?  Do you value your time as the CEO or laborer or both since you do it all?  What about land and taxes?  Do prorate this amount based on what you originally paid for the land (even if the land wasn't bought for this purpose) by the amount used for egg production?  What about depriciation for usage? How do factor this into your "real costs"?


I don't want to get too hung up on the accounting question.  People correctly point out that they've already purchased their backyards, so why would you impute that cost to raising chickens in the backyard?  That's a good point.  My bias is to err on the side of strict fiscal accounting so that folks don't fool themselves into believing they're making money when, in fact, the opposite is true.  The truth is very few backyard poultry breeders have any idea whether they're making money, breaking even, or sucking wind. 

I would respectfully suggest that a true accounting, and a clear profit motive, is important for two reasons.

First, I think the more important question is that after the accounting is done, did your profit yield a reasonable return for your labor and risk?  Maybe some people consider it fun to muck out a chicken pen, but I'm at the stage of my life where I wouldn't mind getting some payment for that extremely pleasurable activity. 

Second, if you actually have a business plan and a legitimate business motive, suddenly your hobby is transformed into a business and all those expenses become tax deductible.  So, if you're in the 25% federal income tax bracket, that $1,000 of chicken feed will only cost you $750 after you take your tax deduction.  Not bad, right? 

Let me close by saying that the vast majority of backyard poultry hobbyists are just that:  hobbyists.  They don't care about a profit, and that's fine.  But, the poultry world is large, America is a free country, and people should be allowed to pursue a profit if they have the brains and initiative to make it a reality.


Fair enough.  I guess I'd answer the OP by saying, "It depends" and leave it at that.  My chickens have paid for themselves and then some - a very little "some".  But my experience is just that my experience and what works for some may not work for others.

post #92 of 123

Yes, you can make money raising chickens. You can make money raising fruit flies, or making bird diapers, or coming up with a bumper sticker everyone thinks is clever. In short, you can make money doing anything if you put enough time, effort, and money into it in the first place. Just like with any business venture, not everyone is going to make it: they may not have the market, they may not know how to turn a dime into a quarter, or they may not have the time and resources to get started in the first place.

If you do, have at it. If you don't, enjoy your birds and be thankful that they are giving you at least some return smile

As for birds being underpriced in America - they aren't.

Out here, birds are fairly cheap, as are eggs. We'll go with my low prices as an example.

Being wild, we'll say a laying hen will eat three bags of feed a year. I think that's a bit high, but we'll go with it. Three bags of feed at $10/bag comes to $30. I pay $8/bag for my feed and my birds free range (cutting the bill in half over the summer), but again, we're going to set the expenses high for this example. That hen will lay, at a rough average, around 250 eggs/year as a layer. At $3/dozen she has made $62/year - a $32 profit.

A flock of a dozen hens would then make a person around $384/year as a profit. And when you decide to get rid of those birds at 18 months for $10, you have made a total profit of around $500.

With that $500, you can turn around and buy another flock of a dozen pullet chicks for, what? $24?

And we can make this more lucrative. We can set hatching eggs at a piddly $10/dozen. Now each hen is making $200 and a flock of a dozen is grossing $2,400 annually. Turn around and sell them for $10 apiece and make the $120 necessary to buy your chicks and grower feed for the next year.

Sure, rare breeds or fancy colors will cost more. But let's not forget that chickens are livestock. We can have the fancy ornamental stuff that doesn't really lay, but most of the people out there get poultry for eggs and meat. Just like most people who get dogs get them as inexpensive companions. The people who spend the money are the ones who want the fancy/rare stuff and want to make a dollar.

There is a very fine line between wanting to charge a fortune for birds and wanting them to be popular. If I sell my chicks at $8 apiece then I will lose out on the 90% of farmers in my area that are wanting $1-2 chicks because all they want are eggs. They don't care if the birds are pretty, rare, or have a pedigree that dates back to the days of Rome. They just want eggs, meat, and something crowing out in the backyard.

We would do well not to forget that. If birds become expensive, eggs are no longer an inexpensive meal and chicken becomes on par with lobster.

So charge a fortune for the rare stuff - with all of the importing fees and the money/time/space to build show quality birds, they are worth it. But hatchery stock birds should remain the cheap "throw away" birds they currently are. Let people get into birds without breaking the bank and then learn about them. Once they get addicted they can do what all of us did: start spending every paycheck on getting the best (prettiest) of the best and drooling over $100/dozen hatching eggs.

Raising American Buff and Pilgrim Geese, Ancona, Harlequin, Rouen, Campbell, Saxony, and Buff ducks, Muscovies, Rosecomb Barred Rock, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, Wheaten/Blue Ameraucana, and Red Ameraucana chickens, Blue/Royal Palm and Blue Slate turkeys, Jumbo Coturnix quail, Jumbo Ringneck Pheasants, Redclaw Lobsters, Blue Tilapia, and an assortment of show rabbits. Hatching eggs available.
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Raising American Buff and Pilgrim Geese, Ancona, Harlequin, Rouen, Campbell, Saxony, and Buff ducks, Muscovies, Rosecomb Barred Rock, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, Wheaten/Blue Ameraucana, and Red Ameraucana chickens, Blue/Royal Palm and Blue Slate turkeys, Jumbo Coturnix quail, Jumbo Ringneck Pheasants, Redclaw Lobsters, Blue Tilapia, and an assortment of show rabbits. Hatching eggs available.
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post #93 of 123

Most true hobbyists or breeders that I have known try to make enough money for feed, etc.  They arent looking for a profit margin.  They are raising the birds for the intrinsic value of making them better.  They never sell eggs or chicks.  They spend lots of money to grow birds out because they would never want to sell or let anyone have any bird that had their name on it that they didnt approve of.  Sure they may charge $50 a bird for grown birds but you know you were getting quality and that you wouldnt see there culls at the flea market or sold for a minimal price.  Different mentality, different generation of people I suppose.  Worrying about the bottom line and profit margin smacks of a hatchery, a business mentality. 
My own interest in raising chickens is the same as these people I have grown up knowing.  I want to improve the breeds I am interested in.  I want to sell enough to pay for the feed and costs of my birds.  If I make a profit along the way, so be it.  Is it my ultimate goal? no.  Am I independantly wealthy? No, I am public school teacher who enjoys being around chickens. 
Just my musings and opinions.  Each person has there own mentality and none of those are incorrect.

Ignorance is a choice.


Silver Penciled, White, Black, Golden Laced, Dun, White Laced Red, Blue Laced Red and Buff Wyandotte Bantams.
LF Buff and Black Wyandottes

SC and RC Black Minorcas

LF Silver Spangled Hamburgs

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Ignorance is a choice.


Silver Penciled, White, Black, Golden Laced, Dun, White Laced Red, Blue Laced Red and Buff Wyandotte Bantams.
LF Buff and Black Wyandottes

SC and RC Black Minorcas

LF Silver Spangled Hamburgs

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post #94 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boggy Bottom Bantams 
Quote:
Originally Posted by awesomefowl 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eatmorechicken 

What about raising long hackle breeds for fly tying. I have seen hackles  sold for $100 each. the whole bird probably made $200.    I think it would be really difficult to make money from eggs and meat production alone.  You just can't compete with commercial farms. Perhaps  free range organic eggs and meat could be sold for double the price of grocery store products.  But those niche markets would be hard to reach. However, we have a natural foods store that sells local eggs for $4 a dozen, and they sell out fast.  Other than that I would believe you would need to develop/acquire a breed that appeals to the richer part of the poultry hobby community.   I'm currently developing a breed that lays golden eggs;)


GOLDEN EGGS? What?
Where could you tap into the fly-tying industry?


Ebay


Forget ebay and start your own website with pics and prices and develop a name for yourself. Develop a relationship with small fly clubs and distributors.

"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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post #95 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoneunhenged 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gallusfarm 

It takes a lot of work though, and it depends on the local market.  Most folks just want eggs, they are not educated on chicken breeds and what the SOP calls for.   Heck, most of the time they don't even know the name of the breed they are interested in  (my experience).


Thanks for the nice comments.  And, I agree with you:  Most chicken buyers just want eggs.  And, those buyers can go to Tractor Supply and buy their Super Red Bottle Rockets or whatever hybrid is being sold this year for $3 and they'll be happy.  But, the problem is that the guy who has spent ten years breeding perfect Dominques is selling his chicks for the same amount as Super Red Bottle Rockets and he's getting killed by the costs. 

We need to wake up to the fact that there is a large and growing group of people out there who primarily buy chickens because they are beautiful, entertaining, and rare and only secondarily care about egg production.  In other words, they're buying pets, not livestock.  (That why the hatchery is called My Pet Chicken, not My Nameless Livestock.)  And yet, breeders are pricing their birds in this category as if their only value is egg production.  That is the issue.


We went thru something like this with Fancy Rats.  There was a time I could list a fancy rat (a species that doesnt even provide meat/eggs for people and that lived an average of 2 yrs only) for $150 and I'd have people fighting over the right to buy it from me.  and the price of imported rats was astronomical!

Over a decade ago, I thought that, and I pushed for (as president of a then influential rat organisation) that we needed to be more like the dog/cat fancies if we wanted the species and hobby to get more respect.  I hand-coded (perl/for online) the first pedigree registry for them even; encouraged placement of pets with higher prices, with "adoption agreements" and "transfers" for registrations, and fashioned the shows after those for cats (Supreme Grand Champion rats!) etc etc.

The corruption, the hostility, the backstabbing, etc.... Maybe i should have expected it, but I'm not good with social stuff like that (I was diagnosed autistic when I was younger; I still am, but more functional now).  What I saw as the result of this attempt to "elevate" the species was that the commercial-minded breeders- (who put money and their personal glory first, before that of the fancy in general of that of the long term welfare of the species population), those breeders had their status elevated.  The rats themselves were really no better off.  IMHO, the whole effort HURT the fancy and the species, not helped it.

I'm now working with a group of fanciers who have been through the before/after as i have (but don't necessarily carry the guilt I carry about it, because they didn't code the pedigree registry, they weren't club officers advocating for that stuff etc), in establishing local clubs that are supportive and offer advice but are non-competitive.  We still work towards a guide standard, but we do it together and a group effort, rather than as a competitive event.  Working as a group there's less reason for people to cheat or lie or back stab certain people or kiss up to others etc etc.

I charge money only to new comers getting their first pets- a pet fancier that stays in touch with me and keeps me up to date on the long term health of the animals and eventual cause of death- important info for breeding for healthier lines- those people, I am Often place additional animals for FREE.  To other breeders whose goals are about the animals, and not about making a profit or winning as many ribbons as possible, I give them animals for FREE.  And GOOD animals, for breeding stock, not culls!  I'd much rather give my best breedign quality animal to a DEDICATED fancier for free, than to  sell them for a significant amount of money to someone who looks at the animals as a commercial venture

I started in the rat fancy when it was in a state that you guys are lamenting about chickens being right now; I had a hand in making the fancy more "exclusive" and unintentionally, more corrupt,.  I then completely changed, going to a more anarchic way of operating.... it is this last way that I see as being not just the least stressful, but  as having most beneficial work being done on the species by people that really get it and care- I see the most progress being made now, more so than ever

Alan

Gardening, Poultry and Sheep http://fithfath.com/farm

6th Happiness Rodentry http://rodentfancy.com

In the Far West Chicago Suburbs

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Alan

Gardening, Poultry and Sheep http://fithfath.com/farm

6th Happiness Rodentry http://rodentfancy.com

In the Far West Chicago Suburbs

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post #96 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by WyandotteTX 

Most true hobbyists or breeders that I have known try to make enough money for feed, etc.  They arent looking for a profit margin.  They are raising the birds for the intrinsic value of making them better......  Different mentality, different generation of people I suppose.  Worrying about the bottom line and profit margin smacks of a hatchery, a business mentality.  .


x2

Do you want to be a hatchery, or a fancier?

Or if this was another pet species (as many here do look at their chickens as pets)... do you want to be a mill, a buncher, a back yard breeder etc etc or a responsible breeder?

Or if this was another livestock species (since chickens are livestock to many people).... do you want to be a conventional type with overcrowded filthy cages.... or a humane operation that provides plenty of space, and access to the outdoors etc etc....

Do you put the money first, or the animals first (both as individuals and as a population)?

Recouping expenses is one thing... and I think that's pretty easy and the "norm" with chickens thanks to their laying eggs (and providing meat if you so wish to eat the culls).  Making a *profit* though- making even a *living* off it is something entirely different

Alan

Gardening, Poultry and Sheep http://fithfath.com/farm

6th Happiness Rodentry http://rodentfancy.com

In the Far West Chicago Suburbs

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Alan

Gardening, Poultry and Sheep http://fithfath.com/farm

6th Happiness Rodentry http://rodentfancy.com

In the Far West Chicago Suburbs

Reply
post #97 of 123

Why not turn a profit from your werks? Why not turn your hobby into cash sales?Why not get some bling bling from your bok bok?

This year we focused on "meat" birds.We are going to sell chicks,but we will have meat chickens,meat ducks, meat guineas, and meat quail.We got alot of one of popular breeds for around these parts( leghorns,buff orp,barred rock,sex links..etc etc..But now we will have dark cornish bulldog,muscovy ducks,guinea,coturnix quail,and soon bronze turkeys.we are going to change the turkeys to Narragansetts because of breeding and brooding factors.we do have "cash" birds like silkies and bantams.but if you see a need,fill a need and you will get at least some back for your efforts.It takes time,patience,and work,but it does happen.

There once was a man from Rock Hill

Who had taken his Depakote pill

He stayed fast asleep

Not one sound, noise, or peep

And had no worries, none zilch and nil.

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There once was a man from Rock Hill

Who had taken his Depakote pill

He stayed fast asleep

Not one sound, noise, or peep

And had no worries, none zilch and nil.

Reply
post #98 of 123

Right on Stone!

We need to track our costs, and to work on improving the production of our birds, if its a hobby thats fine if you want to write off the costs that way, I supply eggs to the extended family and several friends so breaking even on eggs probably wont happen, BUT, I am planning on spending considerable this year on my main breeds, plus building a LOT of coops to keep pairs and trios in, so its definitly a budgeting thing, I am hoping next year to do some showing, that takes high quality birds.

I am tracking eggs from my hens, and will continue to, a LOT of time goes into them, I doubt if I am ever going to make this self supporting, but would love for it to break even. Mostly from some egg sales, hatching eggs and chicks or occasional pairs or trios. Meat in the freezer is another family beni. One breed I wont be selling eggs or stock from, its new and the idea is to get folks started with them, so thats how it will be . Another project for the others to support. 

I am sometime this year going to add a small number of Partidge Wyandottes, and OEGBs to winter over, so lots of expansion costs. I'll be poor but will eat well, and hopefully in a year or three be selling some stock to break even with, if I can, I'll be happy.

Thats the bottom line for me, to be content with what I have and to be able to do it.


Edited by Jake Levi - 3/10/11 at 6:35am
Icelandics,brought to Iceland by Vikings in the 9th century, winterhardy, freeranging, an ancient homestead breed that broods, a steady producer of white eggs.Very variable in color,  comb style  and feathering. Like Forest Gumps box of Chocolates, 'You never know what you are going to get". Heritage Homestead Chicken by 1,000 years of survival selection !
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Icelandics,brought to Iceland by Vikings in the 9th century, winterhardy, freeranging, an ancient homestead breed that broods, a steady producer of white eggs.Very variable in color,  comb style  and feathering. Like Forest Gumps box of Chocolates, 'You never know what you are going to get". Heritage Homestead Chicken by 1,000 years of survival selection !
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post #99 of 123

most hobbyist do not keep good records much less make a profit or know what a profit margin is . Hatcheries have to make a profit if they do not they go out of business if hobbyists actually kept decent records and realized what the chickens were costing them electricity water med,s feed upkeep on pens pest control etc then you have to pay yourself then you figure out what to charge for eggs/birds. I was taught to keep raising my price until they blinked LOL  this has been working good so far  Oh yea from 1968 -1976 I helped raise production broilers you have a much different mindset after working with them for just a little while LOL

http://www.scnaonline.org  Serama Council Of North America

You might as well expect rivers to run backwards as any man born free to be contented penned up.
Chief Joseph
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http://www.scnaonline.org  Serama Council Of North America

You might as well expect rivers to run backwards as any man born free to be contented penned up.
Chief Joseph
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post #100 of 123

I think the estimate of 3 bags of food per hen per year might be low, unless you are free ranging on high quality pasture.  Either that, or my silkies are out eating all the large fowl.

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