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Chicken Economics

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm in the last semester of my highschool senior year and want to start a chicken project for me and, in the future, my little brothers to enjoy and profit from.  We have had random breeds of egglaying chickens just for our egg use for the last 6 or so years but I want to move on to something better.  I want to build a new coop for my special breed and be able to break even and make a profit from selling chicks, hatching eggs, and maybe eating eggs.  Is this a realistic thing to do on the small scale?  I would start the project and when I graduate my younger brothers would be responsible for it during the week.
I picked Giant Golden Laced Cochins as my project breed as I love their temperment and looks and I think there is a breeder of SQ ones a couple hours from me.  I hope to get 8-10 chicks from them in the spring and I am hoping to pay around $3 a chick.  I am going to build the coop and run from recycled scrap so it shouldn't cost more than $30 for some more wire.  Feed would cost $11 a 50lb bag so how many bags do you think they would eat before they start to lay?  I am thinking on selling hatching eggs starting at $12 a dozen till I see if I find a market and then maybe raise the price.  Chicks I would sell for $3-5 depending on the season.  So from those numbers how much would it cost to start up and how long would you expect it to be till I break even and start turning a profit?  Is there anyone who started out this way and can give any tips or insight as to what I might be missing in my calculations?  I might show some of the birds with 4-H so I'll be working on improving on the breed.  Thanks!

Fainting goats, cayuga ducks, assorted chickens, and 2 labs.  It's a full house.

Check out my website for braided horse hair jewlry turningtails.weebly.com

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Fainting goats, cayuga ducks, assorted chickens, and 2 labs.  It's a full house.

Check out my website for braided horse hair jewlry turningtails.weebly.com

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post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 

Did I put this in the right section?

Fainting goats, cayuga ducks, assorted chickens, and 2 labs.  It's a full house.

Check out my website for braided horse hair jewlry turningtails.weebly.com

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Fainting goats, cayuga ducks, assorted chickens, and 2 labs.  It's a full house.

Check out my website for braided horse hair jewlry turningtails.weebly.com

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post #3 of 28

i am a freshman in high school and have done what you are planing on doing. i would say 10 chicks would eat about a bag of feed a month until they start to lay. if i were you i would stay away from hatching unless you have done it before and are prepared for deaths and ones that dont make it. it would be best if you order from an online hatchery and bought all hens then sold them on craigslist for more than what you paid for them. but selling pure hatching eggs is a good way to make some money on chickens. it has taken me about a year to break on 50 birds it may take you shorter time. chickens dont make you a lot of money so if you are wanting to make a lot on of money chickens are not the right thing. i hope someone else posts something to because this is just me and there are people out there that may have better info. i hope that this helps a little. where are you located?

post #4 of 28

Glad you posted your question.

You'd learn a lot in raising chickens and you'd have a huge, daily responsibility to feed, water, and care for them.  You might want a partner for those days when your busy life interrupts.  There is no break.  No days off, and no being gone for a week.

As for making a profit, NO WAY.  You'll likely operate at a loss.  Between preparing a coop, a run, equipment, roosts, water and feed equipment, buying the chicks and feed, you way, way, way behind before you start.  Chicken hardly lay efficiently enough to cover their feed costs.

If you could get, in 6 months, a dollar "profit" per dozen, you'd have to charge $3.50 a dozen.  14 good laying hens will lay 12 dozen a week, so that would be $12 a week.  Your labor would be donated. smile   How many weeks would take to pay back your start up costs?  A year?

At $2.50 a dozen, you'll never catch up financially.   Selling fertile eggs returns a bit higher return, but still.  The business plan here isn't too sunny.  You got to do this primarily because you enjoy it.

 

 

Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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post #5 of 28

For a little profit, you may want to consider meat birds. Cages are cheap to build and they can stay in an existing garage or barn. Be sure there is a processor nearby however. My last batch cost me 7.84 each including butchering and I had no trouble selling them for more than that.

post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rentmecheap 

For a little profit, you may want to consider meat birds. Cages are cheap to build and they can stay in an existing garage or barn. Be sure there is a processor nearby however. My last batch cost me 7.84 each including butchering and I had no trouble selling them for more than that.


I don't want to hijack the thread, but what did you sell them for? I would have made $.16 a bird at that cost when I sold my last batch.

It's pretty simple...having chickens is work, but lots of fun.

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It's pretty simple...having chickens is work, but lots of fun.

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post #7 of 28

Exactly, raise out Point of Lay pullets?  Make maybe, maybe a buck a pullet.

Meat birds?  ditto.

Feed costs and small scale is what prevents meaningful profits.  If a HUGE operation can muster a buck a bird, they likely sell 10's of 1000's of bird to make any money.  Margins of profit are very small, so it takes incredible volume to make folding money of any note.  Small operators?  It's just pocket change.

Again, it is a great experience, but small flock operations are simply not scaled for meaningful profits. Costs are far too high, margins too thin, and volume too small.

 

 

Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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post #8 of 28

2.25 a pound. I feed turkey feed so they get big, yes mortality rate is higer, but I had 2 of the last batch dress out just over 8 pounds in 9 weeks. The smallest was just over 5 pounds.

post #9 of 28

I disagree with those who say you can't turn a profit.  I was lucky enough to get a coop for free off Freecycle.  I recycled materials to make their feeder and waterer (see my BYC page).  I feed kitchen scraps and they free-range my small backyard to supplement their feed (which obviously works better in summer than winter wink.)  I bake and repurpose their eggshells for added calcium (offered free choice - I did buy some oyster shell at one time but they won't touch it.  Luckily I've since learned it can be used in the vegie garden to increase tomato production so it won't have completely gone to waste).  My only ongoing expense now is the feed.  Last summer I went through a 50lb bag in about a month, with 8 laying hens.  I got 5-7 eggs a day and sold the excess for $2.50/doz.  I kept track of my expenses on Steve's Chicken Tracker and turned a profit over the entire year of 2010 of $2.88 per month (averaged out over the year, which wasn't bad as at the beginning of the year I had 0 layers - the pullets didn't start laying until Feb).  In addition to that, my family ate all the eggs they wanted for free.  Now, I realize you are looking to make more of a profit than $3/month - my goal was only that they pay for themselves, which they did.  But I wouldn't say it is a given that you will lose money.

Also, to answer your question about how much it costs to raise a chick up to laying age, I calculated on my tracker that it cost $9.37 to raise a chick from day old to laying age.  That will vary according to how much you pay for feed but it gives you a ballpark.

Enjoying my 10-acres in the country with 50+ chickens, turkeys and muscovy ducks!  Blog is here.

 

Read about my fox attack here

A fox attack survival story

My hoop house

Should I add supplemental heat?

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Enjoying my 10-acres in the country with 50+ chickens, turkeys and muscovy ducks!  Blog is here.

 

Read about my fox attack here

A fox attack survival story

My hoop house

Should I add supplemental heat?

Reply
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HEChicken 

I disagree with those who say you can't turn a profit.  I was lucky enough to get a coop for free off Freecycle.  I recycled materials to make their feeder and waterer (see my BYC page).  I feed kitchen scraps and they free-range my small backyard to supplement their feed (which obviously works better in summer than winter wink.)  I bake and repurpose their eggshells for added calcium (offered free choice - I did buy some oyster shell at one time but they won't touch it.  Luckily I've since learned it can be used in the vegie garden to increase tomato production so it won't have completely gone to waste).  My only ongoing expense now is the feed.  Last summer I went through a 50lb bag in about a month, with 8 laying hens.  I got 5-7 eggs a day and sold the excess for $2.50/doz.  I kept track of my expenses on Steve's Chicken Tracker and turned a profit over the entire year of 2010 of $2.88 per month (averaged out over the year, which wasn't bad as at the beginning of the year I had 0 layers - the pullets didn't start laying until Feb).  In addition to that, my family ate all the eggs they wanted for free.  Now, I realize you are looking to make more of a profit than $3/month - my goal was only that they pay for themselves, which they did.  But I wouldn't say it is a given that you will lose money.

Also, to answer your question about how much it costs to raise a chick up to laying age, I calculated on my tracker that it cost $9.37 to raise a chick from day old to laying age.  That will vary according to how much you pay for feed but it gives you a ballpark.


Yes, of course, that result is above typical of a backyard keeper of a small flock and who manages it as well as you have.  Kudos.


Nonetheless, $2.88 a month profit?    You are right.  The OP is likely looking for better numbers.  Even multiplied  x 10 or 80 layers, using your profit level, the result would be $28.80 a month.   Lot's of labor for those wages.   Got a sneaking suspicion the OP envisions the possibility of something more. big_smile

 

 

Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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