Originally Posted by bruceha2000
I have a different question than the others
Since you won't have these chickens for 1.5 years, you will be (minimally) 17.5 years old and maybe headed to college after your senior year summer. Do your PARENTS want chickens? Because they are the ones that will be dealing with them unless you live at home and go to college locally.
As to coops, the hoop coops are not very hard to build, the cattle panels are not real expensive and are easy to put up, minimal carpentry needed. Typically 50" by 16', Tractor Supply sells one for $13, another for $22 (stronger maybe?). I think the first one would suffice so for $100 you could have a coop and run area almost 17' in length. And they are easy to add on to when chicken math hits. Most are covered with tarps which are rolled up at the bottom in the summer for air flow but if you live somewhere warm, you might have it open at the bottom year round. There are still the expenses of 1/2" hardware cloth on the lower 2' and skirted out to keep digging predators out and the coop area has to be safe from predators like weasels that can easily wander through even a fairly small hole. Plus hardware for doors, windows etc.
If you can repurpose materials (ie free!) and can find help or learn some carpentry skills, you can make a nice coop from wood. But you still need a run and hardware cloth, etc. Having chickens can be more or less expensive but even "cheap" usually means a couple of hundred dollars to get it all up. The hardware cloth might be the most expensive part especially with "free off the curb" doors, windows, etc. You aren't likely going to find someone with a spare roll or three of 1/2" hardware cloth they are just itching to get rid of.
Pay by cash, check, debit or credit card!
If you are asking "do I feed them forever or do I make chicken stock when they don't lay often enough anymore?", YOU
have to decide that. Here they will live a spoiled life until they die of natural causes (sadly including foxes in 2 cases) or have to be saved from a slow and uncomfortable death due to illness, age related or otherwise (none so far).
Can you afford to feed non producing chickens? Heck, can you afford to feed PRODUCING chickens. What does feed cost where you are? Here it typically runs ~$12-$13 for 50 pounds (local feed mill, same price at the mill or stores). In Alaska (according to 1 source), a 50 pound bag costs $30. BIG difference. Eggs from your chickens are better than egg factory eggs but the latter cost less, especially after you factor in the cost of building their housing (*). I am currently feeding 16 girls, they eat about one 54 oz jar of layer pellets per day BUT they also get some BOSS in the morning and whatever kitchen scraps I have (they LOVE fat from meat BTW) and they get scratch at night. Less feed in the summer (IF I can keep the !@#$%^ woodchucks out) because they range outside all day long finding "proper" chicken food in the form of vegetation and bugs.
* Not inclusive because I didn't start keeping track until Feb 2013 and I got my first 12 chicks in June 2012 so not included is the cost of the original 12 chicks, converting the horse stall to a coop, feed, bedding, etc for the first 7 months. That said, to date my chickens I have laid ~4,500 eggs
and my expenses since mid Feb 2013 run about $900 or $0.20/egg, $2.40/dozen. I have given away just over 2,000 to MIL or a couple of friends as a THANKS!! and sold (cheap at $2.50/dozen) to a couple of friends I used to work with, gross income about $400. That means we have used ~2,500 eggs in the last 4 years (an astounding number to me) but 5 at breakfast this morning, 3 in the quiche last night, 2 in the squash pasta casserole on Thursday, it adds up! BUT even if the price for all the eggs I sold was $5, it STILL wouldn't cover my expenses since mid Feb 2013. So I figure it like this: I like having them (chickens are interesting, fun and therapeutic), I am making SOME minimal agricultural use of this "used to be a farm" home, the VERY high quality eggs we have eaten have cost $2.40/dozen and they came from chickens that have a better life than some people and WAY better than the chickens laying the eggs sold at the store.
Now you need to decide "do I eat the eggs or do I sell them to cover the expenses?" How patient are your customers? My two friends are VERY patient. They got eggs the first winter because pullets typically lay their first winter, but not so much in subsequent winters. And pullet eggs tend to be smaller. I started at $2.50 because the eggs were USDA medium (frequently on the small end of that) and a dozen Medium store eggs probably cost about $1.25 then. They give me some amount of money for their "account" so they don't have to deal with scrounging out $2.50 whenever I show up so I have their money early. I figured to up the price to $3 when the eggs got larger but decided to "grandfather" my first customers. Glad I did because they got SQUAT from mid October until March both 2014 and 2015 because the girls weren't laying. I had to buy eggs
for Christmas baking December 2014. So part of the cheap price is "hey thanks for understanding the chickens lay when they want to". They are getting eggs now because the June pullets are producing, 3 of the 7 are now laying large. The older girls will probably start back up in a few weeks. But, come about next October, most likely I will be feeding 16 hens, my MIL and 2 friends will be buying eggs at the store and IF I'm lucky, I might save up enough for Christmas baking and not have to buy any.
Nice job of repurposing!! I'm curious, is it typical in England to have a wide board for roosting on?
Better to teach the 17 Y/O to use the saw now than have him cut off a body part when he turns 18 and is "suddenly" a responsible adult.