I'm curious. I was into it because I care about high quality food and would love to practice it.. but after reading all this stuff I'm starting to get turned off. It seems like a lot of cost/effort/time to maintain a flock with a lot of risk and not a lot of payoff. I can go to whole foods and get really good quality pasture raised eggs for $5 a dozen, a local farmer $4. I know I can give them slightly better feed then them... but is it really worth it?
At most if I could feed them for free and got the chicks for free, and not counting startup costs like coop and fencing.. I would be saving $60 a month. In reality I know I'd be paying for shavings/food, so this savings would be down to probably closer to $30 as long as egg production was good and I didn't have problems with predators/disease/or broodiness. With a lot of work that needs to be done everyday.
High risk/low reward? Although I would love seeing my future children react to them that MIGHT make it worth it.
Please tell me what your thoughts are, what savings you think you are getting, how much work you spend to care for them daily/weekly, and any other benefits I might not be seeing.