How much does it cost to raise backyard chickens?

So your kids (or spouse) talked you into chickens. Now, one of the first questions that came up was probably: "How much is this going to cost?"...
Rating:
5/5,
  1. BYC Project Manager
    [​IMG]
    So your kids (or spouse) talked you into chickens. Now, one of the first questions that came up was probably: "How much is this going to cost?" The good news is chickens are really not that expensive to keep and there are lots of ways to cut costs and save money. This article will give you an idea of how much you can expect to fork out for the chickens and their basic needs, as well as some ongoing costs. Let's say your starting small, with only three hens.

    The approximate costs to raise 3 hens would be:


    • Chickens: $3 - $30 per chicken depending on age, breed etc.
    • Coop: Free (recycled materials) to $2,000 & up (new & fancy). Average is usually around $500
    • Feed approximately $15.00 per month.
    • Miscellaneous $10.00 per month.

    **Please note: that all prices listed here are very general estimates only and can vary greatly from state to state, between cities and towns etc. So shop around for the best prices before buying, especially with ongoing expenses such as feed. All prices listed are US$.

    BUYING CHICKENS

    **Tip: Starting with small chicks instead of buying mature chickens can save you quite a bit of money, though the downside is you will have to wait 5-6 months for eggs. I once calculated that if I bought day-old chicks instead of POL hens from a breeder, I would've spent half the money I paid for those pullets!

    If you decide to raise your own chicks you can expect to pay $3.00 and $5.00 per chick (day-old) for popular breeds and for rare breeds you can expect to pay up to $50.00 or more per chick.

    Older chicks and mature chickens' prices vary greatly between breeds, age of the chickens etc. Expect to pay $20.00 and $50.00 for a pullet and $5.00 to $15.00 per rooster. **Tip: Unwanted roosters are often offered "free to good homes", so if you're not fussy about the breed/quality and want to get a rooster for your flock, keep an eye out for Free Re-Homing adverts.

    HOUSING YOUR FLOCK

    If you decide to raise chicks you will need a brooder for them. A basic pre-made brooder will cost you between $75.00 and $100.00. Most chicken owners build their own or improvise brooders out of a large range of items. Old rubber maid tubs, crates, packing cases etc will serve you well for a small number of chicks. (Make sure you allow enough space - ideally at least 1 sq foot per chick - for the little guys as they will need to stay in there for around 6 weeks, unless the weather is really mild and you can move them to the coop sooner.) You can also build your brooder out of recycled materials. See here for designs and ideas.


    [​IMG]
    Pic by Wolfscout
    You will need to keep the chicks warm for the first few weeks while they are feathering out. A heat lamp and bulb will cost between $20.00 and $28.00.

    Feeders and waterers for the brooder (and later the coop) cost between $8.00 and $40.00, depending on size and design. You can save money by making your own waterers and feeders. **Tip: Egg boxes make excellent "feeders" in the brooder and most shallow, clean, dishes can work quite well for water while the chicks are small.

    Older chicks and mature chickens will need a coop to sleep and lay their eggs in. A pre-made coop can cost you anywhere from $50.00 for a small, secondhand coop to $4000.00+ for a brand new, made-to-order chicken mansion. You can save a LOT of money building your own coop, see here for coop designs.

    FEEDING AND BEDDING

    A 50 lbs bag of chick starter crumbles will cost you around $15.00- $18.00. Prices differ quite a bit between medicated, non-medicated, organic and regular feed and of course between different brands. **Tip: you will pay less per pound if you buy feed in large amounts.

    Grower and "all flock" feed for older chickens will cost around $17.00 per 50 lbs bag and layer pellets between $15.00 and $30.00 per 50 lbs bag, depending again on brand and whether you buy organic/regular. Scratch grains cost around $10.00 per 50 lbs bag, between depending on availability and quality.

    Wood shavings cost around $6.00 (.276 cubic meter loose and .092 cubic meters compressed). Straw will cost you between $3.00 and $12.00 per bale, depending on availability, quality and size of order. Sawdust pellets will cost around $4.00 per 40 lbs bag.

    How much a chicken will eat is near impossible to say. Certain breeds, Leghorns for example, are not big eaters. It also depends on the size of the chickens are they bantams or large fowl? The time of year (chickens eat more in winter and less when it's hot) and whether they free range or not. A free ranging chicken can find a lot of food in plant materials, bugs, etc and will eat less than a chicken that is kept confined in a coop and run. As a rough guide:

    -A chick will eat roughly 9-10 lbs of feed in it's first 10 weeks.
    -A mature, standard size chicken will eat approximately 5 lbs of feed per month, if allowed to free range, and an active laying hen, if confined to the coop, will need around 6 lbs of feed per month.

    In addition to feed and bedding materials, add roughly $10.00 per month for miscellaneous extras, such as medicine, pest control, egg boxes etc.

    [​IMG]

    Another question that gets asked frequently is: will keeping my own hens work out cheaper in the long run than buying eggs from the shop? That very much depends on your financial input. You can save quite a bit of money by starting up and raising your chickens on a shoestring and you can save by shopping around for the best deals on feed. Here is a good discussion with tips on how to save money on chicken feed. Also check if you are allowed to sell any extra eggs in your state as that can help you recoup some money, or at the very least cover some of the feeding costs.

    For more money saving tips visit the Coop & Run and the Feeding & Watering Your Flock forum sections.

    We'd love to get your thoughts, comments, and experiences on the costs of raising chickens, so we started a thread to get your feedback here:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ard-chickens-how-much-is-it-to-raise-chickens

    Share This Article

    kMamaHen likes this.

Comments

To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. Cali Farms
    Great Article!

    There's a brand new online poultry auction site that just launched called
    (American Poultry Auctions)
    Starting your own backyard poultry business definitely helps with the costs of raising your birds and you can even make a large profit if you learn how to sell fertile eggs and chicks and get them all sold constantly. You can sell on this new auction site and start your own chicken business. They provide everything you need, even the birds!
  2. Slvdh2000
    When I bought my baby chicks, they were only $1.25 each!
  3. HennyPennyCO
    An additional comment on feed and wasted feed.
    My hens just did not like some brands of crumbles or pellets or layer mash and would throw the feed all over the place looking for the better stuff that they were sure I had hidden at the bottom of the feed dish!
    I bought a different feed each time until I finally found one they liked. It was an expensive organic one (of course!) but they love it and DO NOT waste it. The bag information says that it is complete and not to feed other feed, scratch grain or whatever, so I save on those expenses. They do still get their daily bunch of dandelion greens and the occasional handful of mixed scratch grains & dried meal worms for amusement's sake.
  4. Jack Speese
    I agree with Perry, Zulu, and Oliver. Economics can't be the main reason for a hobby flock, as it is impossible to do things as efficiently on a small scale as you can on a mass production scale. Even small- to medium-scale free range operations are still much bigger than the average backyard flock. And buying supplies such as feed in bulk is cheaper per unit. But you will have healthier, happier birds that will produce longer because they aren't forced and undoubtedly better tasting products. For me anyway it's sort of the same difference between assembly line products versus handcrafted ones.
  5. zuluchicken
    Without getting into much detail let me just say the following. It is almost impossible to keep chickens on the scale that we as "back yard keepers" do and make a profit- we are simply on a too small scale. Keeping chickens in your back yard should be for the fun of it and as a bonus a few fresh eggs every day.

    If you do the sums you will find that buying eggs at the supermarket is much cheaper but that is not the point. We enjoy our chickens- that is all there is to it.
  6. perrypogue
    Right from the beginning I decided that the cost of getting into chickens just had to be discarded. Instead I decided that I could afford them and it was worthwhile. So, I just stopped counting the cost and started enjoying the project. My 9 hens and 2 roosters (all RIR) are now 12 weeks old and they have become my greatest pleasure. I'm getting excited about getting eggs and listening to my roosters crow. I believe it will never be cost effective but I have no regrets. I love to watch them free range. I watch them go to roost and I open the coop the first thing in the morning. I love'em!
  7. Oliver Douglas
    So far, spent $169 on a coop kit, $11.00 for the four chicks, $8.95 for a water bottle, $6.95 for a plastic feed dispenser, $16.00 for chicken feed, $4.00 for parakeet grit, $9.00 for a big bag of pine shavings, $19.00 for a heat lamp and bulb, $5.00 for dried meal worms (which they ignore) and $12.00 for a big plastic bin I used for their brooder. They will be six weeks old this Wednesday (April 22, 2015). $262.00 spent so far, and all I've gotten from them to date is entertainment. One thing people forget when they run the numbers is that much of the stuff purchased (feed and used bedding excluded) is reusable at a later date for the next go-round. Yard sales can be a great resource for many new chick folks. Recycling old stuff, like wash tubs, auto repair hanging lights, etc can save a lot of money. At this point each of the little darlings have cost me over $65 each....when you throw out Mr. Rooster, that goes up to $87 for each of the three hens....haven't even gotten to the straw for the layer boxes....better not be any slackers when egg laying starts...
  8. OldHen13
    Love reading all these replies! Just starting out this year....and I can hardly wait!!
      [email protected] likes this.
  9. yyz0yyz0
    One thing I did not see mentioned was the re-use of old dog kennels for pens. I was able to score 8 12x6 chainlink kennel panels for free from a neighbor who moved into a house with an existing dog kennel he did not want. He was just going to take the panels to the dump, so instead he dropped them off at my place. I used 3 for the run sides(coop is 4th side) I then put two more panels on top and also got ahold of some rolled chainlink fencing that I attached to the bottom of the panels and staked to the ground for a digger apron.
    Now I have a predator proof coop/run, I never have to close the door to the coop as the run is safe. Love not having to deal with a door twice a day.

    One more thing to consider, for many of us chickens are more than meat or eggs, they are entertainment as well. So how much does a cat cost you or a dog? Neither of those give eggs and I wouldn't use their poop in my garden.
  10. cstronks
    This is an excellent article. Really gives good estimations and such regarding chickens. The only point I would disagree on is raising your own chicks. To start, the equipment needed to raise chicks does not come cheap (especially if you are hatching your own eggs!), and shipping is also costly. You'll also have to feed the birds for 20-26 weeks until the point of lay. I have always bought started pullets from local farmers, and they've been $5, $7, and $10 (the most i've ever paid for a bird). Within four weeks of purchase most begin to lay and from there on you're set. Finding pullets can be more difficult than finding chicks, but I've had great success using BYC and with local references from the feed store in finding birds.
  11. TXchickmum
    Great article!
  12. LoveThemBirds
    Great article!

    If your a great owner it should be expensive!(In all respect!)
  13. OldGuy43
    The only real problem that I've had with raising my own hens is that it has spoiled me for eating breakfast at a restaurant. I used to love the omelets at a local restaurant, but now not so much.
  14. AprilH
    I used a Corona beer box at first at the cost of $0. I put a mirror on there until I got 2 other chicks. Then I got a medium size dog cage and picked up extra wire to attach around it $65. I put a liner inside and the heat lamp $20 with 2 pack bulbs) on top...bought wood, cut in two to make two perches. Mason jar Waterer and Feeder: $15 together. Small Amazon box with flap cut off turned on it's side they love to lay inside (free), chick grit log for $6. Feed, meal worms and pine shreds...same costs you all pay, I'm sure.
    They seem very happy in the large cage. They're only 4 and 6 weeks old now, so it's time to think out coop plans.
  15. Chick-e-poo
    Thanks for this info!
  16. HennyPennyCO
    Ah, Rosie, wait until God finds a cute little fox or coyote family in the spring that needs to be kept from starving . . .
    Loved your story about how your family acquired your birds.
    We are down to about $10.00 cost per egg now since the girls are laying after the moult. I think only three out of four of them are laying, but without a surveillance camera inside the coop, I'm not sure exactly which three it is!
    I asked around about insulating the coop & was told it was not necessary if you match the right-sized coop for the number of birds you have, for example, four hens need a coop that is sized for four hens, not for six or eight. Their little bodies in the smaller size coop will make enough heat to keep them all nice & warm.
    Must add the observation that if I don't chase them into the coop at night, the girls snuggle up close to each other and roost quite happily on the roof ridge line of their (A-frame) coop - even at below-zero temperatures! When I've picked them off the roof to put inside the coop they're all delightfully toasty-warm.
    I did add a lucite windbreak panel on the windward side of the coop and that addition has been very successful in keeping out wind-blown snow from the "patio" area on the bottom half of the coop (the upper part is the sleeping quarters, or penthouse as we call it). The girls spend much of their time on freezing days making dust bath bowls and rearranging their straw & shredded leaf litter in the sheltered patio. I throw scratch grain & dried meal worms in there to give them something to scratch for, to keep their little brains busy. And to keep us human keepers amused.
    BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored byView our Sponsors Showcase
  17. RosieinKS
    Do not under estimate the expense of raising chickens. Treated lumber, hail screening, hardware, screws that won't rust, roofing material, insulation, windows, and TIME to build your own coop if you can't afford a pre-made one. Pre-made coops don't come insulated from what I've seen in our area (Kansas) at the local Farm and Ranch Supply store. We recycled quite a bit of our material - used an old playground our kids had out grown for some of the lumber, an old trampoline for a pen, etc. If you want the coop to last more than one winter it needs to be panted inside and out, cleaned out and replaced with fresh bedding as the odor dictates. My husband is a self-employed woodworker, so the wood shavings are free and it still cost $1000 + to build a 10' X 4' coop for 12 chickens, enough to supply us with eggs and sell a few dozen along the way. Our chickens are free range and there is still plenty of feed & scratch to buy. We have a dog that helps with protection in the evenings if we are not home on time and that seems to deter predators. We live in the country and have coyotes around, but none so far have gotten any of our chickens or ducks (4). My husband keeps a careful watch and deals with problems as they arise. Then there is the frozen water in the winter time. We have an electric water bucket and a base for a metal chicken waterer that cost about $40 - 45 a piece. Some people set up heaters in their coops, which we don't do. And then if you get into hatching eggs, their incubators, etc., which I know very little about. So don't go into it thinking it's a cheap hobby because it's not. Plus there is the time commitment to let them out, every morning, feed and water twice a day, and lock them up at dusk every evening. Being away from home for a night or a weekend or several days requires finding someone to care for them. We started raising chickens because our children brought home chicks from their Science class. And when my husband went to buy building material, he decided if you are going to build a coop, you might as well raise enough to produce eggs = 8 chicks total. Then when the next child brings home 2 more chicks, husband decides to buy 3 more chicks ......and.......wait for it........4 baby ducks! They need a separate coop, of course. Ducks are the messiest animals God created, though cute. And they grow really fast, so have the coop ready before the ducklings come home. Keeping them in the bathtub is a nightmare when the tote box quickly became too small. It has helped with giving our kids chores that need to be done daily, which was the other goal of this endeavor, but as with any good intentions, the chores sometimes fall to the parents, unless you enjoy nagging. We've been blessed, no sicknesses or health issues that have taken our birds, and none killed by predators in over 20 months and our birds all free range, ducks and chickens alike. We believe God has provided protection in many cases, especially...
  18. Jack Speese
    I am inclined to agree with you, Rosie. Commercial producers can probably get these materials at contractors' prices, get farm loans and farm tax breaks to help with the funding, etc. Building a coop from scratch won't be cheap, not even for a small flock. Although if you already have a decent outbuilding that can be modified you might save something. If you have the space you might want to consider ducks rather than chickens. With their waterproof feathers and down they only require minimal (but nevertheless sturdy, dry, and predator-proof) shelter and they are very healthy and hardy. But because they are messy they need more space (ideally 25 sq ft per bird, but in the drier, less sloppy summer season you can get by with less; presumably in the winter you'll just have your breeding birds) than chickens. I frankly feel that you get a better dressed carcass from a duck than you do a chicken, unless you get broilers. Even a large breed rooster like a Rhode Island Red or Plymouth Rock is a lot of bone and "chicken-chested" (mostly keel bone in the breast) compared to a broiler. But broilers are hybrids, won't breed true (or at all) and not suited to be kept past slaughter age. I love chickens, but in many cases I think ducks are ideal. And for a small number, constructing a secure pen with a top and simple shelter wouldn't be that big a deal. But granted, chickens require less space and can be raised in (comfortable) confinement, whereas ducks prefer to be outside. You could house 10 or so hens very nicely in a 10 x 10 stall, but that many ducks would make it messy in a hurry.
  19. RosieinKS
    Don't go into the chicken business to make money on eggs, because unless you have lots of free material around in which to build your coop, decent materials to build a secure coop are really expensive. The walls need insulation, windows, ventilation and reinforcement with hail screening to keep predators out. Coops need lay boxes built a certain size with access from outside the coop to collect the eggs. Trays in the bottom that pull out help with cleaning out the dirty bedding. By the time you make the thing mobile so you can move it, ventilate, insulate, build a pen so when you're gone they can still go outside without being eaten, all these things cost money and time. Then there is bedding, feed, containers for water and food.

    We got into the chicken business to teach our kids some responsibility for taking care of animals. Our daughter carries them around like a pet when she's out in the yard with them, as she does the baby kittens. She gets the money when we sell extra eggs, but she gets the job of taking care of them too. We want them to learn that making money takes work and keeping animals safe and healthy requires regular care and feeding.

    Rosie in KS
  20. roseygirl
    If all you want is eggs, then I've found that they will cost quite a bit. Like others have said, there are many other benefits of having chickens that make them worth it, like tilling land, providing compost, parasite control around other livestock, etc. If you put the chickens to work then they are way worth the cost.
  21. WVDoug
    Factor in the free insect and rodent control, and free fertilizer for the garden too.
  22. jtn42248
    Another thing that needs to be considered when determining if backyard farm fresh eggs are "cheaper" than those bought in stores is that dairy products (eggs included) are what the industry calls "loss leaders". They are sold below the price the store often pays for them (at a loss) in order to lead the customer into the store where they will invariably purchase additional products at mark-up. That is why dairy is almost always located in the back of the store...you are drawn through the store and exposed to additional products when all you need is milk and eggs. So while it may cost me 7 cents per egg more than an egg purchased at retail the difference would be less if not the reverse if we were to factor the actual cost of those eggs to the supermarket.
  23. bruceha2000
    I think the answer to "will keeping my own hens work out cheaper in the long run than buying eggs from the shop?" is decidedly NO ... ASSUMING you are talking about egg factory eggs which are unbelievably cheap. But the quality is no where near what you will get out of a happy "backyard" hen especially if it can range and find all types of food. If you compare apples to apples, I think the answer is yes - ever seen the price of organic eggs from free range chickens ... and I don't mean the USDA definition of "not caged and has access to the outdoors" which can be as little as a minute a day on a concrete pad.
  24. yyz0yyz0
    I recently read an article on one of my gardening magazines written by a commercial egg farmer. When he considered ALL of his costs, he estimated that his organic eggs were costing him $12/doz to produce.

    Another way to look at the cost issue is to think about how you feel about your chickens and then think about the cost of a dog or cat that gives you no food in return. I think of my chickens as pets and as a hobby, I figure any hobby that pays for itself(or at least contributes somewhat) to be a positive thing.
  25. roosterlover897
    Orinally Quoted by SNJchickens
    As wonderful as the eggs are, the entertainment value of our 5 hens is beyond price. Their antics as they free range or scratch around in the runs make life a CONTINUAL wonder. Who needs television?

    I must agree with you they are the funniest animal to watch and make me smile even on the dreriest days
  26. roosterlover897
    I love this article i have been trying to prove to my freinds that getting chickens and here the evidence is written here in words!
  27. emma p
    I found myself looking in detail about how much it would cost me to have chickens. It ended up costing me a lot less then I was prepared for. However I think this is a good thing! I am glad I thought it would cost me more because it allowed me to prepare better. Good artecle.
  28. aoxa
    I keep actual books for my chicken breeding venture. If you do it on a small scale, you are going to end up paying more than eggs from the store, so cheap eggs should not be your goal. If you have enough hens to sell eggs, you may just make a little extra pocket change once you work the expenses/income out. Don't get too complicated. You must cull non productive hens as they stop laying to avoid being at a loss. I have some myself that are here for life, but I am willing to accept that responsibility.

    The cost of the (removable) building should be broken down over years.. It's 10% per year depreciation on my tax return. So if your coop cost you $2,500 (I'm using a 10x12 baby barn we bought as an example), it's 20.83/month. I can keep 30 chickens in that coop. Each laying hen (red sex link at feed store) at Point of Lay costs $10 each x 30 = $300. They will lay regularly for a year. Lets break that $300 up by 12 months = $25/month. They would eat 150 pounds of food a month x .25 (cost per pound of feed) = $37.50 a month to feed (in winter, maybe half that in the summer). It would take an entire bale of shavings to cover a 10x12 space and that is $6.77 (tax in) per bale every month. Double that in the winter because it needs to be changed more.

    Our total is up to = $90.10/month for BASIC needs of 30 laying hens. At their prime we'll say a good laying hen lays 25 eggs per month x 30 hens = 750 eggs a month to sell and eat. Say your family consumes 3 dozen or so a week. That's 12 dozen for you and 50 dozen to sell at $4 a dozen = $200 per month of egg income

    $200 - $90.10 = $109.90 NET income per month. 30 Hens upkeep would require at least 30 minutes of work a day (open, feed, water, collect eggs <-- morning. Feed, water, collect eggs <--- evening. Close <-- bedtime) = 14 hours of work a month.

    Yeah you can make a profit if you don't keep any non-productive hens as pets... You must take into consideration if there is a demand for fresh eggs in your area. Some areas have too many options, therefore prices are much lower as is demand. About half of people interested in fresh eggs do not want them to be fertile.. so keeping a rooster around is not a good idea if selling eggs is your only motivation.

    I hope this wasn't too confusing. I didn't want to get into cost of feeders, waterers, electric and heat lamps. I'm basing this off of a point of lay hen that does not need any heat. Assuming you already have all the start up supplies (waterer, feeder).
  29. collingwood
    a great article for those new to chickens!
  30. WVDoug
    Here's what I paid this year in northern WV:
    Chicks.......................$2-$3 each.
    Starter/grower...........$16 for 50lbs.
    Layer or all flock.......$10-$15 for 50lbs.
    Chick feeder..............free (made from oat canister and plastic cold cut container)
    Chick waterer............free (made from (2) 2 liter pop bottles)
    Brooder.....................box with $20 fixture and ceramic heat bulb
    Pine shaving.............$6 for 8 cu ft.
    Straw.........................$12 for 50lbs.
    Coop (raised 10'x6', with 10x6 run under)....................about $150 (recycle/repurpose/scrounge)
    Outdoor run (2-6'x8' dog runs).....................................1/2 free, 1/2 from neighbor for free eggs the rest of the year.
    8 day feeder for 17 birds...............................................less than $40.
    PVC pipe and nipple watering system...........................less than $20.
    Homemade automatic 12V door/motor/timer..................less than $60.
    12V lights/timer..............................................................less than $30.
    Solar power system (panel/battery/charge controller)...less than $150
    Add sales tax for the store bought items.
    And yes, I'm "frugal"!
  31. RezChamp
    Yup. Good one. Some of us newbies/wannabe's need this kind of info. Some of us veterans need to be reminded. Thank you from all of us.
    My chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys are spoiled too. They get whatever veggies and fruits the grocery store decides is unfit for humans. Also a lot of the garden produce "over production" stuff. Kale, cabbage, bok choy, beets, "over mature" corn. I love lazy people. They leave so much produce for me to forage for my birds.
  32. AKNan
    It really depends on what part of the country you live in. Some places are cheaper than others and much more populated. Me being up in Alaska things are very high here as everything is shipped up here adding a lot to cost. A bale of straw is $24. and Timothy hay is $26.
    I stopped counting at 500 dollars for getting the coop built. My hens are almost 7 months now and out of eight I have six laying so now I'm selling eggs to friends for $6. a dozen which is the going price up here. I will have to sell lots of eggs to make up my costs but that was NOT the point. I just love chickens and love having them here. I pretty much spoil them rotten.
  33. Peep_Show
    Built my own coop because I needed it absolutely predator proof. Supplies were not inexpensive. The only way the coop could've been more expensive is if I bought a new truck to haul the materials home with.
    Decided to hatch my own eggs. 70 eggs yielded a handful of not-found-at-the-feedstore chicks due to rough postal handling and high-altitude challenges, so will probably supplement with shipped chicks.
    Time spent building the coop.... Lots! Don't even want to go into $$/hour estimates.
    Raising chickens: Priceless.
  34. jtn42248
    That first egg was a pretty expensive one but now it is more reasonable. First I sell about 1/3 of my eggs which offsets the cost of keeping them. Then I donate about 1/3 which gives me satisfaction knowing that I am to some small part having a possitive impact on someones life. The rest I keep and/or give away. But, with 23 chickens, 22 ducks and 3 geese my monthly costs (feed, grit, scratch, etc.) runs closer to $200.00 and still, if you pay 2.98 per dozen at the market my eggs only come out to be about 7 cents more expensive. Seven cents for the knowledge that my hens are healthy and happy and not tormented in some production environment and knowing that what is on my plate at breakfast is not full of chemicals and additives and God only knows what. Cheap at half the price in my book. Oh, and I get the fun of having poultry which is itself worth every cent.
  35. HennyPennyCO
    My husband always joked about our $50 tomatoes when we were starting up our veggie garden. (Building raised beds & filling them with appropriate soil is NOT cheap). Now we can joke about the $50 eggs.
    We kept chickens at a previous house 20+ years ago and it was relatively cheap because in the barn there was a securely wired-in feed storage room that we used as a chicken home. With heated water fountain, heat lamp for general warmth in the mountain winters, rabbits for room-mates, and horses for company, they did well. We miss them.
    Now we're in the suburbs, and are back to chicken-keeping since our local council has come to its senses and is allowing backyard hens. I found a used-but-in-very-good-shape, A-frame coop being sold by a new neighbor, put it inside a chain-link dog run no longer being used and bought the usual feed & water paraphernalia. My son-in-law built a pipe & hardware cloth roof over the run (per ideas at Backyard Chickens) to protect from the raccoons & hawks here. Next spring I'll work out how to make a portable run for The Girls.
    Everything has to be dog-proof as one of my rescue dogs was a confirmed chicken-killer before we got him. He's being retrained to love the hens. (He's already learned to love cats.) I'm pretty sure if he was outside and any predator came around he'd run it off fast. (We have foxes & coyotes here.) He's an excellent mouser too.
    We really enjoyed our previous flock, and as others have mentioned, you don't keep chickens just for financial gain - you do it because they are such entertaining creatures. I'm just sorry we can have only 4 hens here.
  36. AnonAMauze
    This may have already been stated but the cost of raising meat birds can differ significantly from keeping laying hens. Meat birds do tend to eat more per pound of body wieght than egg layers, in my experience.
  37. mumofsix
    I've heard it all ! But Everyone needs a hobby and a habit.....Mine is Chickens . Even My Teenage Grand Daugther is into Chickens.
  38. chick n goat ma
    We built our own coop (see pics in COOP forum) We paid $3.00 each for six bantams (3 died in first week) replaced them with 3 Cinnamon Queens for free at the same store. (1 died first day) that left me with 5 babies that have thrived. They are now 15 weeks old .. 2 of the bantams turned out to be one Red and one Barred (beautiful fluffy, feather legged) Cochins, both cockerels and as big as the Cinnamons. the one tiny bantam is an Olde English game bantam who doesn't even look like a chicken.Thanks to 'howfunkyisurchicken', Kelsie2290 and donrae for identifying them for me.
    I just made up about 5 days worth chicken food, heres my recipe (Hey Ive only got 5 to feed and they are pets not livestock so I spoil 'em rotten), I'm retired and my chooks and goats fill my days with joy, and that is priceless.

    2 quarts 'layer' chicken pellets (just upped from starter crumbles)
    1/2 pint mixed grains (horse food)
    1 large grated potato
    2 med grated carrots
    1 large finely chopped onion
    1 stalk chopped celery
    1 chopped old/wrinkled green bell pepper
    1/2 pint cut with scissors(about 1/2 inch lengths) grass
    1/2 pint bread crumbs (from my stale bread)
    1 cup thawed blueberries(skin too tough for humans)
    6 chopped up seedless grapes
    4 oz grated suet
    8 oz chopped mixed chicken, ground beef, keilbassa, and cooked fat with meat attached cut from steaks and roasts,ham etc(all table scraps saved here)
    The chookies go nuts on it, and the goats like it too so I feed the chooks after the goats leave the pen. They also free range in the goats pen all day whilst the goats are out grazing/browsing)
    I am living on a small fixed pension so don't have money to burn but I do have time aplenty for my pets.
  39. Hen-rietta
    I found this article pretty accurate but I've had a bit of an unusual start. I got my 2 hens, coop, run and water can free from my neighbor who was moving. I did purchase a 5 gallon bucket...as you can see from my profile picture, the coop is a small one and I clean out the poop every 2 days or so. Once a week or every 2 weeks, depending on how busy I am, I clean out all of the shavings and give them new bedding all around. I put the stuff I clean out in a trash bag in the 5 gallon bucket and empty it once a week when I also clean out the dog pen and take it to the dump. Shavings are about $5 for a 2.5 cu feet of premium pine shavings (spreads to a little over 8 cu feet) and this will last me probably 6 months as I've had the girls since April and I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the bag.

    A 50 pound bag of feed is about $14 where I live (NH) and that will last me 2-3 months as my girls get healthy kitchen scraps and I usually let them out to free range for an hour or more when I get home. There are little extras I buy here and there, such as a very large bag of meal worms for about $9, will last a few months, and I'm going to get crushed oyster shells the next time I go to ensure a hearty shell but I can't remember the price on those but I do know they will last a while.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I spend no where near $30 a month. I figure for me, it's more like $10- $12 and I think I might be pricing it a little high. However, the eggs I get from them are superior. I have some old Large egg cartons that I'm using but I think I must be getting Jumbo eggs from my RIRs because I can never quite get the lid to close completely. So in turn, we actually use less eggs because they are bigger.
  40. HerbGir1972
    17 doz eggs (204 eggs = hmmm ~25 eggs per chicken that's about one month with hens laying they'll cover their start up cost cost)
    I'm counting one egg per chicken per day. By the end of the year they could pay for themselves :)
  41. HerbGir1972
    8 chicks $18
    Recycle and clean out old coops $0
    Chick Feed $7.99 25# bag TSC
    bale hay to line nesting boxes & coop $25
    Recycled out a trug for brooder box $0
    total so far $50.99
    Kids enjoyment #Priceless
  42. Glos Girls
    We have 21 chicks, starting up was not bad in price, pretty close to what was mentioned. The coop, we have a nice shed that was not really holding anything, so it is now a coop. Our cost is coming in the form of fencing.. lol But they are worth every penny, loving our chicks.
  43. Mister B
    I am cheap. Ask my kids, they will tell you. :) So, when I got into chickens, I got into it cheap. First I built my run and coop. I had some pallets and recycled them to make a base, roof and floor. I elevated my coop about 3'. I can't walk in, but I can reach in and clean it as well as gather eggs. I enclosed it in chicken wire and vinyl siding that I found at a construction site. I had some leftover tin to use as roofing. I purchased 2 rolls of 4x50' 2x4 welded wire and made my run. That cost me ~$75. I bought a gallon waterer at the feed store ~$5.00 and I found 2 hanging feeders I put under the coop at a flea market for $2.50 each. I bought a bag of layer pellets for $12.95 and a bag of scratch for $8.00 (I use the scratch to train them to come when I am feeding the goats, that way, everyone comes when I call). Then I bought 5 Barred Rock chickens ($40) 1 rooster and 4 hens. I built an incubator for about $20 form a found igloo cooler and incubated eggs. I sold chicks last year (test run) and made ~$50. I used that to enlarge my run. For Chickens and all, I was in for less than $200 I bought 15 chicks (straight run) for $67 from Meyer and I plan to sell about half to pay for it this Fall. I am hatching chicks to sell as well. My hope is to hit break even this year and add on to my flock at the same time. Feed costs are low because I free range them. The 5 chickens will eat a 50lb sack of layer pellets every 2-3 months
  44. ochochicas
    My first two chickens I found on Craigslist. They were a two year old pair of layers that came with a hen house and small run, waterer, and a new 50# bag of food. All for $50. The bag of feed had a price tag on it of $26 so it was all a good deal. I've converted a portion of the barn into a large 10 x 10 coop for them. Mainly we used lumber we already had laying round the garage. Materials (hardware and hardware cloth) ran about $150). They are free range and don't eat much food at all. The are very healthy, although I did treat them with Corid just in case ($16 on-line). The pair are laying 12 - 13 eggs per week.

    We also bought chicks from the local feed store. We had to buy food, a lamp, a brooder (rubbermaid tub), a bigger brooder LOL, feed dishes, a cover to keep them in the brooder. Again, we found some stuff on Craigslist. If you are on a budget, or just frugal like me, you can get a good deal by looking around. We washed everything and disinfect it with no problem. I'd say we spent $100 on the chicks and their supplies. For bedding we use shredded paper (free at work!) or hay from the barn. They love hay and it is cheap. They sleep in it, scratch in it, and practice foraging for seeds. The chicks will be using the same coop as the hens when the weather is warm enough.
    Shop around! People often give away hens if they are moving or simply have too many birds. You might not get the breed you want or a show quality bird, but if all you're looking for is a pet or an egg layer, it could be the way to go. I didn't think my old hens would produce many eggs, but I was happily surprised. They are also super nice birds and have been a treat to have on the farm.
  45. triplepurpose
    One caution: free sawdust is a great thing, but I would make sure that sawdust is from non-treated wood, which if it comes from Lowes or Home D I kind of doubt. Actually building with treated wood is one thing , and the benefits may outweigh the risks of low-grade exposure (though our untreated all-wood house in the tropics has lasted just fine for 25 years, including one hurricane and a termite colony :) ). But you don't really want to be extensively handling, breathing, or putting the sawdust from the treated stuff in a coop or garden. I get sawdust from local woodworking shops that only uses untreated woods--one I know offers it free, other charges like $3 for a massive contractor-size trashbag.
  46. jenneverett
    Hello, everything I have read is true! The cost of my chicks was only $3:50 ish per chick, the feeder and water dish were $8-10 ea. The medicated starter feed was $13 a 40 lb bag (I bought 2) I had a shop light to use for heat and we bought antibiotics for the water to get them to 4 weeks old. My aunt had a 6x10 shed she did not want and I have converted it into a coop. I get "waste sawdust" from Lowes or Home Depot lumber dept. They just toss it when cleaning up. Then I have started a meal worm farm, I bought 5000 worms for $38 shipping incl.. then te storage containers and metal screen cost 30 or so. Now at 8 weeks old I stll have plenty of feed and the worms will multiply within 2 months to be ready for feeding before egg laying
  47. SNJchickens
    My chicks were 4 weeks old and came from a local farm (who kindly would/did take back any roosters!) The price was $7 each pullet. Two of my seven were roosters and went back to the farm. My flock therefore, cost me $49 here in NJ. I did not require a heat lamp or brooder.

    Feed has been running $15 - $17 per 50 lbs for a good layer feed. I bought a 50 lb bag of diatomaceous earth for $16 and a 50 lb bag of crushed oyster shell for $11. Both of these are a "lifetime supply" with some to share.

    We live on clay soil that is either deep boot-sucking mud or rock hard, so I do add sand and lime to the run at least twice a year. Neither additive is hugely expensive but the necessity adds to the bottom line.

    I will be re-doing the run area because there has been some winter damage. Add a few more dollars.

    Still and all, when I consider the freshness, flavor and healthfulness of the eggs (and considering the price per dozen of "farm fresh organic free range Omega rich" commercial eggs), keeping chickens is a bargain! The pure joy of keeping hens makes the initial expense easy to bear.
  48. winteree
    i think it costs about the same to buy a cheap akc registered puppy to start raising chickens because i can buy 2 50 pound bags of feed for the price of buying 1 30 pound bag of dog food. My prices so far for a 20ft x 8ft walk in coop so far
    $300-Wood and building materials
    $32- For fertile eggs
    $35- Home made incubator with egg turner
    $15- Chick feed and starter feeders and waterers
    now i wait to see what the lord gives me *crosses fingers* "All hens, All hens ,all hens" XD
  49. OldGuy43
    Stevedb37 makes a good point. If you treat your flock as livestock and a business all will be well. If you spend money on vet bills and fancy, name brand feed you're destined to have a very expensive hobby.
  50. stevedb37
    We started out last year with just 6 white leghorns. They are now down to 4 thanks to a opossum that has been eradicated by a single .223 round lol. This year we are going all out because if you're going to take care 4 chickens, you might as well take care of more. So we got 12 more leghorns and 10 Buff Brahma's and 2 Khaki Campbell ducks. We bought a coop for $2500 but its also an 8'X12' coop. Then we had to add on fencing for the new coop which will run another $400-$500. We plan on selling at least 7 dozen eggs per week at a minimum and by our estimates, the longest it will take before we break even is 6 years and that includes the expenses of feed and bedding. As far as vet bills, there will be none. It may be old fashioned but it doesnt make sense to me to spend money on a vet when you can replace the bird for $3-$5. We love our birds but you have to make the destinction between pets and livestock. With a cow or horse, a vet can be justified. With a chicken, I'm sorry but no vet bill is justified.....whatsoever.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by