Can anyone give me an idea of start-up costs?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cookfromscratch, May 20, 2011.

  1. cookfromscratch

    cookfromscratch New Egg

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    May 18, 2011
    Not really sure where to post this ....

    I know that everything depends on the cost of the coop and the area of the country we are in. I'm looking at 4-6 laying hens to start with and need a portable coop (one that can literally move with us when we leave the place we are in, not necessarily move around the yard.)

    All we know about chickens comes from a friend of our who has in upwards of 300 layers and sells eggs to a local co-op. She is gathering, cleaning, candling, packaging, generally running a much larger scale business than I desire to have. I only want to have chickens for my own eggs and for close family members who live down the street. My husband is afraid of the cost and that it will be easier, cheaper etc to just buy the eggs from a local farmer.

    I want chickens. I have wanted them for two years. He sees the hassle of her business and I see teaching my kids the value of keeping livestock and self-sufficiency.

    I realize that my four little hens are not going to be anything compared to her 300+ layers. I just don't want him "giving in" to me because I want it so badly.

    Can anyone give me an idea of my start up costs - feeding a small flock for the next year, the coop etc. The chickens are being gifted to us. I am a total DIYer and want to build everything. I have even been looking at the plans for making a coop from old pallets. I would like something like a tractor to appease my hubs but would ideally would love to pasture them. Again., not our property so I am still investigating that. Hubs isn't convinced we can keep them safe in a pastured area. We have coyotes, owls, hawks, farm dogs, cows, goats - none of which are ours. (We do have two lab puppies who will be trained to leave them be.)

    Help!
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Your big expense will be the coop/run. You will lose chickens to the predators that you listed, unless you build a predator proof run/coop. You will need the run completely covered with fencing, even over the top to protect from predators. Even with dogs, and often times, dogs are great predators too, even if trained. Labs are bird dogs, they naturally retrieve birds. I know, my son in law's has often brought me a chicken.[​IMG] He can't help it, he thinks he has gone to bird heaven.

    It also depends on where you are at, how winter proof your coop needs to be.

    To be honest, it is a bit expensive, especially if you do it up nice. You do not say how large your family is, and 4 hens won't take up a huge amount of space, but they are happier if they do have some space, but will totally destroy a yard of grass, flowers and bushes. You will need some way of confining them for their protection and the protection of the yard.

    If you build it yourself, I am thinking around $500.00. Maybe some more, but not, I think, too much less, unless you find a complete set up for sale.

    Once I saw on craigslist, a yard and coop and hens for sale $100.00. But that would just be luck.

    Mrs.K
     
  3. cookfromscratch

    cookfromscratch New Egg

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    May 18, 2011
    Thank you so much! I welcome many, many more comments and suggestions!

    We are a family of four. I bake a lot. We cook at home and rarely eat out. I have plenty of space here but like I said, it ain't ours. Hubby was thinking more along the lines of the top being covered too.

    I think as much as it pains me, I will look into a tractor set up.

    $500 really? Ugh. Not what I was expecting. [​IMG]
     
  4. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    My Coop
    You might read this. At the end is a link to the original analysis article. The truth is there is no one answer to the question, and that it can be very different depending on how you move into owning the birds.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    My Coop
    You can look at my BYC page for answers to a lot of other start up costs and considerations, including coop suggestions. Hope it helps!
     
  6. wingsofglory

    wingsofglory Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Much depends on the area of the country you are in - desert? West coast? Deep south? midwest? Alaska?

    I have dealt with the whole thing having to be moveable. the cutest idea I've seen is to build the coop on the bed of utility trailer. Your weather would determine the size.

    The smallest cheapest utility trailer Costco or Lowes sells new around $150 - it is about 4' x 6', or used from Craigs List. The plans are to look like a gypsy caravan wagon - painted up grand - so it is not an eyesore in your yard. When you move, you simply pull it behind your vehicle. Will take to build about seven sheets of CDX plywood - NOT OSB. OSB warps when wet from rain and looks terrible, also the high glue content is toxic formaldehyde to your hens. Your choice of windows and hardware and paint will influence total cost. It needs to have one side open hardwarewire for ventilation and coolness - a cross breeze with second closeable window even better.

    The little garden wagons are small enough to get into a pickup when you move. And it can be pulled around the yard. I would cantilever out the sides of the coop to make the coop roomier inside.

    For the pen, I make panels 4' high by 8' long of 2x2s and hallf inch hardware wire. I fasten two or three together and cover the top with chicken wire. Make two or four of these pieced-sections. Then fasten together in the field using a temporary latch or just rope that can be untied. One section has a door installed. [Just one tractor of 4x8 is not really big enough - moving it every other day or so gets old.] Two of these make an 8x8 enclosure that can be moved. Four make an 8x16' enclosure. Lay strips of welded wire on the ground where the panels go. Stake the panels to the ground. Make the door big-dog-proof. The dogs found my door was the weak spot and tore off the closure latch and got in and I lost my hen--new desing they cannot do that.

    this was the cheapest moveable system I could come up with. The four foot is the height of the hardware cloth. It is high enough for me to maneiuver around in there to collect lost eggs or catch the birds or clean up feeders/waterers. I made the sections of 2x2s so it is light enough for me to move around by myself.

    Another way to save money is not get the expensive waterers/feed dishes. I use gallon water bottles - the cheap whitish thin plastic kind. Cut a hole in the side and up to near the top. Leave the handle on it. Use it to tie it to the wire. Works for both feed and water. Easy to wash out and throw away when you want a new one.

    I've gone through other designs over the years - the all-in-one 4x8' tractor was too heavy to move and too small really. Minimum is 8x8' in two parts that latch together with a separate coop that latches on. Don't forget the roll of welded wire laid on the ground under the walls of the pen.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Moabite

    Moabite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2010
    Utah
    If you build it, they will happen.... Just do it. You will be glad you did. Chickens don't need much and you got BYC to help you every step of the way.
     
  8. wingsofglory

    wingsofglory Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 15, 2011
    Palmer Alaska
    Here are some links to the gypsy caravan style. People have figured out how to put on American-style wheels without using a utility trailer or the small garden wagons.

    If anyone knows where to get the iron-British-style caravan style wheels in the US, let me know.

    http://www.buildchickencoops.com/gypsycaravancoop.htm

    http://www.flytesofancy.co.uk/chickenhouses/The_Gypsy_Hen_House.html

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=42099-chicken-coop-gypsy-caravan

    http://www.harpershens.com/Pages/index.php/755/757
     
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I would like to say, [​IMG]

    It is very likely to be more expensive having your own chickens- almost certainly so. Because you must provide fencing, coop, etc.

    You'll have to sell it to your husband as a project for the children, or pets for you, or just to be in control of your own food production, etc.

    I have found that the prices add up, and as one person on BYC (I forget who) said, "The first egg costs $700 and the rest after that are free."

    So there is no way to win that argument with your husband in my opinion, that it will be cheaper.

    You mentioned that you have puppies. Is there any way you can get dog kennel panels to use as a run? That way, if you decide to repurpose them, you can always use them to expand the dog pen.

    Very little risk there! The only risk would be the coop. Lots of people have dog kennel runs. You can plug it into the BYC search bar. This is just one idea.
     
  10. GiddyMoon

    GiddyMoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are kind of in the same boat. We wanted chickens for over 4 years but we knew we would be possibly moving out of state..once that happened, it took us 9 months in a vacation house before we found the type of property we wanted to rent..that's right.>RENT.

    We have an acre here and at the end of the house under a big mesquite tree are poles where a dog run used to be..15x25...I thought it would be perfect for chickens..I don't care that we are renting..it is fine with the owners and I don't think we are going anywhere soon..BUT..this; together with the move absolutely draining us and starting over..really puts a cramp in our coop style.

    I watched craigslist like a hawk and got 100 feet of 6' high chain link fencing for $80...my order of 25 chicks cost me about $75 but I sold 8 for $32...the "brooders" were a stock tank we found at a garage sale and then a whelping box frame from my SIL, which has worked VERY well and VERY cheap to build..here is a photo:

    [​IMG]

    BUT...

    we now still have to finish the coop..we are in the desert so mainly hardware cloth but that can be expensive..we want large but not unmovable....if you plan on going new, it gets VERY costly.

    We are checking out a used free surplus place Monday for free plywood..what we plan on doing is building 2 sections that meet in the middle and we will bolt it together with a middle roof overlay. We only need a solid back, half wrap solid walls and the rest hardware cloth and framing...if you give yourself time, and really look for free things, you can go cheap....especially for just a few birds.


    Honestly, I can't see 4 or so hens costing anymore than like $20 or so a month in feed. A coop for 4 hens can easily be a tractor and wire run...we wanted 10-15 chickens..we now have 19 and I already have people lined up to buy 3 of my hens next month for $15 each and an order for 25 more chicks from people who don't want to order them themselves and brood them for the first few days..we needed more room. [​IMG]

    4 chickens sounds easy and cheap! [​IMG]
     

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