Cost of feed

Annie Bubble

In the Brooder
5 Years
Mar 16, 2014
11
0
22
So, I have been wanting to have a chicken business since i was like 12. And well, I don't think it will be very successful if i'm constantly having to buy food. I'm wondering how much I should actually feed each chicken. And would it help if I let them out of their run to eat the bugs more often?
My chickens are Barred Rock (Large chickens)
 

ChickensAreSweet

Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
15,100
699
398
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
In winter you will have to feed them (more)...not enough forage. Of course I always recommend leaving feed out for chickens all day so they can repeatedly fill their crops.

A lighter weight hen eats about 4 oz. of commercial feed per day. If you free range them of course they do eat less. It depends on the time of year also, as in the cold weather they need to eat more.
 
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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,845
21,972
907
Southeast Louisiana
In any business you need to minimize expenses and risks while enhancing income. You have to find a successful formula that works for you. One way to do that is to study people that are doing it the way you want to, and adapt what you learn to your unique situation.

If your only income is selling eggs for people to eat, you can reduce the costs of food by letting them forage for some of their food. That’s the model that small farmers all over the world have used for thousands of years, let the chickens feed themselves during the good weather months and only supplement the feed in the winter. But that means you have to have top quality forage, different grasses and weeds, grass and weed seeds, and creepy crawlies for them to catch. Keeping other livestock so the chickens can scratch through the poop adds a lot of nutrition. So, do you have top quality forage? If not, you may have to supplement their feed the year around. You might study people that “pasture” poultry to get some details.

If they forage, your risk of losing some to a predator goes up. Some people manage that with well-trained dogs or electric fencing. For some people it’s not a big problem but others lose their entire flock overnight. It’s a whole lot more risk for some than others.

If you can advertise your eggs as free range, you can probably get more per dozen than someone that does not free range. Somehow make your eggs special so you can charge more.

A larger hen, like your barred rocks, will eat more feed than a smaller hen. She has to so she can maintain her larger body. So you may decide to use smaller hens, like the commercial egg laying hybrids or leghorns.

Or can you make your barred rock eggs special, maybe by calling them Heritage eggs or maybe by keeping a rooster and selling them as hatching eggs. If you do that, you need to look at the SOP to see what qualities you need to select for and basically become a breeder. While there is no nutritional difference in fertile or non-fertile eggs, maybe some people will pay more for fertile eggs. Can you get more by selling brown eggs than white? Or would blue or green eggs bring a really high price? Shell color doesn’t affect nutrition either, but many people don’t know that.

The older a hen gets, the less she lays. If you are making it a business, you need to be pretty ruthless in removing your hens as they reduce laying and bring in new young stock to keep the feed to egg conversion up. They can’t be pets with a home forever.

If you can grow some or most of your feed you can usually cut costs, but they still need a balanced diet. Instead of spending money to buy feed, you spend your physical labor to buy that feed.

I don’t know your circumstances. You cannot hope to buy all they eat and compete with the commercial operations. They are just too efficient. But if you can make your eggs special while cutting costs and reducing risks, you might have a chance. Good luck!
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,504
3,601
456
NEK, VT
Feed is the factor and chickens do need feed at all times if one wants full laying potential most foraging grounds wont supply enough.

In my area there are no longer feed mills. Sad that a state like Vermont that promotes it's Agriculture can't sustain an operating mill. But if your in an area that has feed mills your feed will be a fraction of the price. Buy in bulk, even find some neighbors to purchase cooperatvely and you'll see big savings. Or should I say profit.
 

enola

Crowing
11 Years
Jan 23, 2009
13,143
1,470
378
Irwin, Pennsylvania (Pittsburg area)
Another point to boost egg production - putting lights on a timer so the hens have "daylight" for at least 13 hours a day will help your hens to lay right through the shorter days of the winter months.

Make sure you stay one step ahead of the government by following all rules and regulations for selling eggs in your area.

No one else has mentioned keeping your hens as healthy as possible. Protecting them from internal and external parasites is extremely important.

Fermented feeds - FF - check out the thread on how FF is changing chicken keeping.

Producing several different colors of eggs may boost egg sales. Customers love to see "free range" allowing you to charge even more for eggs, but my experience with my hens and free ranging resulted in hens hiding nests. I beat the hens at their own game by not turning them lose until early afternoon.

Good luck with your business adventure!
 
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