Decreasing the financial burden of raising chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by polychickens, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. polychickens

    polychickens Out Of The Brooder

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    As far as the expense of raising chickens goes, I understand that these eggs will be considerably more expensive than store-bought. The fact that they are healthier must be weighed by the fact that I could buy similar 'healthy' eggs from a number of farmer kids for $1.50/dozen.

    I don't mind spending a little more to have the chickens on site, but I continue to look for ways to make this 'hobby' a little less expen$ive.

    Ultimately, I would love to have the chickens support themselves financially, and consider my hours of labor to be the only out-of-pocket 'expense.' I am far from this point, but I think it is a sensible goal. So far, I can see that I need to find a cheaper source of feed and pine shreads in bulk in order to help this cause. I do not have the acreage to allow the chickens to simply find their own food.

    I do augment their food with excess garden produce when available. Right now, the persimmons are ripening and the chickens eat more than 100 per day.

    I probably need to hatch some free chickens too and maximize my numbers, but that may be throwing good money after bad...at least until my current flock is all producing and helping support themselves.

    These are just some brainstorming ideas. Have any of you arrived at a point where your flock is nearly supporting itself? I'd love some more ideas.

    Please realize that this thread isn't intended for those of you who raise chickens as pets/family members, etc. I realize your priorities are different. I am hoping for some replies here other than 'saving money isn't the point' because I'm just trying to be a bit more practical.

    Polychickens
    36 hens including RHode Islands, New Hamps, Barred Rocks, Bro Leghorns, Americaunas, 2 Buff Orps, plus one RIR rooster and 3 Bro leghorn roosters
     
  2. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

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    You really have three factors that you can control which will impact your bottomline:
    1. Output - with 36 hens, you should get an average of 30 eggs per day minimum. If your daily feed cost is about $2.50 (that is mine for 33 hens), that equates to a feed cost of $1.00 per dozen produced. If you have a few non-layers taking up space and are only getting 24 eggs, your cost goes up to $1.25 per dozen. It is important to identify and cull those non-layers as soon as possible.
    Genetics are also important and if economics is important you want to make sure you have good layers like sex-links, leghorns, australorps, etc.
    2. Feed cost - you have to be careful here. If you cut down the cost of feed, you may actually increase your feed cost per dozen eggs produced because of lower output. An example:
    Farmer A - feed cost is $11.00 per 50# (good ration), and he feeds a bag per week. His cost per day is $1.57.
    Farmer B - feed cost is $ 8.00 per 50# (corn, oats, etc), and he feeds a bag per week. His cost is $1.14.
    Farmer A gets 30 eggs per day and Farmer B gets 18...
    so even though farmer B has cheaper feed his feed cost per dozen eggs produced is higher ($.76 per $.63 per dozen)
    3. Revenue - what can you price your eggs at? I'm able to sell my eggs for $2.50 per dozen and pullet eggs at $1.50 per dozen. Maximizing revenue is as important as controlling costs.

    For benchmark purposes:
    My feed cost is $1.00 per dozen
    My supply and bedding costs are $0.15 per dozen
    Breeding stock cost is $0.05 per dozen
    Coop cost is $0.40 per dozen
    Total cost is $1.60 per dozen
    Revenue is $2.50 per dozen
    Profit about $0.90 per dozen or about $650 per year.

    If you are good with spreadsheets, I have one that tracks all my costs and revenues on a monthly basis and would be happy to send it to you.

    Of course, even if I was losing $650 per year I would still have the flock. Their non-monetary rewards are fantastic!!!
     
  3. polychickens

    polychickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Eggcellent Mayberry!! This is the kind of info I am looking for. I would love to have your spreadsheet for tracking expenses. I'll try to pmail you.
    Polychickens
     
  4. serendipity22

    serendipity22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Money saving tips...

    Well, when you do finally get the eggs coming in droves, they can be sold. Are there any upscale neighborhoods that you can target and sell the eggs to for $2 or $3 a dozen or 2 dozen for $5? That's helping me at least come close to breaking even with the feed.

    As far as selling chicks, I guess it depends on your area. You would most likely have to incubate the eggs unless you get lucky with broody hens, but there in lies the problem that broody hens don't lay eggs. So say you have a broody hen that lays and hatches 10 chicks. If you can sell them for anywhere from $1 to $2 a piece, you would make either $10 or $20 a batch. I guess the same goes with an incubator... If your lucky and have great hatches, you could have a batch of chicks every 21 days... But that's alot of work!! And would you be willing to raise and eat any extras? Or dispatch them in some other way?

    I really don't think that I've helped you.

    I think that once all of your ladies start producing it'll help with the cost... When you can sell the eggs...

    **Breed that RIR to those Barred rocks and get some Black Sex Links. They are great layers and don't go broody. I know that you can breed a RIR to a White Leghorn and get Red Sex Links and they are laying machines. Don't know how it works with brown leghorns though...

    In the spring, people love to buy the BSL's and RIR chicks at the feed store. At least, that's what my friends always are looking for!

    Good Luck and I hope it works out for you!!

    I posted after MayberrySaint and she's got it all figured out!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  5. mdbucks

    mdbucks Cooped Up

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    Quote:Quote: SHES got it figured out all right [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  6. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For bedding, I get it free. My local feed store lets me clean up from under where he holds the bales of straw. The stuff is loose, so I get a huge box from behind the furnature store and load it up. I am doing him a favor by cleaning up, and the hens enjoy scratching about for the bits of seed in the straw. Just make sure it is dry and not moldy. I don't know if you could find a situation like this in your area.
     
  7. SandraChick

    SandraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    my gang of 8 (recently turned 10) is paying for themselves already....but I don't sell the eggs- I give the extra's away to friends and neighbors.

    I fortunately do have the space to freerange- it is a huge cost savings as they hardly eat any feed.

    I get wood shavings from cabinet makers...I just give them a garbage can and I "pick up". I use it for multch in my flower beds and garden as well.

    Many grocery stores will give you their wilted/bruised fruits/veggies if you tell them it's for animals.

    I use freecycle.org and Craigs list to get cheap or free items that I need.

    I got my first 5 chickens at the animal shelter for free (1 was already laying, 1 rooster, and 3 pullets)

    Saturday, I picked up two jersey giants almost ready to lay for free just talking chickens with some folks that came to my yard sale. They were moving and needed to downsize---of course my chickens were roaming during the sale! Got a rooster too, and told them I'd take it if they understood it would end up on the dinner table. It's in the fridge as I type.

    Sandra
     
  8. serendipity22

    serendipity22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    MDBUCKS, did I screw up? Is MayberrySaint a guy? I'm sorry! Girls like football too, ya know!!
    [​IMG]

    OK, I'm an idiot. Thanks for pointing it out! You do good work and I am illiterate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I keep a spreadsheet of costs and revenue for my birds and I break even for maintenance of the birds but not the initial start up. I pick up free bedding for the outdoor runs after haloween from the local grocery stores and free range the birds during the day over as much area as they are willing to travel. I sell eggs for $3 a dozen, meat for $2lb (extra roos), and sell chicks in the spring.. I don't think I could ever make money off of them though.
     
  10. mdbucks

    mdbucks Cooped Up

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    Quote:sorry didn't mean to bust on you, I was just pointing it out to Mayberry [​IMG]
     

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