Doubling my production

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by UncleHoot, May 14, 2009.

  1. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    I haven't posted here in quite awhile, so I'll just update everyone on what I'm doing this year.

    This year, we seemed to be inundated with chicken orders. We planned to purchase 150 chicks in mid-April, and before the end of March, we already had around 140 spoken for. I had to ask some folks to split their order into the next batch.

    So, I did some calculations and realized that for 150 cornish X's, it would be about 1.5 tons of feed. Holy smokes! If I continued to pay $13/bag, that would be real pricey real quick. So, I called around and found feed for about $11/bag. I crunched some numbers and started thinking that I should be able to do better than that.

    Long story short, I'm buying Hubbard Homestead "Chick-En-Egg Concentrate" then mixing it with a ton of ground corn (literally 1 ton) that I bought from a farmer-friend of mine. I paid a bit more than he could sell it for on the open market, then got it ground for around $11 (well, just 1,000 lbs so far), bought a cheap cement mixer, and started mixing. I just got the cement mixer put together last night, so I've only mixed 50 lbs so far.

    Anyway, it works out to around $9.25/bag, not including the cost of the cement mixer ($109 on sale from Harbor Freight). Since I'm planning on selling the processed chickens for $2/lb, I might actually make a couple hundred bucks or so, at least if I amortize the new pen and other new equipment.

    So, I've been pretty busy with the meat chicken "business" so far. I'm still raising them on "pasture" (my yard) now with 2 tarp-covered PVC pens that I built myself. 150 is probably all I can handle at a time. I've got half outside, and half still in the brooder (bought them a week apart).

    It's still just a hobby for me, and will continue to remain just a hobby. However, with the volume and cost risks associated, I surely don't mind making a small profit at this point.

    We're starting another batch in July, but I'm not sure how many it will be. Also, I may do some Rangers (Colored Range Broilers, Freedom Rangers, whatever they are called now) again this year, or maybe the second batch will be entirely Rangers. I haven't decided yet.
     
  2. steveo

    steveo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So do you just raise all the chickens because you enjoy it or do you want to make money for it? I was just curious because that seems like alot of birds lol.
     
  3. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    Quote:Both [​IMG]

    I used to do it only because I enjoyed it. If I sold enough chickens to cover the costs, I was happy. But now the demand has increased to such an extent, that it might start feeling like "work" at times, so a small profit might help keep it fun. [​IMG] It's about 5 weeks until the first half go to the processer, so it might be interesting to take notice as to how I feel about the whole thing at that point.

    I'm a computer programmer in "real life", and this chicken-farming-thing is about as far as I can get from computers, so it's really a nice switch for me. We sell the spring batch of processed chickens a few days before the 4th of July, which gives us some spending money for vacation purposes.

    If someone did their own processing, and actively marketed their chickens, I have no doubts that a person could make a few thousand dollars over the summer in my area. Everything that we have done has spread word-of-mouth. Pretty soon, we may have to start turning people away. I simply can't handle more than about 300 chickens per summer.
     
  4. Peruvian

    Peruvian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How are they raised? Are they on pasture? $2/lb seems unbelievably cheap to me. Most pastured chicken around here is at least $3.75/lb and organic/pastured are closer to $5/lb.
     
  5. cstacatto

    cstacatto Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2009
    Lakewood
    Do you have to get inspected or anything for that purpose? I'm sure here in nj we would have to get inspected pay a crap load of fees, and pay a ton of taxes....[​IMG] I was just wondering if you do get inspected by the health department.
     
  6. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    Quote:There is some sort of Federal exemption for small-time chicken farmers (less than 20,000 birds/year). But I don't believe that applies to me either, since I have the birds processed elsewhere.

    There may be some other legal problems, if I freeze them before selling, for instance. But until the food police [​IMG] knock on my door, I'm not going to worry too much about it. Most people pick up their orders on processing day, as I don't have the space to freeze them all.

    Having said that, I actually think that everything I'm doing is legal. I'm not aware of any laws being broken, as the sale takes place before the chickens are slaughtered, and the processor is licensed. It's certainly not something I'm going to lose sleep over.
     
  7. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    Quote:I probably could charge more. If I can make $1-2 per chicken, I'm content. If I was actually trying to make money, I might be more inclined to find that optimal price point.

    My costs come out to around $600 per pen-batch of 75 chicks raised to 8 1/2 weeks. Assuming 5 lbs avg dressed weight, that's $10/chicken at $2/lb. Figure in 5% loss and I might make a little over $100. If they dress-out bigger (6 lbs avg), I could make $200 or more, or I could opt to sell them a little cheaper.

    Mostly, I don't want to price-out the average consumer. That's just my own personal feelings on the issue. I'd like anyone in my neighborhood to think, "While $2/lb is more than I pay in the grocery store, I think it's worth it, because your chicken tastes better." These people comprise about half of my orders. The other half seems to be from the "alternative foods" crowd, which may be willing to pay substantially more. Who knows. I don't plan to find out.

    Yes, I get the people that say, "$2/lb??? I can get one from the grocery store for half that!" and then act like I'm going to knock the price down. Those people also probably think I should sell for less than the grocery store, and be happy if anyone buys, because my chickens can't possibly be as good as the factory-farmed grocery store variety. I don't really want their business, as they don't see the added value to begin with, and I've learned that it often doesn't help to try to explain the difference.
     
  8. Peruvian

    Peruvian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You sound like a good man, UncleHoot. I just hate to see anyone undervaluing their time/effort/product because the 'customers' don't understand the realities. Hopefully your neighbors help clear your driveway or walks of snow in the winter!
     
  9. ltlchicken

    ltlchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2008
    Quote:i've been looking at the grocery price of chickens lately and pasture raised/organic chickens can't be bought for less than $2. they're compairing oranges to apples. if they can find fresh, pasture raised chicken for less than $2 a pound, i figure they dreamed it.

    the next batch, i would do $2.50 a pound. that way, you won't have to ask your customers to split their orders and you'll make the same profit without more work. jmo
     
  10. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    Quote:You are correct. I may eventually raise my prices, but for now, I'm making a few bucks, so I'm not too concerned.

    And yes, also raising the price only a few cents per pound would have a dramatic increase in my profit margin. Even just going from $2 to $2.10 would be $0.50/chicken X 150 = $75, and most of my customers probably wouldn't notice the difference. It's something I'm considering, but if I bumped up the price, it would probably be to $2.25/lb, just to make the calculations easier.

    There are other folks around me that raise "farm raised" chickens. They don't pasture them like I do, and most of my customers don't know the difference, so my wife and I are putting together a brochure explaining our philosophy and methods.

    This next batch, I may raise a bunch of the Ranger types, for which I'll mention that they "often sell for over $5 per pound in European markets." Ideally, I'd like to go further into that niche of the niche market, in which case I wouldn't have a problem charging $2.50/lb or maybe more.
     

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