How do you break even?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by lambeke1, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. lambeke1

    lambeke1 In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    This is my first endeavor with chickens. I originally thought about getting 12 but ended up with 26 (that chicken math I read about hit me before I even got my first one). I have 6 Delaware, 6 Buff Orpington, 6 Dominique, and 8 RIR (1 rooster). They are 7 months old and very healthy. Not all are laying yet, I'm getting about 13 eggs a day. I'm spending about $50/month on feed. So far I have about $10/bird invested in feed. That's more than double what you pay in the store for the meat. I didn't really get in this to save money but I certainly didn't want to double my grocery bill. Wasn't real sure what I was going to do, i.e. eggs, meat, or both. I'm leaning toward both but can't see the economical value in it. Am I doing something wrong? I'm thinking about hatching some eggs in the spring and raising them for the meat. I'm not looking to make money but I am getting more eggs than we can eat and I was thinking about selling some to help with the feed bill. I have so many questions. Please excuse the rambling.

  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Simple... you don't break even when you are doing it on a small scale.... and if you have never prepared or eaten chicken that wasn't from the store, you'll be in for a big surprise when you find how "little" and how tough the meat is on a 7+ month old bird. The meat birds you find in the store are about 42 days old and bred for their meat making abilities unlike the dual/layers you got.

    When looking at pure cost, you just can't compete with 1.50/lb chicken and $3 dozen eggs. Shoot, you will likly have a hard time competing with $7.99lb whole chicken and $5 dozen eggs if you can't by feed by the ton and order chicks by the thousands.
  3. WhetzelMomma

    WhetzelMomma Songster

    Sep 8, 2009
    You'll never compete cost wise with "store bought" chickens. You need to shift your frame of reference. The simple fact is, that food in our country, if it comes from Big Industrial Ag. sells at well below the cost of what it ACTUALLY costs to raise them. The overhead of an industrial chicken farm is astronomical. There are very few farmers that could ever dig their way out of the debt they have put themselves into to be chicken farmers.

    Personally, I look at my costs from several angles. My animals live good lives, are loved, (and usually named) and that means more to me than competing with the cost of chicken at the grocery store. Like I said, if you really look at what the REAL cost of food is, you'd see that most of what we buy at regular grocery stores AREN'T as much as they should be. There are subsidies, etc. That help lower the CONSUMER'S costs, but in fact, those "fixes" are really just bandaides on a gaping wound in the food industry.

    As to "breaking even" and if it's possible... that has a lot of factors to it. I trade eggs with my Father in Law for all the hay my goats can eat. The eggs I sell help counter my cost to buy feed, and at peak season, my egg sales pay for both my chicken AND my goat grains. When I figure in that then I'm also able to butcher my roosters from my hatches, I consider that I didn't have to PAY to buy the kind of chicken I want to eat. (ie: humanely raised, humanely butchered, free range, etc.) Those kind of chickens go for about $5.00 a pound here, so my chickens, even though they are smaller, are still "worth" $10-15 dollars even on the small end of the scale. That's money I didn't spend to raise them.

    Plus, I value the fact that I don't have to BUY eggs... (they kind I would want to buy go for about $2.50-$3.00 here) and that any food we don't eat as a family is eaten by the chickens. No more wasted yogurt, leftovers, or scraps!! Then factor in the OTHER part of my chickens that is valuable: Their POOP. They give me FREE fertilizer that I could also easily sell to others if I didn't use it on my own garden. One bag of chicken poo fertilizer here will run you about $15.00. For a 20lb bag. I get WAY more than that from my chickens, and in the winter, I pour that into my sleeping garden, let the chickens in, and they scratch it into my soil, AND keep the weeds from growing. PLUS, I don't have to till anymore.

    So, will you break even? That depends on how much value you put on the things you won't actually SEE money from, but will benefit from. It also means you can't compare apples to oranges. (big ag vs. small farm) At least that's how I look at it.
  4. screager312

    screager312 Chirping

    Dec 9, 2010
    I have a total of 25 with only 5 laying right now dropped down from 8. I sell ALL of my eggs I get and I cover my monthly feed for the chickens. If I can do it on 5 to 8 eggs a day you should be able to on 13.

    I sell my eggs for $3 a dozen and have customers waiting on eggs. Will be glad whem the rest are laying.

  5. LilyD

    LilyD Songster

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    What I do to try to break even is to sell any extra eggs that I have. Up here in New England I am getting 3$ a dozen and there are some people that sell their eggs for as much as 4.50$ a dozen. During the year I free range the chickens spring summer and fall up until the snow gets too deep so they only are unable to free range about 3 months during the really harshest part of winter. Right now they are still free ranging because it's cold but we have no snow. Any time I cook in the house I will save the scraps for them pretty much anything I would eat including the meat which gives them extra protein. Spring through fall they don't eat very much for pellets and I can go all week on about 4 pounds of food for 16 birds. They get most of their food from the yard by eating the bugs and fruits that grow in the yard. I also feed them back their own egg shells anytime I cook the eggs which gives them back calcium without paying money for supplements.

    This year I am also going to be hatching eggs. I will be selling any girls that are from the hatching that we don't need to keep for my breeding program and processing the boys for meat. Up here if you are able to keep them until you know if they are boys or girls you can get anywhere from 10$ to 15$ for the pullets. So far just with selling eggs alone I have not had to use anything but egg money to buy food for them since they started producing eggs. I have a clientele that will ask for eggs so other than the 18 I keep each month all the rest of the eggs get eaten. Will be fun to see if I can come out ahead this year rather than just breaking even.

    By the way I have 31 chickens 8 of which are roos the rest are hens. Not in it really to make money but kind of nice that it will pay for itself to some extent.
  6. muddylilly

    muddylilly In the Brooder

    Mar 1, 2011
    Maybe put up some of your "pullets" for sale of craigslist and cut back to a more reasonable number for your family? If you sell them now, you might be able to recoup your investment on them. Just keep in mind that now you have too many eggs, next winter (and when they all decide to molt at the same time) you'll probably buy eggs once in a while.....they don't lay forever.

    Allow more "forage" feeding or kitchen scraps, to cut back on feed bill?

    Decide to really focus on selling eggs as opposed to selling a "few" here and there....get an established clientele, and switch to a breed like redstar (sometimes called goldstar) or blackstar. They are laying machines, very light weight so they don't require as much feed either. Of course you will need to be proactive in management with agressive culling and replacement flocks after a year or so........

    OR......take what Whetzelmomma posted to heart. (Well said by the way) Maybe read some Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, Joel Salatin (although he can be a bit ranty), or Jane Goodall's final book, Harvest for Hope, is what I believe its titled. Perspective is everything. "Breaking even" has so many variables much did you put into housing the birds? are you paying mortgage, taxes and insurance on the space they occupy (ie: your backyard)? how much is your TIME worth?
    Just think about how YUMMY those eggs are comparatively! And as the primary grocery shopper in my family.....I love not having to dodge around everyone else at the egg cooler checking for broken ones. What fun to just walk on by! [​IMG]
    Congratulations on your birds! Best of luck!
  7. lambeke1

    lambeke1 In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    Quote:I originally thought I would do this for the eggs but decided with the dual purpose to keep my options open. If I just keep the birds I have and hatched some eggs to raise for meat, when should I butcher? It seems it was a good 4 months or better before they were big enough to consider butchering.

  8. lambeke1

    lambeke1 In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    Thanks everyone for responding, your comments and support are greatly appreciated. I still have a lot to learn and I value every bit of info I can get.
  9. CluckyJay

    CluckyJay Songster

    Feb 23, 2011
    Crossville, Tennessee
    You'd be surprised at how cheaply you can raise chickens when you can grow/catch a lot of their food. I'm not even spending 10.00 a month to feed all of them and my goats. I am not sure about the meaties though. Never raised those.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012

  10. lambeke1

    lambeke1 In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    Quote:Could you please give me some ideas? I was planning to grow a vegetable garden in the spring for us and the chickens. I am also trying to feed them scraps but thats a practice in progress.

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