Is 300 chickens enough?

moon_cocoon

In the Brooder
May 6, 2018
12
53
31
I'm renovating a piece of property I own and I want to be a small scale homesteader and get to the point where I earn enough money each month from selling eggs to be able to quit my job and focus solely on my stead.

First, is this possible? Does anyone else do this?

Second, is 300 chickens enough? Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorps are what we're considering. We live in Alabama.

I want to earn at least $1500 a month. I figure if all 300 lay about 250 eggs a year (75k) + our few current hens laying about 600 a year and we eat about 4,000 a year (12 a day give or take), then that will leave about 71,600 eggs for the year which = about 497 dozen egg cartons per month. At $3 per dozen (too low or high?), that would yield $1,491 per month or $1,043 after tax.

Should we opt for more than 300 or is 300 a safe bet to earn about $1,500 a month from eggs? We also figure about $300 a month for feed. Sound correct?

Any other advice is greatly appreciated!

**NOTE: We are vegetarians. No chickens will ever be killed or sold for meat. No roosters will will ever be here so there's no fertilization.
 
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oregonkat

Crowing
7 Years
Oct 5, 2012
1,918
2,725
347
Southern Oregon
You are probably going to need to do a demographic study. Who and where is your competition? To whom and where are you planning on selling your eggs? Distance travelled for sales, etc.
Housing for that many hens, healthy housing, is going to be expensive. Are you planning on going organic? If so, will your sales demographic support that and again if so, your price may be low per dozen (again check the competition). Organic certification is difficult and very expensive, although worth it in my book but that's my book, not necessarily yours. Have you considered the feed costs which are also going to be high.
Free ranging that many hens is going to be hard on your land, rotation property is going to be needed.
Are you planning on other folks helping you and if so, the cost of the labor? Do you have other animals that are contributing to your farm or are you specializing in only eggs?

Farming is hard, hard, work I am sure you already know this. I farm a small number of chickens and sell the eggs, I also sell cut flowers and vegetables but all of this doesn't pay me much at all when you consider my labor. I manage to pay for the feed for the hens and the nutrients for the garden and thats about it.

Dont get me wrong, I LOVE my country lifestyle and I wouldn't change it. Just make sure you have done your homework before making that kind of investment!
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
5,973
11,009
642
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I guess my question with your plan is what will you do with hens once they get older and stop laying with regular frequency? Are you still willing to feed hundreds of older birds that are no longer contributing regularly? If not, what is the plan to get rid of those birds, as you won't be eating them (and I assume don't want to see them get eaten either).

As far as price per dozen, I can't answer that as I don't know what prices are like in your area. In my area eggs can go for almost $10 a dozen, but that's definitely not the norm in most areas of the country.
 

moon_cocoon

In the Brooder
May 6, 2018
12
53
31
Thank y'all for your input.

We'll be utilizing just shy of a 1/4 of an acre for the birds. It will be divided into 2 sections and they will rotate between the two to allow for each side to grow back as needed. Hopefully that makes sense.

Yes, we will continue to feed the older birds. As soon as they're here, this will be their forever home. We figure the feed bill will be about $300 for all 300 based on research that indicated $30 per 30 chickens per month.

No other help. It will be my mother and myself. I work full time and she stays home caring for everyone until I'm able to come home either from selling eggs (among other items like produce, etc) or my virtual assistant business I'm starting. No other animals will be contributing because we don't want to have to breed cows or goats strictly for milk/cheese and take away from babies.

We will be building their coops and runs using an earthbag method which will drastically save on the cost of housing.

And we are considering going organic in the future but not right now.
 

moon_cocoon

In the Brooder
May 6, 2018
12
53
31
Yup, rosemarythyme brings up an excellent point. Aging hens are going to happen quickly especially if you are planning on using production birds. They age quicker due to the production of so many eggs per year than the heritage birds and then you are going to have to have a plan for dealing with them.
We are still ironing out the details but our plan for when that happens is to simply build a separate area to accommodate them.
 

SavKel&RynKel

Free Ranging
Mar 16, 2018
673
1,683
532
Bay Area, California
My Coop
My Coop
If you want 300 chickens to lay 250 eggs per year, you'll have them produce for a few years and live a few more... That means in a few years you'll have to feed 500 chickens, to get the same amount of eggs. (Depending on your rotation and actual egg production etc.) And the ones that live ten years or more are really going to limit your income.
Good luck!
Ryn.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,610
26,710
907
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
How much total land do you have available? How close are your neighbors? What are your zoning ordinances? If you are planning on keeping 300 birds on 1/4 acre, you are going to have them standing up to their wings in chicken poop before they even start laying. What are you going to do for manure management, fly management, rodent management? That many birds on that small a parcel of land is going to poison the soil with excess N and P. You will be feeding them for at least 4 to possibly 6 months before you see your first egg. For my laying flock of 30 birds, I'm using a bag of feed/week. At $12 - 13.00/bag, that's closer to $50/mo. If you have no plans to cull your older birds, within 2 years time, you will be spending $50.00/mo. and not selling very many eggs. Your egg quality will also decrease as your birds age. You will see a lot of weak shells, broken eggs, shells with calcium deposits. When those gals stop laying, what then? Will you continue to spend $50.00/mo. for a retirement colony of pooping old biddies?
 

Mylied

Crowing
7 Years
Mar 12, 2012
2,185
2,454
372
Middle Georgia
I think you should start smaller. You'll need a lot of customers to support that many chickens. 1/4 acre cut in half does not sound nearly enough for 300 chickens. Hens only produce well for two years and can live 10. It's sweet wanting to retire them, but not financially practical for your goals you stated. Start small, maybe 20 hens, build your customer base, see how it is raising them, and go from there.
 
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