Is Raising Your Own Chickens Cost Effective?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by tomsoulm8, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. tomsoulm8

    tomsoulm8 New Egg

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    I know this thread could go in many different directions based on the question I asked, so allow me to elaborate. I am wondering if raising chickens is a way to save money on purchasing store-bought eggs? Has there been any actual research done on its cost-effectiveness? By no means would this be my sole reason for raising chickens, of course, but it would just be another drop of knowledge into my bucket [​IMG]

    I am aware that there are many things taken into account when considering the raising costs such as the big purchase of buying or making a coop. I will more than likely build a coop of my own, so I imagine the cost will not be too high for this. Other things to take into account are feed, bedding, cost of warmth/lighting, etc. - but I have no idea what the actual costs are. Could someone help me out with this, or at least get me pointed in the right direction? I appreciate all of your help - thanks in advance!

    -Angela
     
  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    I think the costs of raising chickens can vary a lot from person to person, but in general even with the cost of building a coop you would have to eat an awful lot of eggs to offset that cost. Maybe if you sold some eggs to recoup the costs it would be different.
     
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It can be cost effective, but it can also be a losing affair. I'm sure there have be studies on if it is cost effective to raise small flock of chickens. I doubt they mean much as everyone who raises chickens has different goals and means. So make a list of the things you'll need and price them out, look in the Internet call feed stores etc. Figure out how many chickens you want to fill your goal. Then start to figure out how to save, making your own, like building your own coop, or cheaper alternatives.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    If flock size is small and self-sustaining where you do not have to buy chicks, you already have other animals being fed with grain, and birds can free range with minimal losses to predators then upkeep is effectively free. That is how we used to operate on our family farm where all inputs where on large animal (swine and cattle) and row crop sides. The birds then cost nothing and for about 8 months of year produced more eggs than we could consume. Raising chickens in a more simplified manner where they are the only product does not work out so well on a small scale. I can come pretty close on feed side but must have dogs to control predation losses and they cost a lot more than flock. Confining flock would reduce need for dog but up the chicken feed bill. In my expereinced, a diversified small operation is the way to go and that requires several acres to pull off and yeild per bird will not be as high as you might like. You also must learn how to manage flock within limits set by the available forage, otherwise you will simply be operating a feedlot that does not work well on small scale.
     
  5. UrbanEnthusiast

    UrbanEnthusiast Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Think about how many dozens of eggs you could buy just with what you spent on the coop.
     
  6. patvetzal

    patvetzal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm always "saving" stuff, so building the coop costs were minimal. In fact I'm on the third coop in 7 years, each one better than the last.
    We have hydro in the coop for lighting and keeping the water "soft" in the winter so we get eggs all year, free range when the garden allows and have had no predator problems other than losing one small bird to a hawk some years ago. Our run is a 50' coil of 2x4 wire that can be moved as season requires.
    My wife sells the odd dozen eggs to friends and this pays for a lot of the food that we buy to augment the table scraps...
     
  7. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To quote a line from a Zac Brown song "there's no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I've come to know". What started out as a 4H project turned into a cottage business for me with many dozens sold. But that being said I got a ways to go before "breaking even" after 3 years.. Was into for about $1500 before the first egg came but that is soup to nuts with an 8X8 raised coop, 10X18 run feeders,waterers,everything with a good amount of reuse material. Here is where the "piece of mind" comes in with so many things. Doing for my kids, the enjoyment of fresh eggs, not buying factory farms eggs from horrid conditions(but will admit never gave it a thought before having chickens), I like doing for myself, building the coop was enjoyable and chickens were the next step in self sustenance to go along with my garden. knowing where your food comes from and what goes into them and a teachable moment for my kids. Sweat equity is rewarding and responsibility gives not only me satisfaction but teaches the kids the same. I am sure there are a bunch more that I have not mentioned but the point is you can't put a $ on these things. It doesn't have to be an expensive venture, be creative. I always look on craigslist for something cheap or free that I could use more so now that flock expansion is in my brain.

    A rough cost is hard to figure because there are many factors. Number of chickens,size of coop and run, do you plan to free range,area you live as prices vary in regions. Along with how handy you are(or spouse is) by doing it yourself. What you can get free from different avenues. So a hard number is tough to calculate. If you have a shed already, maybe use half of it as a coop. Chickens like most animals have costs associated with them, whether they are a pet or livestock. Not unlike your first dog or head of cattle they all come with cost.

    I know this post won't be much in the numbers you were looking for but hope it adds a little clarity from my point of view.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  8. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can certainly break even. Easier if you don't spend a bunch on the coop. But, we did spend on it, it was the first time I got to build my own! Previously it had been refurbished rabbit hutches or dog houses, scrap wood structures thrown together. This time we went for an 8x10 steel shed ($300) and a 10x10 run all secured in proper hardware cloth. Wasn't messing around with raccoons this time either!

    We spend $15 to feed them a month. We get $30 worth in eggs. Sometimes we sell the odd dozen. The real money comes from bird sales, that'll float the whole operation for several months. When I get replacement birds, I go for rare and obscure. There is a large hatchery not 5 miles from us, you can buy 25 layers easy. So I won't buy any breed that they carry unless it's for my own use. I'll spend a small fortune on eggs, but when I go to sell in pairs, I get $30 instead of $10, depending on breed. A Marans will eat the same as a Sexlink. This year I did Swedish Flower hens, since Marans are getting fairly easy to find.

    Some people will buy 100 pullet chicks. Start them, grow them out. Keep 25 for themselves, and sell the other 75 at $10 each or so, enough to profit a couple of dollars each and have a "free" flock for themselves.

    Others sell hatching eggs and chicks out of their own flock. I did that with the ducks, since boy ducks don't crow. I had my laying chickens, and the ducks paid for it. And the dogs, and the cat food. Those ducks paid for everything with some to spare. Work got too busy though, they're not as easy to care for as chickens.
     
  9. barnaclebob

    barnaclebob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you dont include the cost of a coop a flock of a few hens with no egg sales probably breaks even depending on the cost of their feed and what you assume for egg costs. Some people say that organic free range eggs are worth $4 a dozen but would you actually buy $4 a dozen eggs from the store or would you get the $2.50 a dozen eggs?
     
  10. robandglenda

    robandglenda Out Of The Brooder

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    keeping chickens has been quite profitable for us. It depends on what breeds you plan on having. We had some light sussex, plymouth barred rock and some orpingtons which gave us about 5 or 6 eggs each a week. By also having a rooster we were able to seel fertile eggs and had plenty to eat. This was very profitable and now we are breeding fancy breed chickens purely for a hobby so don't worry so much about the cost of keeping them now. The eggs taste alot better and they get treated like royalty.
     

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