Questions on Economics....

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by TwinWillowAcres, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. TwinWillowAcres

    TwinWillowAcres In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2012
    How much electricity do you use to keep a 250W bulb on 24/7?

    How much feed do you go through? (please tell me in lbs) At what age? How many are you feeding? What breed? I'm primarily interested in White Leghorns & Red Stars for a commercial flock and then White Rocks for a little side project. When do you switch from Chick Starter to Chick Grower to Chick Layer? I'm going to be feeding Southern States brand feed because that is what is available to me. How do you like it, if you feed it?

    I'm thinking about getting 75 chicks, but I will be selling all but about 15-30 of them. How easy have you found it to be to sell chicks (of the breeds I've mentioned) at 16-20 wks old for about $15-$20 each? I'm in Frederick County, MD if that gives you an idea of my market... However, I've already decided if I can't sell chicks by 24-28 wks old, I will be taking them to auction and hoping to get at least $5/hd off of them.

    Thank you for your input!

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Lots of detailed questions there. I'll try to help you with just a few of them, but honestly, when you crunch the numbers on chickens, there's little to no profit, and in most cases, there's a loss. This is a hobby or interest, even a life style, but a profitable business? Not really.

    Southern States contracts their feed manufacturing out and it is good feed. Chick starter is normally fed through week 7 or 8, but you could feed it all the way to point of lay. Depending on the breed, they won't lay until week 18 at the very earliest. Only then is Layer feed appropriate because it is laced with calcium that only a hen expelling a calcium made egg shell virtually everyday needs to be eating. It is inappropriate for pre-laying birds to be eating Layer.

    If you wish to feed Grower from week 8 through 18, that is fine. Some people do, some don't.

    Electricity to run a 250wt lamp will make your meter spin. Let's not pretend it won't. With 25 chicks, you'll have to give thought to having two of them. One won't make a large enough circle of heat for that many bodies.

    Finally selling adolescent birds is iffy. Craigslist and other listings sometimes net good results. Sometimes the phone doesn't ring. No one can predict with absolute certainty the sales. Cockerels are often difficult to get any money for.

    When you figure that you also have $3 in the day old chick, on average, then you add the bedding costs, equipment, electricity, and all that feed, you can see why we do this for fun and enjoyment. Breaking even is a huge accomplishment.
    Hope that helps a little.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  3. CowgirlPenny

    CowgirlPenny Songster

    Feb 17, 2011
    South East TN
    Fred has excellent information for you.

    To add to that, regarding Craigslist...I've had good luck selling hens here locally for $8-$10 each depending on the breed. There are always multiple responses so either those are desirable breeds, or I am under pricing, not sure.
  4. TwinWillowAcres

    TwinWillowAcres In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2012
    Thank you for the information. It is good to know I can feed just chick starter until they start to lay.

    As for heat lamps--do you really need them? I know when I worked at a petting farm in October, we brooded chicks without a heat lamp. There were probably anywhere from 15-30 chicks in an 8x4 pen and none of them died for any reason. All the other chicks that were hatching were moved to a stall with a broody hen. She had up to 50 babies at once before the older ones were taken to auction.

    I was also looking on a hatchery web site and they said you can get by with a 100W bulb if you have under 50 birds. I think if I do 50 birds & concentrate on just two breeds, it would be adequate, should the chicks decide they need a source of heat.
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Wattage is also results in a measure of heat produced. That's the point, I guess.

    If you lived in some place where daytime temps, in the shade were a nice 90F? Perfect. But day old chicks need a constancy that mimics the brooding mother hen's body temperature. What happens at night when the temp falls into the 60's?

    What would happen is this. The chicks will pile up in search of body heat. The suffocation losses would be horrendous.

    A 100 watt lamp would create a circle, in 75 degree ambient air, that might, might warm 8-10 chicks. That's about all you could expect. There isn't a set formula here. What has to happen is that 50 chicks need to be warmed to 90F for the first week and that temp is gradually reduced. At 5 weeks, they are mostly feathered out and are quite comfortable with 50-80 ambient air temperatures. This is as much art as science.

    Chick's that chirp and pile on? Cold. Chicks that spread out, avoid the heat circle, stand with wings held out and pant? They're being cooked and will die. This is why one adjusts, adapts and tweaks. The good thing about "formulas" regarding heat and age of the chicks is that it is a guideline, a starting point. Formulas cannot possibly take into the variables which can be endless. How many chicks. What ambient air temps. These are variables that the keeper must adjust to and keep on adjusting all the way through the brooding period.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013

  6. TwinWillowAcres

    TwinWillowAcres In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2012
    Thank you, Fred. I guess it will just have to be a trial-and-error type thing. I will start with a 100W bulb and see how the chicks behave. I will either add a second 100W bulb or just replace it with a 250W bulb.

    I was planning on brooding them in my garage, which is insulated, so it's about 10-20 degrees warmer than outside. And I was planning on getting chicks in mid- to late-March, after my ewes drop their lambs, so the weather shouldn't be too bad.

    By the way--how do you feel about a 12' wide blow-up pool (3 or 4' tall) as a brooder? My mom bought one for us when we were little and we barely used it and it's just sitting in a box in our garage. I figure it's about 113 sq ft. Should I section it off first and as they get older allow them more space? How do you think I should cover it? We have about 14-18 cats depending on the day that regularly catch & eat swallows so I'm sure they wouldn't mind a plump little chick confined in a pool!

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