small time breeder - worth the effort?

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by Caprice_Acres, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Caprice_Acres

    Caprice_Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hope I'm putting this in the right place - Let me tell a little about my situation first, questions after:

    I own many kinds of poultry, and am considering putting up breeding pens this spring for the chickens in particular. I would like to not only keep my roosters separate MOST of the time, but to be able to separate my girls for purebred hatching eggs regularly. I'd actually like to have a rooster with 4-5 hens housed together during the spring/early summer, and market hatching eggs on a weekly basis. If I can sell hatching eggs for more than I can eggs for eating, it may be worth it IMO.

    With chickens, I have New Hampshires, EE's, SL wyandottes, White Leghorns, Australorps, and Rhode Island Reds. Most of these are 'hatchery' stock - though I bought the SL wyandottes, RIR, and some of the white leghorns as eggs from a local breeder who supplies many 4-H'ers and keeps what he claims are 'exhibition' quality. All I know is that they lay well, which is my main concern. I do not show, nor do I know anything about showing nor do I care to. I think productive animals are far more important than 'pretty' animals, and from what I understand, show chickens lines are often much less productive than egg laying strains... which IMO is silly. [​IMG]

    We have a group of 4 pearl guineas - two males, two females.

    I also have Welsh Harlequin ducks, what I'm told are 'good' quality. Metzers stock mainly, though one of the gold hens I was told had parent stock from Holderreads. I've got two silver drakes - one is silver/silver, the other is silver/gold. 4 of the hens are gold and are my parent stock, 4 of the hens are silver/gold and along with the silver/gold drake, are 2011 hatch that I raised here.

    My muscovies come in many colors - Blue, black, silver, lilac, blue fawn, chocolate and white. Patterns include solid, bibbed, ducliar pied, color crested white. I also have some barreds in the group, a drake and two hens. I select for duclair pied, because with that pattern they are white breasted (for meat), but still are fairly colorful, with a 'saddle' of color on their back. They dress out well but still are pretty. [​IMG]

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    Right now everybody free ranges, and I have ways to separate up to 4 breeds, but the pens are NOT ideal and the housing consists of dog houses... more trouble than they're worth to separate out the breeds, IMO. I'd rather design a better way to get purebred chicken eggs. As for the ducks, I had great sucess simply penning the WH's every night and collecting eggs in the AM, then letting them out to free range with the Muscovies. They did NOT mingle with the 'scovies, and I did not have a single mule hatch last year - and I hatched quite a few under muscovy hens last year. [​IMG] I would advertise that there is a POSSIBILITY of mules, and would send extra eggs. My muscovies start multiple nests per year, but I am tentatively planning on suppling several 'range nests' to offer them some ideal nestbuilding areas instead of them finding areas to lay eggs which don't always work out.

    Now that you know a little about what I have - what I'm wondering is, should I be placing effort into online/shipped sales of purebred hatching eggs? Is there a market for the kind/quality of birds I'm offering? Is there potential profit? Are there health tests/vaccines I should do on the parent stock? What is NPIP?
     
  2. RAREROO

    RAREROO Overrun With Chickens

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    It is very hard to make a profit in selling poultry, unless you have something imported, a new project color that you originated, or something very rare,( and even this benefit doesn't last long) you won't be making much profit in poultry, you would at most get back your feed expenses and maybe a little extra. Also one thing have also personally found is that it is far better to only sell eggs ( eating and/or hatching) and chicks, it is not worth growing off birds to sell. I have found in my own experience that a flock of hens can pay for their own feed with the money from their chicks and eggs, but when you are raising up birds to sell and not getting anything from them while they are growing, then that's when a feed bill really starts running up. So mostly you have to mainly do it for the love of it to be a small time breeder and that's what makes it worth it.

    And NPIP is the National Poultry Improvement Plan where birds are tested for a couple speficic diseases yearly and its required to legally ship live birds, though some POs don't know this and don't ask for the paperwork.
     
  3. Caprice_Acres

    Caprice_Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't want to raise up birds, and I realize that's a money pit. [​IMG] I don't want the headache of shipping day olds either, I'd prefer to ship eggs.

    We do raise some meat birds and do well with those sales, but they're broilers or BBW turkeys, not breeding stock. I'd have prefered to sell all my 'scovies this year as ducklings... but despite not being able to produce enough for demand last year, I sold maybe a dozen as ducklings this year. We've butchered probably close to 30 'scovies this year because we had so few duckling sales... not my idea of fun. I don't mind butchering chickens/turkeys, but ducks are a ton of work.

    I would like my chickens to break even or make a profit. Currently eggs for consumption we're selling at 2.00/dozen for chicken, 3.00/dozen for duck. We're pretty darn sure we're not profiting at that price, despite having a custom feed mix and not using pre-bagged expensive stuff. We figure if we raised the eggs by .50 or 1.00 per dozen, we wouldn't sell any. If I could sell some semi-regularly for hatching at even .50/egg for chicken eggs, we'd be doing better. I figure if I can expand my market I have better chances of breaking even/profiting.
     
  4. Mr. Ree

    Mr. Ree Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The reason people offer hatching eggs is for the opportunity to improve on the breed(s) they raise. Goes along those lines you mentioned of a pretty chicken not being worth anything. Depending on what you breed, SQ birds are bred to a standard, and if the bird is supposed to be a fluent layer, odds are they lay pretty well. But that doesnt mean that the same bird could be taken out of a breeer pen and put into a show room and not fit in. There is alot more to breeding "pretty" chickens then just simply that, they tend to be healthier and all together a better bird than most hatchery birds, or birds bred to lay more eggs in its life than to deficate. Not to say those birds arent worth anything, but generally speaking, alot goes into breeding for quality birds, and most of it isnt just to make a pretty chicken, its to better the breed in type and in vigor, etc. As far as selling hatching eggs to make a profit, probably wont happen unless you raise some sort of exhibition or nice breeder quality birds.


    ~Casey
     
  5. pamperedpoultry

    pamperedpoultry CHICKENFIED

    I dont ship grown birds or chics, doesn't seem worth the hassle, although I might in the future. I do sell my hatching eggs, and have several different breeds. It all depends mostly in the spring and summer what I sale in eggs pays for their upkeep and feed, a few weeks I might get a lil more or a lil less. If I didn't sell my eggs I couldn't afford to keep mine or the amount I have anyways. To raise and sell them, at the time when I'm getting paid it might seem like "wooohooo extra cash" but if I really set down and thought and figured I'd say I really went in the whole after counting feed and my time.. But selling eggs to hatch is a good way to help with the feed bill.. Are you goin to get rich nope LOL..
     
  6. dickhorstman

    dickhorstman Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    You will never know till you try. I think it will be hard to fill orders with fresh eggs from only 4-5 hens. Fertility declines rapidly after an egg has been laid more than 7 days. We dont send eggs that are more than 3 days old. Add those 3 days to the 3-4 days shipping. We raise exhibition quality poultry. we do pay attention to their egg and meat production but they will not compete with commercial birds. But then if people want commercial birds they are going to a reputable hatchery that specializes in egg or meat production. I bred heritage poultry before anyone knew they were heritage poultry. They are bred to look like the breed and to produce a marketable product, either eggs or meat. If you can carve out a nice little niche market you will make a few dollars. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful in any business. it is not an 8 hour a day job.
     
  7. Caprice_Acres

    Caprice_Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess what I don't get is breeding for 'type' with chickens over productivity. Our hatchery stock 'look' like the breeds they're supposed to, and we select for laying ability first. At the end of the day, to me a chicken is only worth what it produces. As for show breeders raising for healthy birds, MANY people do very well and have healthy birds from hatcheries IMO. From what I understand most large hatcheries have great means of preventing/eliminating/testing for diseases, and likely vaccinate their breeding stock for everything under the sun. Besides the few we have from a local breeder, ALL of ours have always been hatchery birds, and never a day of flockwide health trouble out of them besides the normal injuries. And then, not more than the birds I got from the local breeder. [​IMG] Our birds are not coddled in the least - no supplemental heat - just liquid water at all times, a snug shelter with roosts, and adequate feed. They free range 24/7, 365. To me, a productive hatchery bird is worth more than a pretty show line bird that doesn't lay for beans. [​IMG] I understand some show lines lay well, which is all fine and dandy I guess, but for someone like me who is not interested in shows or showing, it's not worth the extra cost. [​IMG]

    I was thinking of ordering fresh breeding stock from 'better' hatcheries like Sand Hill preservation, which usually selects for productivity as well.

    What I was essentially thinking was breeding pens with enough hens to produce 1-2 dozens of hatching eggs or so per week - so maybe a half dozen hens to start. If sales are good, we could expand the number of breeding pens or make bigger pens to keep up with demand. I just plan on listing eggs on outlets like Ebay, mainly... And don't expect that I'll have a bunch of time to keep up with more than 1-2 dozens per week with shipping etc.

    Is there any place (website?) I can learn about how to ship eggs properly for best arrival condition?
     
  8. dickhorstman

    dickhorstman Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    I do not see anyone on here trying to convince you to raise and sell exhibition birds. That is what is so great about this hobby, you can raise anything you want. I am sure you can find a niche market and be successful.
     
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    I am particularly fussy about what I buy, so maybe I don't speak for the average buyer.

    Shipped eggs are expensive, difficult to hatch, and have a low % of hatching.

    So to be brutal about it, why would I buy hatching eggs from you when all you have is hatchery stock? If I want hatchery stock, I can buy chicks direct from the hatchery. I will know how many I will get. I can buy them sexed, I can get as many as I want, I don't have to own an incubator or pay for the electricity to run an incubator, nor spend time every day to tend the incubator with the chance that none of them will hatch and I will get no chicks at all.

    Top that all off with the fact that you've just told me you don't even keep the birds separated, so not only are you offering hatchery stock, you are offering possible mongrels.

    You might be able to sell some hatching eggs if they are sold cheaply enough, but I suggest that if you are serious about offering hatching eggs, you tighten up your security, get your breeds separated, and improve the quality of you stock.

    You get more money for hatching eggs but they cost a lot more to produce. You must have breeding pens. Birds should be fed a top quality diet to improve hatchability, You must have a lot of packaging that costs money. You have to get into your car and spend the gas and time to go to the post office and mail the eggs.

    It's a lot easier to sell hatching eggs if you are offering something special and desirable that people can't just order off the internet from 15 different hatcheries. People take the risk of ordering hatchery eggs to get something the only way they can get it.
     
  10. RAREROO

    RAREROO Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:That's a good point. I would also never buy hatchery stock hatching eggs when cheap live birds are readily avaiable from hatcheries, unless they were very cheap ( 50 cent or less per egg) where I could buy several dozen at a time and hatch and sell the chicks at the livestock fleamarket to others who don't mind hatchery hatchery stock.

    But the not understanding why people breed for type over productivity is simply a matter of taste and preferance. If want want highly productive birds for layers or hybrid crosses, then hatchery stock is what id go with. However for just keeping birds just to have around and breed, then I by far prefer the looks of an Exhibition bred bird like if I wanted Rhode Island Reds, there is a big difference in a red color on a genericly body typed hatchery chicken and a true exhibition type RIR, same with Barred Rocks and especially Wyandottes, there's night and day difference there , and its the same for most any breed both thoise are three particular ones that I am interested in and would only have them from exhibition lines, and mind you, I also am not interested in showing nor do I ever intend to, but I just appreciate the looks and history associated with a well bred exhibition type bird. But as I said, that's just a matter of my personal taste, and there's going to be plenty of people wo could care less and plenty who are strictly exhibition/heritage type people, but I would say in general, you will have better luck selling hatchery stock chicks and eggs, cheaply and locally, and if you were going to ship eggs, I don't think many would go for them unless they were higher quality and pure bred.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011

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