Starting a breeding flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ThePigeonKid, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. ThePigeonKid

    ThePigeonKid Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2010
    Ohio - Chickens 3yrs
    I want to make some money on the side, by hatching some chickens as a hobby.

    I am planning on getting Barred Rocks, 30 hens and 5 roosters, give or take a few…

    How much feed do you estimate I would use in a month?

    What sort of certification (or anything of that nature) would I need?

    How big of a coop would I need for this many birds?

    Does anyone have any good designs for one of the proper size?

    How much would a coop of the correct size cost to build?

    Are there any vaccines I should give my breeders?

    Any and all advice for me starting a breeding flock would be appreciated. Any advice on how to make the money in order to pay for this?

    Thanks in advance! [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2011
  2. cupman

    cupman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    Portland, OR
    I have 12 chickens and a 50 pound bag of feed seems to last me around 3 weeks(my birds are 10 weeks). Be very careful about the use of feed, observe them for awhile. For a long time I was wasting a lot of food by having the birds kick the food out.

    About certifications... well that can be tricky, I think for USDA type stuff it can be really expensive, it might be wise to just start small, use craigslist and the local community.

    Coop size they say 2 sq ft per bird, and many say double that. You can save space by having layers of perches inside the coop, I've seen a setup before where the coop was only maybe 6x6 and because of it's design held dozens of birds.

    Not sure on the designs, you could google around and look for something like I mentioned above or check out the coop construction forum, lot of creative people with very good ideas.

    I'm unsure about vaccines and starting a flock but I will keep my eye on this thread as I'm very curious about the same thing. I've been entertaining the idea of buying an incubator and some breeding birds like quail and chickens but I just put nearly a thousand dollars on my credit card for college classes today. I have all these ideas and hobbies and just not enough money to do any of them!
  3. homesteadmomma

    homesteadmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2011
    Parke Co. Indiana
    A lot will depend on different variables. Right now I have 55 chickens in a coop with enough sq. footage for 40 chickens at 4 sq ft per bird. It's not really that cramped, and they have a grassy run. They are quarantined at the time being.

    I have 16 in a coop that has enough sq. ft. for 40 chickens, and they are just as happy with the same setup as the previously mentioned chickens. They get one large scoop (horse feed scoop) of feed per day and greens from the garden, plus whatever free ranging they will do. A bag of feed for them lasts maybe 2-3 weeks.

    I am not positive on certification. I would assume that to sell livestock, it is required, but since it's a hobby, you might be able to get away with it. There is lots of testing needed if you want to be NPIP certified, and certified organic I'm sure is the same.

    As far as coop, 140 ft would give you the recommended 4 sq. ft per bird. So 10x14, but if you consider that most materials will come in 8 ft lengths, like plywood, you might want to consider 8x16. You would gain extra sq. footage, and wouldn't have any waste.

    I could draw up some plans or you could just look at some on the coop designs page, but the number will throw you for a loop. Construction materials are pricey! Look for used if you can, check Craigslist or Freecycle. Also pallets have been used with great success. Use your imagination and what you have laying around. Will you be building this coop or having someone else build it? If you will be hiring someone, you can probably at least double the price of the materials for labor.

    I know that some vaccinate for Mareks and I'm sure I've heard of another vaccine, although, I'm not sure if they would be required depending on how you plan on selling these chicks (pet quality/ show quality).

    As far as I know, it's nearly impossible to make money with chickens. Even if you don't consider your start up costs (feeders, waterers, birds, coops, runs), you are still talking about feeding 35 birds. If you feed them cheap feed, you're still looking at $10 for 50 lbs at the least. They will probably go through that in a week or so. So from the start you are diving into the negatives. Do you plan on buying chicks to start with? Each chick say costs $2, and you need $35, so $70, and say on average you go through 50lbs every two weeks. And to get them to laying and breeding age, say 20 weeks. So you have $100 in feed at least to get them to laying age, and that's a VERY conservative estimate. Then the price would also go up tremendously if you were buying show quality chickens as well. You would want to feed them better feed, etc., but you could most likely sell chicks for a bit more. Will you be selling chicks as day old? or would you raise them to be a few weeks, etc.? Do you plan on incubating eggs? Then you are talking electricity usage, plus more time and energy, and your time is worth something, and even if it's not, it's still costing money. If you sell them as day olds, you won't have the food investment though. The chances of a broody barred rock are pretty slim, but I guess it could happen, but then your broody hen is no longer laying, so that's less chicks, which means less money, but a hen sitting on eggs, saves electricity and your time and energy. I just paid $1 each for chicks last night, and $2 each for 12-14 week old barred rocks. I'm sure they paid a lot more than that to feed them to get them to that age.

    I am by no means trying to talk you out of something you want to do, please don't take it wrong. I have sat here pondering the exact same thing quite a few nights, trying to figure out how to make it work, and how to make money. I'm sure you could do it somehow. I have just found that chickens are a lot more expensive than I ever thought they would be.
  4. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

    Dec 1, 2010
    Owasso, Oklahoma
    I have a flock of 35 chickens and I am NPIP certified. Are you wanting to sell hatching eggs and or ship them? Are you going to sell chicks and ship them? It is a requirement to be NPIP tested to sell poultry over state lines.

    For feed costs they are a little more than 50lbs of layer pellets a week with no free ranging. I free ranged pretty much every day. Since you'll have one breed I would recommend the same. They ate about 35-40lbs a week while free ranging all day!

    I have learned that the more space per bird the more comfortable they will be and there production increases. I would recommend at least 4 sq ft per bird. For a coop size around 12x12 for the low end or 12x16 or bigger if at all possible. Make is as big as you can afford! Also what type of weather do you have in your area! Ventilation is the key for a great coop!

    This year I am selling hatching eggs shipped and picked up and also chicks pick up only! I do not have my chicks vaccinated I just get them tested yearly!

    To get started hatching, do you want hatchery stock or heritage breeds?

    Have fun!

  5. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Personally, I've had good luck with just a little local sales of chicks. I breed them for color sexlinking so I can tell on the day of hatch which ones are pullets and which ones are cockerals. I keep a list of reptile folks (advertised on craigslist) who take the day old cocks off our hands. Then you're not feeding something until it crows, a big waste in my area as cocks are hard to get rid of. In my case I have 11 delaware hens and keep one RIR rooster. I lso keep about 15 sexlinks for egg production for my eating egg customers. I traded for the rooster so he didn't really cost me anything. The delawares I have currently are from Ideal. My last ones were from Privett and not all that great. I've also tried RIW hens from Privett and did not get a good hatch rate on their eggs. In fact, it was a miserable Spring for selling as I only got a few live chicks and they were difficult to color sex. I suspect that RIW's are not what they used to be genetically. In any case, the original breeding chicks cost me about $3.50 each plus the feed to raise them to POL. Once they start laying you can sell eating eggs for the summer, fall, and early winter to re-gain the investment of raising those chicks. Also, each summer (when my new pullets that I have raised for myself0 start producing eggs, I re-home my previous year's sexlink hens and 2 year old breeding stock. The sale of those hens pays for raising up my new chicks that year.

    I have a friend with an incubator. So I collect the eggs, she puts them in the incubator on Thursday nights, they hatch 21 days later usually on Friday, and we pre-sell them in January telling people what day their chicks will (hopefully) be prepared to pick them up on Sat/Sun.

    Figure that there's generally a 50/50 split of pullets/cocks. And about 10-20% will not develop or hatch. At best (in late winter/early spring) you might get 20 eggs per day from your 30 hens = 140 eggs per week to incubate. So if you subtract 15% for non-hatching eggs = 119/120 left to hatch = at best 60 pullets, probably (my experience) 50 pullets. I can sell sexlinks for $4 each since they are guaranteed to be pullets which most people prefer. And the ~70 cocks will sell for $1 each. And by selling everything as day-olds...relatively little feed expense. I buy one bag of starter feed each spring for the sale chicks as well as raising a dozen or so for myself. So in one week I would be able to get $270 from the sale of chicks. But again, what you can charge for a chick will depend on your marketing area. We have many repeat customers here due to coyotes, raccoons, etc preying on flocks in our valley. And craigslist works well too. But we send the previous years' buyers an email in January asking them if they will want chicks again this year. We don't incubate more than we sell. My friend with the incubator also breeds buff orpingtons and EE's...pre-sold as straight run for $3 each. The feed stores here charge about $3.50 - 3.95 for chicks so we are very competitive with that pricing.

    I'm not sure why you want 5 roosters with just 30 hens. One rooster would probably do fine, two at the most. Otherwise your hens are going to look like raw hamburger. And I only keep the roos with the hens in the spring when I want fertile eggs, putting them in the larger hen pen about 2 weeks before I start collecting fertile eggs. In our cold climate I might also put the roos in the hen coop during the coldest days/nights of winter since my roo coop is just a rabbit hutch with lots of straw to keep them insulated. But generally, January is the coldest month and that's when I start moving them in with the hens for breeding as we start collecting eggs the last week of January to start incubating by the 1st of Feb. Your first chicks would then be hatching sometime around the last two weeks of Feb. In our area that would beat the feed store chick days by a week or two. Once people here start hearing about chick days it is much harder to compete with the feed stores, another good reason to pre-sell in January and make them commit. Our customers know that we have waiting lists for chicks. So we don't require a deposit but we do expect them to show up with cash on the designated day or their chicks will go to the next person on the list.

    Consider that you will also need an incubator, some sort of brooding pens for the chicks when they are dry enough to take them out of the incubator (we use large plastic tray/wire top guinea pig cages with a heat lamp, and chick feeders and waterers. If you really intend to incubate 140 eggs per week you will need one large incubator or a few smaller ones, probably your biggest investment.

    Besides selling chicks, if you have a big barn or similar, many of our customers prefer point-of-lay pullets. My friend sells those for the cost of the chick plus $1/week = about $10-15/pullet depending on age...but she never keeps them longer than 12 weeks. But raising POL pullets requires a brooder space in a barn or big galvanized water troughs in a garage. And I guarantee you will breathe a sigh of relief when the last POL goes home!

    I know it's a lot to consider...just my $0.02 about what has worked for us.

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