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The true cost of backyard eggs!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kingme, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. gsim

    gsim Songster 9 Years

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    I am afraid to calculate it. Only reasons I did it was:

    The sorry state of the economy

    It is a safe place to invest my resources for a guaranteed return

    I doubt that America will recover much from this depression

    It is a steady supply of highest quality protein/nourishment and will be there even with runaway inflation.
  2. Kim_NC

    Kim_NC Songster

    Jan 27, 2009
    Mt Airy, NC
    Quote:I always enjoy reading Harvey's articles. Many valid points here. The sociio-economic cost to society and the Earth is more than just an 'intangible' item. This is so true of so many things in life. We really must look past our little backyard cost.

    Quote:Another very good point! They have no taste either. But most importantly, I REFUSE to support the practices of those factory egg 'farms'.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  3. RocketDad

    RocketDad Songster

    Jul 25, 2008
    Near US 287
    Quote:I don't care for the "eggs" my cat leaves around the house.
  4. Kim_NC

    Kim_NC Songster

    Jan 27, 2009
    Mt Airy, NC
    The problem with most folks' perception of the cost of backyard eggs is: using an unfair and unrealistic business model.

    In a true business model, the startup cost of things such as buildings (coop, nestboxes), equipment (feeders, waterers, etc), the animals, are amortized over their useful life. If you filed farm taxes, that's what your accountant would do!

    It's unfair to the process/chickens/grower(you) to assign the full cost of startup to the first week's eggs, first month's eggs, even first year's egg, etc. SoooOOOooo....this is how I see it in a realistic business model:

    For those following along, we will be adding these cost as we progress through each step. You can easily substitute your own actual numbers into these calculations.
    For those not willing to do this much math, then you should stop talking about the "imagined" cost of your eggs. It's a good exercise for anyone to figure these costs out.

    1) cost of layers
    Raised from chicks
    $3.00 per chick (hatchery ordered, feed store, TSC, etc.)
    First 8 weeks - 4 lb feed/bird X 22.5¢/LB = 90¢ (based on $11.25 for 50 LBS chick starter)
    Weeks 9-20 feed - 12 lb/bird X 23¢/LB = $2.76
    Total cost to 20 weeks - $3.00/chick + $0.90 + $2.76 feed costs = $6.67

    A mature, decent laying hen will lay an average 5 eggs/week - that's a 71% lay. (More in Summer and less in Winter, but that's an average.)
    We'll also allow her 5 weeks to molt each year - leaving 47 weeks to lay.

    Total eggs/year = 235
    With an effective laying age of 2 years = 470 eggs or 39.17 dozen eggs

    We do not keep our hens past 2 1/2 years (for most). We also cull birds that lay less than 5 eggs/week in Summer. You may have to adjust this cost if you have different practices.
    We also sell older layers for $5.00 each and recoop most of this cost, but I'll leave that out.

    $6.67 cost of hen / 39.17 dozen = 17¢ cost of layer per dozen

    2) cost of feed
    We feed 20% layer pellets @ a cost of 23¢ per pound.
    Allowing .33 lbs/hen/day (Very generous. We also free range, feed garden 'waste', etc. They actually eat less feed, but let's err on the side of "high cost")

    23¢ LB X .33 Lb per day = 7.5¢ per day feed cost
    7.5¢ X 7 days = 53¢ Feed cost/hen/week

    For that, a mature hen will lay 5 eggs per week. We'll asign a cost then of 11¢ per egg, or $1.32 per dozen feed cost

    Total thus far:

    $1.32 per dozen feed cost
    0.17 per dozen layer cost

    3) cost of equipment
    We keep a laying flock of ~30 hens (We have over twice that many chickens on the property, but I'll use the one larger coop/flock for this example.)
    $14.00 2 waterers
    $12.00 2 feeders

    $26.00 / 5 years effective life = $5.20 per year

    During that time, from 30 layers, we will collect
    19.58 dozen/layer/year X 30 layers = 587.4 dozen

    $5.20 / 587.4 dozen = .01 per dozen

    Total thus far:

    $1.32 per dozen feed cost
    0.17 per dozen layer cost
    .01 per dozen equipment cost

    4) cost of coop
    We used alot of free, recycled materials, but we did buy $300 in chicken wire and other supplies to contain the pastured area, add some shingles, hinges, nest boxes, etc.

    $300 / 10 years effective life = $30.00 per year
    $30.00 / 587.4 dozen = .05 per dozen

    Total thus far:

    $1.32 per dozen feed cost
    0.17 per dozen layer cost
    .01 per dozen equipment cost
    .05 per dozen coop cost

    We sell our eggs for an average $2.50 per dozen.
    Those we eat cost the $1.55. "Comparable" free range, organic grocery eggs here at $3.69 - 4.25/dozen but not truly the same high quality of ours.

    My time? For the 12.5 dozen eggs from 30 layers, I bring in $11.88 profit (birds, feed, and everything covered). I spend only 30 minutes per day tending the 30 layers & coop or 3.5 hours/week. Not a high hourly wage, but honestly, they bring us alot of other business in hatching eggs, pullet sales, meat sales, etc. Plenty of folks and their children waste more than 3.5 hrs//week in front of the TV!

    And all this does not credit the excellent compost/fertilizer and bug control we get as side benefits.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
    2 people like this.
  5. Taylor

    Taylor Songster

    Dec 14, 2008
    raising chickens isn't cheap, I tell you. But fresh eggs are all worth it. I sell my eggs for $2 a dozen and make feed money every time. but not including how much money I have in equipment and the henhouse and the effort put into all of it. [​IMG]
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm 10 Years

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
  7. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Quote:I find this very interesting. So if I want to get an idea of "real" cost while including non-consumables (house, feeders, etc), I need to figure out how long I expect those things to last and kind of "share the wealth" between the years?

    A speadsheet ain't gonna cut it for this, is it? XD
  8. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Songster

    Jan 26, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I think of backyard chickens as a "hobby with benefits". I don't expect it to pay for itself, I just enjoy it and appreciate the eggs, entertainment and fertilizer.
  9. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    I don't understand... this is only for the eggs ... right? It is afterall meant to be backyard chickens to provide eggs for your family right? A trio of birds dont need a huge coop with all the bells and whistles... if you are just wanting eggs for your family then keep your number of birds down. Course that doesnt allow for hatching chickies and all the fun planning and building a coop etc. but that is the hobby part of it.
    How many eggs do you need a week for your family? a couple birds should provide that easy (so dont understand all the the costs) > anything above that is extending your hobby... a hobby always costs money. Canaries cats dogs guinea pigs whatever pets you have... they also cost money (and you get no eggs in return).
  10. theFox

    theFox Songster

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    If you want to be fair about it the initial setup cost is but a fraction of the ongoing none feed cost of raising chickens.

    That coop for example will require periodic maintenance, then you have costs associated with water, electricity, medications if needed, and parasitic insect control.

    When it comes to tax accounting you choose your method and stick to it.

    But then on paper rarely ever reflects in or out of pocket.

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