True cost of starting a backyard flock.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cargo, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Cargo

    Cargo Songster

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    I decided to start this post after reading this post:
    No offense meant but I would have to gently disagree with this. The only cost that a person has a reasonably large chance of HAVING to shell out significantly for is safe run fencing, but you can make a pretty good daytime-only run for half a dozen (or a dozen more crowded) chickens with maybe $100 worth of fencing and posts. So the cost needn't be exorbitant for the run. Obviously a larger or roofed run will cost a good bit more; but OTOH it is sometimes possible to scrounge much or all of the materials for cheap or free, if you look around enough.

    As for the coop itself, is of course quite EASY to spend a lot but it is by no means NECESSARY. Not even if you don't have lots of stuff lying around. Scrounging is good, as is designing around the materials you have. So it can certainly be done on a shoestring if desired.

    Also many people have structures that can be converted (in whole or in part) into chicken housing, so that you're back to only needing a run.

    I am only posting this so that people do not get scared off by thinking that they HAVE to have many hundreds or thousands of loose-change dollars in order to have chcikens smile

    Good luck, have fun,


    While I agree with Pat for the most part, I would like to point out that there is also time involved.
    So I would like to discuss the total cost we all spend getting started with chickens.

    I will start:

    Time spent doing coop/chicken research:
    ~ 50 hours. (This is a conservative guess. I obsessed for 3 weeks before starting the build. I also had to design from scratch so my tractor could go through a garden fence.)

    Materials for coop and run:
    ~ $350.00 (The run was put in as a dog run by previous house owners. All I had to do was fix the gate. Spent extra on a few ideas that did not work out so well. I believe if I were to do it again I could make the coop for less than $200.00)

    Time Spent building the coop and run:
    ~40 hours (This includes time building feeders and nipple watering system. A proper paint job was a big time eater. It always amazes me how long it takes to build even simple things.)

    Initial Cost of Chickens: Including brooding supplies and feed to first egg.
    $0 (I am lucky enough to have a friend with a large flock. She let me have my 4 18 month old hens for free. We had 4 eggs the next day)

    Other Misc Costs:
    I'm sure I will think of some.

    This is just the initial cost.
    About $350 and roughly 90 hours of my time, worth $1800.00 if I were work extra instead of building a coop.
    Just so happens I enjoy building things as a hobby so we could reasonably cut the cost for time in half.

    Total true cost for me to first egg: ~ $1250.00

    I was originally going to build a recycled coop from pallets. For me though it did not make sense to spend that much time tracking down and destructing pallets since that is less fun for me than working.

    Kinda scary when you think about it like that.
    However I have 4 great pets and some great eggs. So I would do it again in a heartbeat.​
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Most people don't take unpaid time off from their jobs to build their coops, though, so it isn't a financial cost for them. It's something they do in their spare time.
  3. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Songster

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    I knew a fellow who did estimates for a living. He was amazingly accurate. Here is his method:

    1. Carefully calculate cost of materials and labor in excruciating detail
    2. Change labor estimate to next higher category (2 hours = 2 days, 3 days = 3 weeks)
    3. Update the cost figure
    4. Double the cost figure

    You will probably be about 10% under final cost.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Gosh, if I weren't spending time doing chicken (or chicken-related construction) things I sure would not be doing paid work, I'd simply be doing other unpaid things instead [​IMG]

    Pat, who kind of wishes there were that much paid work hovering around offering itself to me, but, [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  5. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Songster

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    i think it depends on where you live. where i am at there is not a lot of scrap wood and if you do find some people want money for it so sometimes it just better to buy new. i was lucky to find a good deal on some 3/4 plywood that a guy bought but did not use. i have not started to build yet but am buying things. i find if you look in other parts of the store you can find the same things or better things with a different name for cheaper, like when i found chicken wire that is used for stucco for a much better deal than the stuff labeled chicken wire. the stuff i got is 17 ga and just over an inch hex and 150 feet long for a lot cheaper than if i were to buy the stuff that has the word "chicken on the package. its also important to remember that different countries have a different money value. great topic btw [​IMG]
  6. enggass

    enggass Songster

    Mar 8, 2010
    Mid-Coast Maine
    Chicken.Lytle :

    I knew a fellow who did estimates for a living. He was amazingly accurate. Here is his method:

    1. Carefully calculate cost of materials and labor in excruciating detail
    2. Change labor estimate to next higher category (2 hours = 2 days, 3 days = 3 weeks)
    3. Update the cost figure
    4. Double the cost figure

    You will probably be about 10% under final cost.

    Ain't it the truth!​
  7. Hi Cargo, my thoughts exactly [​IMG]
  8. Ema

    Ema Songster

    Jun 4, 2010
    N. Ontario CANADA
    I have to agree with pat, my run and coop design only cost me maybe if added all together about 150 bucks, and that is kinda of exaggerating a bit though. if you look at my page you will see what I mean. I have a large run, covered and an in barn coop. I got all my materials recycled for free. From things we had laying around, and from going about and seeking pallets in god repair.

    I didn't deconstruct any of the pallets because they were in great shape. the only thing I bought was chicken wire, staples and screws. I had roofing tin laying around that I buried into the ground and placed around the outside of the pallets.

    After that I got my chicks, I used an old crib I had from when my DD was a baby and again used materials I already had laying about to secure the crib into a proper home made brooder. Maybe the heat lamp might have cost me like 25 bucks a month to operate until they were old enough and a 50 lb sack of chick starter was only 14 bucks and it lasted well over a month and half for my 21 RIR chicks.

    shavings were like 5 bucks for a a huge sackful, which I will estimate had about 8 cubic feet in it, and I purchased this at the local sawmill.

    waterers and feeders I got from a lady who bought a huge farm and found a motherload of chicken, swine, and goat supplies in one of the 4 barns they had. I got those for dirt cheap because she wanted them gone. I got a boat load of them and including 9 automatic waterers that are about 60-80 bucks each for only 10 dollars.

    I spent a whole load of time doing my research and a lot more time looking around the recycling areas, but then again, during the summer I go seeking for new things I can use around the barn or greenhouse, or land. You would be amazed at the things I have come across that with a bit of elbow grease or even tightening a bolt or screw fixes the issue.

    I sure as heck do not have a lot of money laying around, and anything recycled that is useful on my property is a true treasure found!!

    I guess from day olds to first egg I would say I might have spend in total with everything maybe 300 bucks, to me that is cheap, and quite worth it, my hens are happy and super healthy. They provide me with 21 eggs per day without fail. that is 12.25 dozen eggs per week. They certainly are worth every penny and more. :)
  9. Cargo

    Cargo Songster

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    I was not talking about taking unpaid time off of work. I was talking about working extra.
    The cost of 1 hour of free time = 1 hour of work or 1 hour of sleep. This is called "opportunity cost" in economics.

    Opportunity cost is the cost related to the next-best choice available to someone who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices.[1] It is a key concept in economics. It has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice."[2] The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently.[3] Thus, opportunity costs are not restricted to monetary or financial costs: the real cost of output forgone, lost time, pleasure or any other benefit that provides utility should also be considered opportunity costs.
    A person who has $15 can either buy a CD or a shirt. If he buys the shirt the opportunity cost is the CD and if he buys the CD the opportunity cost is the shirt. If there are more choices than two, the opportunity cost is still only one item, never all of them.

    This could also be getting an extra job or doing something else to make money. The value is different from one person to the next. A brain surgeon would be economically driven to have someone build them a coop because the time they spend at work is so much more valuable than my time. They may choose to build their own coop for many reasons but saving money is not one of those because the time spent building a coop would cost them more money than buying one.

    It really comes down to the fact that starting a backyard flock costs both time and money. If you spend more time you can spend less money and vice versa. We all work to a balance that makes sense to us individually.
    I think it will be interesting to see how others have achieved this balance.​
  10. Hottchick

    Hottchick Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    We got our first egg this past week. My husband called it the $1000 egg.

    I'm afraid to calculate the real cost. But I love my girls and my coop could be a great shed/workshop if I ever decide to stop keeping chickens.

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