Why continuous hatchings?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Triplecross, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Triplecross

    Triplecross Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read a thread on BYC that lots of people incubate eggs all the time. I am thinking about getting an incubator so I can sell a few chicks in the spring. Those who are using their incubators continuously, what do you do with all your chicks?

    If it's for selling, are you able to sell chicks year round?
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm sure everyone's reason is different. I don't hatch all year but I did have two 20-egg incubators running pretty continuously from April through October this year. I hatched chicks, turkeys and ducks. Some I sold as babies, some as juveniles and some as adults. Some I raise up and if they are male we butcher them and if female, keep them as layers. I also keep snakes so in the event my hatch is of a variety that is sexable at hatch, the snakes get a meal of male chick (hey - snakes have to eat too). Now that we are going into winter, I am in flock reduction mode so I don't have to feed and over-winter more birds than I need. So I am culling some of the older, non-laying hens, and the pullets I hatched during the year will replace them as my layers.
     
  3. cmfarm

    cmfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hatch most of the year and sell chicks. I don't hatch during July and August, it is really hot and people don't buy them during that time, and December and January, it is fairly cold and people don't really like to buy during that time.
     
  4. Triplecross

    Triplecross Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So if I bought an incubator it could be a small source of income for me and my 3 kids possibly. I know it will depend on my location and breeds of chickens I sell. This could be fun!

    How much does everyone sell their chicks for? I see on CL between $3 - $5 for usually mixed breed chicks in my area. I would like to sell our EE chicks and Buff Braham chicks (if the hens ever start laying...). My daughter has a calico bantam pair; I think those chicks might sell okay too, the roo is frizzle.

    Any thoughts?
     
  5. Pathfinders

    Pathfinders Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't know that I would consider hatching as a source of income, per se. Unless you can sell all the chicks you hatch right as day-olds, you're going to have to put feed into them. And most people aren't generally going to want mixed-breed chicks (just because you see ads for same on Craigslist doesn't mean those folks have run the numbers and are actually making money hatching.)

    I hatch between 400 and 500 chicks per year, all one breed (Buckeyes) and I ship most of them. I charge $6 per chick, which includes the cost of the shipping materials and the postage (Express Mail.) And a bunch of other stuff.

    I have seen a number of different figures on the amount of electricity needed to run an incubator for a hatch, of course, which one you use will have a bearing on that. I've seen figures that run between $5 per hatch to $15 per hatch. So assuming you have a smaller incubator (I have a cabinet, so I can hatch more than the smaller ones), and you can hatch out 25 chicks each time, that's 40 cents per chick.

    That doesn't take into account the feed costs for the hens who lay the eggs, oyster shell, or other supplements. Those are other figures we could calculate to determine the cost to produce each egg.

    An average hen eats about 1/4 lb of feed per day. The feed I use costs me $19.99 per 50 pound bag (I'm going to call it $20 to make the math easier on my, because I have dyscalculia and numbers give me fits sometimes.) That breaks down to (if I am doing the math right) $36.50 per hen for feed each year.

    The average Buckeye lays between 150 and 200 large eggs per year. I'm going to call it 200 (again, to make the math easier.) So each egg costs me roughly 18 cents to produce. I'm going to add in about another 2 cents for things like oyster shell, probiotics and so on.

    Then there's the cost of de-wormers. Let's pull a number out of our hat (based on what I just paid to work the whole flock) and call it 63 cents per bird, x twice a year (at least) for $1.26.

    Then you have to consider mite treatments. Not going to get specific, let's just say my numbers are 83 cents per bird, twice a year, give or take, to make $1.67.

    That doesn't include things like bedding, hay, and labor! You have to pay yourself, you really do. If you don't factor that in, there's no point in doing it to "make money."

    So without even including those three things, it will cost you $3.51 per chick to produce each one.

    That's $3.51 per chick to produce them, without including your labor.

    Now, if you're shipping chicks, you have to add the following costs in:

    You have to use a special box, which costs $3.59 each.
    I use a heater pad when shipping, those cost $3.34 each
    Then put in some Grow Gel Plus, that costs only about 10 cents per batch.
    Postage for shipping across the US can run between $45 to $65, let's call it an average of $55
    Gas into town (one gallon there and back for me, I am in a very rural area) we'll call $3.35 (which is what it was yesterday.)
    Total just to ship those chicks: $65.38

    Divided by 26 (I always put in at least one extra) and that works out that it costs me $2.51 to ship each chick. Add in the cost to produce and hatch the chick, and that comes out to $6.02 per chick. Oops. I'm losing money shipping chicks to people. But I'm ok with that (I do this for the love of the breed, not to make money. But don't show my husband these numbers!) [​IMG]

    Obviously, selling locally and being able to sell chicks for $5 each means you will make some money.

    But none of this takes into account the initial investment to purchase all the equipment needed (feeders, waterers, brooders, grow-out pens and so on. And the depreciation of said equipment. And the cost of the incubator! (Please, don't buy one of the cheapest ones, they really aren't worth it and you'll just get frustrated. Buy a Hovabator at least.)

    So. Still want to do it? Go for it! I personally find it lovely work, very satisfying and good for my soul to raise chickens. But I, and my accountant are here to tell you, you're not going to get rich doing it unless you do it on a huge scale, which then would (IMO) take all the fun out of it.

    Just some thoughts...
     
  6. Triplecross

    Triplecross Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did say "small" income, but I should say "hobby" instead. [​IMG]
    Pathfinders: Wow, that was very thorough. How do people in the business make it?

    My 4 chicks are about to (hopefully) hatch under a broody. I put an ad on CL for them for $5 each, they are EE x Leghorn. I have someone coming from 2 hours away to come get them and they haven't even hatched yet! Beginner's luck? I guess. Maybe I don't want to get an incubator after seeing all that cost for electricity to run it. Just let the broodies do it.

    Do many of you BYCer's just sell chicks that broodies hatch? Seems a lot easier...unless something goes wrong. Then I think it would be nice to have a back up plan for the hatching eggs.
     
  7. Pathfinders

    Pathfinders Overrun With Chickens

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    They use larger incubators, which can hold anywhere from 270 to 700 eggs per unit. I have a GQF digital incubator and a separate GQF digital hatcher. So I can do a full load of up to 90 eggs/chicks per week if I fill it all the way up. But they're a serious expense in terms of capital equipment (the figures I quoted above are all operating versus capital budget.)

    If all you want to do is make a little extra "hobby" cash, broodies will likely do what you need!

    Have fun with it.

    [​IMG]
     

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