Cost of Raising Chickens

The Real Cost of Raising Backyard Chickens : Revealed!

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Tanner here, coming to you live from my little slice of rural heaven.

I’ve been raising chickens in my backyard for a few years now, and let me tell you, it has been an adventure!

When I first got the idea to have my own flock of egg-laying ladies, I pictured pastoral bliss – me sipping coffee on the porch while my hens pecked happily in the yard.

What I didn’t quite anticipate was just how much time, money and work it takes to keep chickens healthy and productive.

Cost of Raising Chickens

So before you run out to buy those adorable baby chicks, here’s the real scoop on what it costs to raise backyard chickens.

The total cost was higher than I expected, around $300 per year for a small flock of 5 hens.

But the enjoyment of having my own mini homestead far outweighed the expense.

The eggs taste better and are more nutritious than store-bought too!

I’ll never forget the day I brought home those fluffy chicks. I was so excited to finally have my own little feathered girls.

But as soon as I got them settled in the brooder I had set up in my garage, I quickly realized I was in over my head! Chicks need a heat lamp, special feed, clean bedding and round the clock care.

My pajamas got covered in chick poop every time I handled them. And even with a brooder, some chicks didn’t survive those fragile first weeks.

Coop and Run

The first big expense was building a coop and run. A good coop provides shelter, roosting spots, nesting boxes and protection from predators.

Cost of Raising Chickens

Plan on at least 4 square feet per chicken inside the coop, and 8-10 square feet per bird in the outdoor run area. I spent around $500 building a basic wooden coop and run for my small flock of 5 hens. Here’s a breakdown of those costs:

  • $150 for the lumber to build a 4×8 coop
  • $50 for the hardware cloth to enclose the run area
  • $30 for the asphalt roofing
  • $120 for the various hinges, latches, nails, and other supplies
  • $100 for the pre-built nesting boxes
  • $50 for the roosting perches

In retrospect, I wish I had drawn up better plans before starting. I had to make several trips to the hardware store when I realized my design was flawed. Do your research and sketch out exactly what you need ahead of time. That would have saved me money and frustration!

You can save money on the coop and run by finding used or scrap materials. Check Craigslist for old dog kennels or shed dismantles you can repurpose. A basic A-frame style coop is cheaper and easier to build too. Just make sure you use predator-proof hardware cloth on any open areas.

Also, don’t skimp on size. Crowded quarters lead to stress, fighting, and sickness. Give your flock plenty of interior floor space and an ample outdoor run. I wish I had built my run twice as big right from the start. The chickens were cramped in that small space.

Chicks and Feed

If you’re getting day-old chicks like I did, you can find them at farm stores for $2-5 each in spring. I like getting mine from local farms when possible.

Cost of Raising Chickens

Here are some tips:

  • Order early – popular breeds sell out fast.
  • Get at least 6 chicks – they fare better in groups.
  • Choose healthy, active chicks with no pasting on their bottoms.
  • Consider vaccinating chicks for common poultry diseases.
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The other recurring cost is food. Chicks need special starter feed with at least 20% protein to grow properly. A 25 pound bag of chick starter will cost $15-20 and lasts me about 6 weeks for a batch of chicks. They eat a surprising amount!

When they mature around 18 weeks, switch your hens to layer feed with 16% protein. This keeps them in prime egg-laying shape.

Layer feed comes in various mixes with added calcium for strong eggshells. I prefer organic feeds without animal byproducts or soy. A 50 pound bag costs me around $18 and lasts 2-3 weeks for 5 chickens.

Here are some tips for feeding your flock:

  • Use feeders to reduce waste.
  • Supplement with kitchen scraps and treats.
  • Provide oyster shell or grit for digestion.
  • Keep feed stored securely away from pests.

Proper nutrition is crucial for healthy, productive chickens who lay nutritious eggs. Don’t cut corners on feed quality.

Supplies

Then you have general supplies – feeders, waterers, nesting boxes, perches, treats, supplements and so on.

Cost of Raising Chickens

You’ll likely spend around $200 upfront outfitting your coop. Here are some must-have items and approximate costs:

  • Feeders – $25
  • Waterers – $20
  • Nesting boxes – $100
  • Perches – $20
  • Grit – $10
  • Treats – $15
  • Feed scoop – $5

Bedding like wood shavings or straw will need replaced every few months too. A bale of straw runs me $8 and lasts 1-2 months.

Chickens are prone to pests like mites and lice, so you’ll need sprays and powders to keep them healthy. Mite spray costs $15 and I use it monthly. Lice powder is $10 and I dust them with it seasonally.

Some other miscellaneous supplies that come in handy are:

  • Brooder heat lamp
  • Indoor/outdoor thermometers
  • Feed storage bins
  • Egg baskets
  • Cleaning tools like a shovel and hoe

Shop around and buy supplies in bulk when possible to save money. And make sure to keep a well-stocked first aid kit to treat minor chicken injuries.

Vet Bills & Predators

Speaking of health, vet bills are a possibility with backyard chickens. Issues like egg binding, injuries from other chickens, or bumblefoot can arise.

Cost of Raising Chickens

And chickens are unfortunately prone to illness and parasites.

I lost a hen last year to a respiratory infection that spread quickly through the flock, despite my attempts to quarantine her. The emergency vet visit and antibiotics cost me $150. Sadly, she didn’t make it. The rest of the flock recovered fully with some TLC.

Roosters often brutalize hens when kept together too. I had a rooster who flogged my hens relentlessly until I rehomed him. One hen needed stitches after a nasty spur wound, which was a $100 vet bill.

Predators are another big threat. Weasels, minks, foxes, coyotes, raccoons – all love feasting on chickens. Install electric fencing if these are an issue in your area. I use a solar-powered poultry net fence around my run and it works great.

I lost a hen to a raccoon one night that managed to break into the coop. The emergency vet visit to treat her wounds cost me $80, but sadly she didn’t survive. Secure all doors and openings on your coop – a smart predator will find the weak spot!

So as you can see, health issues and predators often lead to unexpected vet bills. Budget $100-200 per year for incidentals and medical care just to be safe.

While raising chickens isn’t exactly cheap, I find it very rewarding. Seeing those perfect brown eggs each morning makes all the work and expense worthwhile.

The chickens keep the yard bug-free and provide rich compost for my garden too. So if you’re up for the challenge and ready for your own feathered friends, go for it! Just make sure to thoroughly research costs and care ahead of time.

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Feed Cost Breakdown

Feed makes up a significant portion of the cost of raising chickens. Let’s break it down in more detail:

Cost of Raising Chickens

For starter feed for baby chicks, plan on going through about 1.5 pounds of feed per chick in the first 8 weeks. At $15 for a 25 pound bag, that’s around $0.90 per chick.

If you have a brood of 6 chicks, you’ll spend around $5.40 per week, so about $45 total on starter feed.

Once they are grown around 18 weeks, hens eat about 0.25 pounds of layer feed per day.

For a flock of 5 hens, that’s 1.25 pounds per day. If a 50 pound bag costs $18 and lasts 2-3 weeks, you’ll spend $9-13 per week, or $35-50 per month on layer feed.

So total yearly feed costs for a flock of 5 hens works out to:

  • 8 weeks starter feed – $45
  • 44 weeks layer feed – $440
  • Total: $485

This estimates feed costs at right around $100 per hen for the year. Prices can vary based on your feed brand and quality.

Organic and soy-free blends cost more. You may also go through more feed in cold winter months when chickens eat more to stay warm.

Ways to cut down on feed costs include:

  • Buy in bulk – 50 lb bags are cheaper per pound than small bags
  • Shop sales and price compare between brands
  • Supplement with kitchen scraps
  • Grow some of your own corn or grains for feed

Proper nutrition is crucial for hen health and egg production, so don’t cut back too much. But with some smart shopping and supplementation, you can keep your feed budget under control.

Egg Sales Revenue

What about earning back some of your chicken keeping costs through egg sales? This depends greatly on your individual production and market.

On average, you can expect around 250-300 eggs per year from one healthy, well-kept hen. For a small backyard flock of 5 hens, that equates to 1,250-1,500 eggs annually.

If you sell your surplus eggs at $3 per dozen, you would earn $125-150 per year. That offsets about half the annual feed costs. Direct sales to neighbors, through community support agriculture (CSA) programs, or at farmers markets can bring in even more revenue.

Some things to keep in mind about egg sales:

  • Check your local laws – some places prohibit egg sales without a license
  • Carefully store and package eggs to maintain freshness
  • Be prepared to spend time marketing and managing sales
  • You’ll still have plenty of eggs for personal use too

While you probably won’t break even, the extra income from egg sales can help defray a portion of the costs of raising chickens. And you get the satisfaction of providing fresh, nutritious eggs for your community.

Sickness Prevention

Since vet bills can add up quickly, focus on preventing health problems in your flock. Here are some tips:

  • Buy vaccinated chicks from reputable sources
  • Quarantine new additions for 30 days
  • Keep coops clean, dry and well ventilated
  • Remove standing water to prevent parasites
  • Feed a balanced diet with supplements
  • Isolate and treat sick birds promptly
  • Practice good biosecurity like hand washing
  • Avoid introducing wild birds by covering runs

Provide ample space and roosts at various heights to prevent injuries. Clip wings if chickens start flying out of the run where they are vulnerable. And rehome aggressive roosters.

Using natural remedies can also boost flock health. I like to add garlic, oregano, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar to my chickens’ water. Probiotics help maintain good gut health.

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Despite your best efforts, sickness and injuries will likely occur eventually. But focusing on prevention reduces the chances and saves money over time.

Breed Selection

The breed you choose for your backyard flock influences costs and egg production. Here are some top picks:

Rhode Island Reds – This classic breed is hardy, adaptable, and lays up to 300 eggs a year. They make a great starter chicken for new owners.

Ameraucanas – Friendly birds that lay blue or green eggs! Not as productive at around 250 eggs annually, but they make up for it in personality.

Orpingtons – Big, fluffy birds that are cold hardy and lay consistently. Orpingtons are docile and make good pets.

Leghorns – No frills, but Leghorns are egg-laying champs, cranking out 280+ white eggs per year. Just watch out, they can be flighty.

Hybrids – Sex-link hybrids like Golden Comets combine the sturdy health of heritage breeds with the productivity of Leghorns.

In general, stick to breeds known for high egg production rather than novelty traits. White egg layers tend to be more efficient than those laying colorful eggs. But also consider disposition – flighty chickens are hard to handle.

Mixing two or three breeds provides flock diversity and prevents issues like weakened genetics over generations. Cross your own chickens to get interesting hybrid vigor in the offspring.

 

Breaking Down the Real Cost of Backyard Chickens : Chart

Cost Why You Need It
Coop $500 Provides shelter, roosting spots, nest boxes, and predator protection.
Feed – Annual $485 Nutrition for growth and egg production.
Fencing $300 Keeps flock safely contained and deters predators.
Chicks – 6 $30 Day-old chicks to start your flock.
Vet Care $200 Treat injuries, illness, parasites.
Supplies $200 Feeders, waterers, nests, etc. for setup.
Bedding – Annual $100 Absorbent litter to keep coop clean.
Egg Baskets $50 For gathering and selling eggs.
Treats $50 Supplement feed and build hen-human bond.
Cleaner/Disinfectant $40 Sanitize coop and prevent disease.
Grit/Oyster Shell $30 For digestion and calcium for egg shells.
Roosts $20 Perches for chickens to roost on at night.
Feed Scoop $10 For easily portioning out feed.
Thermometers $10 Monitor temps for chick and coop health.
Record Keeping $5 Track egg production, health issues.
Treat Containers $5 Dispense treats and kitchen scraps.
Tools $5 Shovel, hoe, buckets for coop cleaning.

 

Cost Saving Tips

Here are a few more tips for saving money when raising backyard chickens:

  • Build coops/runs from salvaged or inexpensive materials
  • Let chickens free range to supplement diet
  • Use litter like pine shavings in coops vs pricey straw
  • Grow produce like squash and lettuce for them to eat
  • Schedule vet visits to coincide with health checks to reduce fees
  • Learn to do basic care like wing clipping and treating minor wounds yourself
  • Join a poultry keeper group to trade advice and supplies

Raising chickens teaches you to be resourceful.

With some creativity and thriftiness, you can keep your flock healthy, happy, and productive without breaking the bank!

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

This ain’t no chicken game. After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!