Chicken Economics: The Cost of Keeping Chickens

| 1/30/2013 11:37:40 AM

Tags: keeping chickens, raising chickens, Victoria Gazeley,

eggs in a cartonLet's face it - raising chickens for your own fresh eggs is like a gateway drug to a full-fledged addiction to all things 'rural'.

At least it seems that way, with practically every second magazine having anything to do with 'home' talking about backyard chickens in some way, shape or form. There's a reason why chickens are the first thing most people think about when they think 'rural'. I mean, what household didn't have chickens back in the day?  Mansions, shacks and everything in between - everyone had a few birds out back for eggs and meat.

We brought our first batch of ISA Brown girlies home on May 31, 2011. It was step number 4 on our journey to a more self-reliant lifestyle (steps 1 through 3 involved moving just outside of a small town, transitioning to full time self-employment, and getting the raised beds set up and organized for veggies). The goal was to be able to eliminate the need to buy eggs for us or fertilizer for our new veggie gardens. The second goal was that the birds pay for themselves. And that's where things get interesting.

I asked this question on our Facebook page recently: "Do you track your costs and benefits of keeping chickens for eggs?"  Or something like that. Anyway, the answers ranged from, "Always - they have to pay for themselves" to "Never - my husband would never let me keep them if he knew what it actually cost!" and a whole bunch of humorous answers in between.

So let me ask you: do YOU track the cost of keeping chickens?

What Chickens Cost

Since the beginning of this adventure, I've tracked feed and building costs, along with sales to friends and associates, but not actual egg production. Here's what it looks like to date (from 15 chicks in May of 2011 to 17 producing hens - 13 of which are 20 months old and 4 are about 7 months... oh, and 2 roosters [was 3 but one was dispatched by a hawk this past Christmas]):

12/27/2013 3:27:42 PM

I helped relatives and friends keep chickens and the benefits are way more than commercial. I'm hoping to organise a coop where I live at some stage... see my funny video here And yes, if I have spare eggs I'll try to make a few euros if I can ;) I tend to agree with you that feeding the birds cheaper GMO feed is a little too close to just buying eggs from the supermarket - but you will still have the pleasure of interesting living animals in your immediate environment. "Livestock dog" - I love it! Yes, they are entertaining! When you live in the city, as I do, it is beholding God to see His creatures. I'm no prepper, but I think to keep your hand in simple sustainability measures is good for your peace of mind also. Gwen below is right. The spreadsheet links aren't valid.

robert wallace
3/3/2013 9:51:32 PM

same here

amanda ellerbe
2/28/2013 2:21:44 PM

We keep the coop door open and they all go back in at night to roost. We shut the door and open it the next morning to let them out.

gwen gray
2/9/2013 5:35:46 AM

I could not get either spreadsheet link to work

2/8/2013 6:21:09 PM

seeing as how you already have a vegetable garden for your own purposes wouldn't it help to portion out some of it for growing chicken feed (corn or whatever?) I know this is probably a stupid question but the bf and I have been toying with the idea of getting chickens when we are able to get out of the city and this I'm sure will end up being a question in our house as well as I am planning on having at least a garden.

nicole philip
2/5/2013 4:50:03 PM

Very interested in the spreadsheet but I can't get it to work, is it working or is the trouble at my end?

ken kelley
2/1/2013 5:48:45 PM

Quite an interesting article. Question: If your chickens are free ranging during the day do they automatically return to the coop in the evening (so you can secure them against predator intrusion) or do you have to "round them up"?

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