Yes, those are a lot of questions that you would need to ask yourself. For us the hens are part of our income and we have broken down and analyzed our production costs. We sell to a local health food store at $4.50/dozen. If we are at a Farmers Market or Garden Fair we sell direct for $5-$6/dozen. Why a different price? That's what the particular Market crowd will support. Yes, if we chose a Farmers Market in a different area of our city, we would have to charge a lower price based on the areas income level. That's why we don't sell there though, it wouldn't cover costs and provide a suitable profit as you'll soon see.
We are going to share Backyard Poultry's blog and insert our answers in bold next to theirs. Here's how it breaks down:
Does Raising Backyard Chickens Save You Money?
March 18, 2015
Everyone is looking for a bargain, and raising chickens for your own eggs is the second rung on the homesteading ladder. The first is growing your own veggies. But does having your own backyard chickens actually save you any money? Let’s do some chicken math and find out.
DISCLAIMER: Before everyone gets all up in arms about the numbers, let us be clear. I live 45 minutes outside of Cleveland. These are the prices in my area. I will give you the math and you can enter your own numbers for your area. We are in Tucson, Az. population 569,000 jumping to almost 1 Million during winter months.
ASSUMPTIONS: Any time you do math you need to make assumptions. I will show you the math for ONE CHICKEN even though no one actually raises one chicken. (I don’t think you can even buy just one chicken). That way you can add up how many birds you need to get how many eggs you want. For my bird I selected a heritage variety that will commence laying at 22 weeks. You can get hybrids that start laying at 17 so you can adjust your numbers for them if you’d like. Also, there will be rounding to the nearest 10th of a cent.
- You’re going to take the path of least resistance and get your feed at the most convenient location, which is probably not the grain elevator.
- You do not live on a farm and will not be buying feed or chicks in bulk, forgoing those types of discounts.
- I am using recommendations based on my experience. This is probably not your experience. Neither you nor I are wrong about our experiences.
1. What are you currently spending on eggs?This varies WIDELY across the country. If I go to my local grocery store or farmers market and select brown, free-range eggs I will pay about $5/dozen ($6 locally). I realize this might not be what you pay for eggs but we want to compare apples to apples. If you’re going to raise cage free or free range birds we need to compare prices of eggs with the same credentials.
$0.41 per egg ($.50)
2. How much does it cost to raise a chicken?Cost of a heritage breed chick purchased online and shipped to my local post office.
$3.60 ($1.79 including shipping. We waited for a sale.)
Feed for the first 10 weeks while chick is eating high protein, high cost, chick feed. Consumption for 10 weeks is about 10 pounds. A 50 pound bag of feed at my local feed store is $17.02 including 6.5 percent tax. That’s $0.34 per pound. Multiply by 10.
For a #40 it costs $33.07 for certified organic feed including tax. That's
$.83 per pound.
Feed for the next 12 weeks before the bird starts to lay. At 11 weeks the birds start eating 1.5 pounds per week at the same price per bag. $0.34 per pound times 18 pounds of feed. There is also no change in price for us. $.83 per pound times 18 pounds of feed.
Pause: Before my bird starts laying, I have spent $13.12 to procure the chick and feed it for 22 weeks. We have spent $25.03
Resume: We have eggs!Cost of feed for the next 30 weeks of the year. Layer feed is less. $13.83 including tax for a 50 pound bag or $0.28 per pound. Layers eat about 1.5 pounds of feed per week. And 1.5 pounds times $0.28 per pound times 30 equals …
Our layer feed is also cheaper at $27.14 for #40 or $.68 per pound.
On average, a heritage bird will lay five eggs per week. In 30 weeks, that’s 150 eggs, assuming you light the coop to keep up winter production. You've spent $25.72 to get and feed your bird for a year. You have charged her an additional $11.82 in birdie rent based on fixed costs (see below). We've spent $55.63 to get and feed a hen for a year and $7.64 in "birdie rent".
You've officially spent $37.54 $63.27 on your bird for the year. She’s given you 12.5 dozen eggs. At $0.41 $.50 per egg, she has saved you $61.50 $75.00. A net savings of (drumroll please) … $23.96 $11.73
A NOTE ABOUT FIXED COSTS: There is an initial infrastructure investment. You need a brooder with lights for the chicks, a coop with perches and nest boxes, waterer, feeder and bedding. These are based on the chicken keeper. You can make a brooder out of a salvaged cardboard box and duct tape and can use a free five-gallon bucket to make a waterer. You can make your coop from scrap lumber off craigslist or build the Taj Mahal. I have estimated those costs here because they need to be amortized over the life of the items (how long your coop will last) and the number of all the birds who will ever live inside of it (like birdie rent payments). We are working on a new YouTube video with an update on the coop. It should be out by this weekend!
Here’s an example so you can figure it out based on your own numbers.
• Cost of 6×6 coop: $500 $175
• 3 brooder lamps and bulbs: $50 $0- we used cfl bulbs we already had.
• Brooder: Free if you use scrap.
• Bedding: Free if you make your own.
• Waterer: $6 if you use the 5 gallon bucket hack. $8.50 for our waterer and nipples.
• Feeder: $15 $7.50
• Total cost: $591Assume your items will last for 5 years and you do 10 birds a year.
Our total cost $191
• $591/50 birds = $11.82 per bird in fixed costs (bird rent). $191/50 birds=$7.64
To figure out your own costs, just change out the numbers I have entered and put in your own. I’m interested to hear what other people come up with in other parts of the country!
The story doesn't end there for us though.
($3.44 times 2.5 bags times 50 hens.)
Then there are the intangibles! The hours of amusement they provide, their companionship, their unequaled pest control, namely the grubs and bugs they consume and their rototilling capacity in the raised beds between plantings.
So to answer the 2 big questions: Yes, $5.00/dozen is a reasonable price for the eggs and a resounding YES, they are worth having on your property!!