Monday, April 25, 2011

Cost of Raising Chickens

Many times, people ask if it is “worth” raising your own chickens.  I would love to hear from other readers who raise chickens themselves to get their input. 

This is my point of view*:

There are many costs to begin with when raising chicks.  You have to provide them with sufficient shelter away from the elements and predators. That being said, my husband has built a portable chicken coop (aka chicken tractor).  He built the coop with materials that cost less than $125 and used paint and other items we already had on hand.

There are also the unknown factor(s) when you bring home the little chirpers for the first time.  We lost one chick within hours and another overnight.  That was a $5.00 loss within the first day. 

If you wanted to buy the food and watering dishes, that is another $15 cost from Tractor Supply Company (TSC).  We chose to make our own feeders and watering dishes at first, upgrading the watering dishes to rabbit water bottles.  One with a ball at the end, the other is a no-drip bottle.  Chickens like to walk around in their watering dishes and get bedding in it.  They had to be cleaned out twice a day.  To me, paying $10 for two rabbit water bottles was well worth it and makes the chickens that much more maintenance-free! 

Then you have food.  You can buy different ingredients and make your own feed if you wish (to keep them organic).  We took the simple route and bought a 20 lb. bag of chick starter/grower from TSC for $7.99.  Even after 2 months and their growing appetites, the chicks are on their first bag of feed.  We supplement their feed with cracked corn ($2.99/5 lb bag), oatmeal, and anything that may have gone stale in our cupboards.  I have given the chicks pieces of bread, potatoes, and apples, but they seem to prefer the carbs (oatmeal and cereal)!

Let’s do some comparisons (oh how I love numbers).

Based on their food and the cost of the chicks alone, we paid:

·        6 chicks - $15
·        40 lbs of feed - $15.98
o       20 lbs at $7.99
o       We will need second bag to last until the chicks begin to lay
·        5 lbs of cracked corn - $2.99

Total for chicks and feed for first 6 months of life:  $33.97

Based on building a coop, supplies needed to water and feed chicks and food:

·        6 chicks - $15
·        40 lbs of feed - $15.98
o       20 lbs at $7.99
o       We will need to get a second bag before the chicks begin laying
·        5 lbs of cracked corn - $2.99
·        $125 building supplies for coop
·        $7 for watering dish at TSC (we bought two rabbit water bottles for $10)
·        $8 for food dish at TSC (we made our own for $0.70 total)

Total for chicks, feed, housing, food and watering supplies: approximately $200!

Are they worth it?


·        $4.00/dozen organic eggs (thank you, Rachel for the price reference!)
·        Each chick lays one egg a day, every day (this is very optimistic)
·        Chicks begin to lay eggs at 6 months of age

Based on the assumptions above, the break even point of owning chickens would be:

  • 8 1/2 dozen eggs based on the chicks and their food costs alone
    • Assuming 4 chicks laying 4 eggs a day, it would take 26 days to break even
    • Assuming 6 chicks laying 6 eggs a day, it would take 17 days to break even
  • 50 dozen eggs based on chicks, coop, feed, food and watering supplies
    • Assuming 4 chicks laying 4 eggs a day, it would take 150 days to break even
    • Assuming 6 chicks laying 6 eggs a day, it would take 100 days to break even
Every time you have to go and buy more feed or make your own, you are adding an additional 2 dozen eggs needed for the chicks to break even.

As you can see, it is much more cost effective if you didn’t have any (or very low) housing start-up costs; however, it appears that within the first year of life, each chick would theoretically pay itself off. 

Stop on by tomorrow to see Todd's homemade chicken coop.  It looks great! I cant wait for it to warm up enough to let the chickens live in it for good!

(I hope this makes sense and I didn’t mix any computations up!)

*Please note: I am only speaking from 2 months worth of experience.  I am not an expert by any means.


  1. I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to try that. I can't commit to a hamster yet.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. I had wanted to raise chickens but was told I was not allowed to where I live. My sister in laws parents raise chickens and have asked me if I would like to buy eggs from them. Of course I said yes so now I am able to get fresh organic eggs for $1.00 a dz compared to $2.27 a dz in the store