One of the common misconceptions beginners assume is that raising chickens for eggs and meat will save them money. Albeit, yes, you will save money by not having to run off to the grocery store to by eggs; however, it is not as cost-effective as you might think to raise chickens. Let’s look at it having chickens will save you money.
Raising chickens will not save you money; in fact, you will notice that it cost more to tend to their needs versus going to the grocery store. The benefit of raising chickens is not to save money but to be self-sufficient and not depend on others for food production.
In this article, I hope to show you the cost of raising chickens so that you can make the right choice. I will say, please don’t let all the details I list worry you; you can get away with raising chickens with a bare minimum setup, which will cost by far less than having everything I’m about to mention, without further ado let jump right into it.
Initial Start-Up Cost, Buying Chickens
You indeed will have an initial cost in starting your flock, and that initial cost, of course, is buying the chickens you are going to raise.
Different breeds of chickens will make your cost variant. You need to examine your goals, and why you want to raise chickens. If it’s just for eggs – consider the Silkie chicken breed, if you want both meat and eggs consider a longhorn.
You can start off your flock with buying baby chicks from a farming store, like Tractor Supply or similar.
I’ll admit starting with chicks is more time consuming, but more fun! You will have to wait to reap the rewards.
If you do decide to raise baby chicks, you’ll also need to have some sort of heating source to keep your new peepers warm and cozy. You’ll get to watch them, and can bond with them until they grow old enough to transition outside.
My recommendation for people that want to start with chickens that are already laying is to look for local chicken swaps; depending on your area, you should be able to find one closer than you think.
You can expect to pay $5.00 minimum and up, per bird. Once again, different breeds have different costs. But that $5.00 per bird is rare to find and are often low producing, but they should be enough to get your beak wet with raising chickens.
Realistically expect to pay around $15.00 per adult chicken.
I also recommend having at least three chickens, chickens are social creatures, and they don’t like to be alone.
Chicken Feed Cost
Depending on how you raise your chickens, you may need to provide a supplemental food source. Chicken feed isn’t cheap by any means, considering that it’s an expense that is reoccurring.
The average cost of chicken feed is between $10.00 and $30.00 for a 50-pound bag depending on the brand, and type of feed. Different ages of chickens require different levels of nutrition. Each level has it’s own associated cost, but the average is still typical.
You can offset and reduce this cost by allowing your chickens to free-range, this is more realistic in the summer when bugs are plenty, but winter months foraging food sources become more scarce. But free-ranging your chickens does come with more inherent risk, such as predator attacks.
Another way to decrease the cost of feeding your fowl is to use better poultry feeding systems. Throwing feed on the ground is excellent for your chickens, and helps them be more like chickens with foraging, but this practice is like throwing money on the floor and not picking it up.
A proper feeding system for your chickens will not only save you money but can also save you time in your caretaking efforts. I highly recommend looking into getting a few decent feeders for your flock.
Building a Coop Cost
Your chickens are going to need a place to nest, and coops aren’t exactly cheap to build. Surely you can get away with repurposing old sheds, dog houses, or anything else that you can house a chicken in, but for most people, this might not be an immediate option.
Building a coop is expensive, and albeit, it’s often a one time expense unless you are expanding your flock even further, but it for sure adds to the cost of making chickens less appealing to raise to save money.
You can expect to spend at minimum $100.00 on a building/creating a chicken coop, more realistically about $500.00, and if you want to get fancy – the sky is the limit.
Don’t let the cost of the chicken coop discourage you from starting your own flock. Remember, you can reuse old materials.
My recommendation would be to look online for people selling old dog houses, or old wooden box structures. This will take some time to prep but will save you some money.
If you are looking to go all out you can find some awesome chicken coop plans online for free, and browse the countless others that have been handcrafted to gain some inspiration.
Building a Run Cost
A run isn’t that complicated to create, it’s just a barrier between the outside world and your chickens. You can get away with not having a run, but this will come at the cost of exposing your flock to predators.
The cost of enclosing your run of the coop in with chicken wire can vary, depending on the quality and how much you want to enclose. The average price to enclose a run is between $0.50 – $3.50, the more materials you add, the more costly it will become.
Remember, chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in, but not predators out. Predators can easily tear through chicken wire.
Like with the chicken coop, you can save money by buying or reusing old materials. One of our runs that we have for our chickens is made up of old long pallets. You can find pallets for dirt cheap or often free, it might not look pretty at first, but it will save you money.
If you do decide to let your chickens free-range I would consider a guard animal to help protect your chickens if possible.
A factor that most people don’t consider is the cost of electricity used to maintain the flock.
Electricity is not a must, but it’s highly recommended to have run to y our coop for a few reasons such as lighting, heating, and cooling.
While the cost to run these items is often minimum, you can notice a difference in your power bill for sure. Heat lamps to keep your chickens warm in the winter, lighting to make them produce eggs at peek performance, these things draw a lot of energy.
All these extras add up. This is not to mention if you are incubating your own eggs to produce more birds adding additional cost to your electricity bill.
Your chickens can get sick, and when they get sick you need to provide them with medicine. This is a must, and not a wanna, kinda sorta need. It’s a MUST! Take care of your animals, they will take care of you.
One sick chicken can destroy the entire flock.
Medicine for chickens is relativity inexpensive, but it still is a cost factor. Expect to spend less than $25.00 to have some medicine and antibiotics on hand.
I highly recommend having at least Corid on hand just in case your chickens start to develop coccidiosis. Corid will allow you to treat but doesn’t guarantee the survival of your chickens that catch this deadly parasite.
A major cost is your time, time is something you can never get back.
Unless you are willing and able to invest at least 30 minutes a day or more to tend to your flock’s needs, you are going to have problems in the long run.
It’s not that you can’t spend just a few minutes a day with them and collect their eggs. You have to feed them, clean their waterers, food bowls, observe behavior to spot illness and more.
Granted after you have spent some time this will become easier but it still something for you to consider.
Surely if you enjoy raising chickens for the fact of raising chickens the time will fly by and you will love the time you spend with them.
But, if your goal is to just have eggs and meat to cut costs in might not be a good idea to have them.
Do the Benefits Out Weight the Cost of Raising Chickens?
Certainly by now you can see that raising chickens isn’t exactly cheap.
I mean honestly think about it, for less than $2 you can go to the grocery store and buy a dozen eggs, for less than $10 you can by a couple of pieces of chicken already harvested and ready to go.
Why on earth would someone want to raise chickens knowing they can certainly spend less at the store than investing in having chickens in their backyard?
To me the answer comes down to this. Quality, and Sustainability.
While I know that I can grab a dozen eggs and a pack of chicken at my local market, what I can’t do is know exactly where my meat and eggs have come from, and to me, that’s pretty valuable.
I don’t know if tomorrow the grocery store will be opened, or have eggs to sell.
I don’t know what type of antibiotics or chemicals they may have used to produce the eggs and the meat.
It’s all uncertain.
But what I do know is this, with my chickens in my backyard, I will always have fresh eggs and meat when I need it. Granted, I don’t do a lot of meat harvesting at this time, I know I have that option.
Self sustainability is worth having to fork out extra right now.
I also enjoy watching our flock grow and expand, and I know exactly where they came from and I know exactly how fresh the eggs they laid really are.
A bonus is fresh farm laid eggs are by far healthier for you then the mass produced cage eggs that are sold at the store.
I hoped we help you understand if chickens would help you save money. For most people, the answer is no. But the reason to raise chickens is not all about money.
Raising your own backyard chickens is about sustainability and self sufficiency.
Surely there are cost, but there is nothing better than having farm fresh eggs and fresh meat.
If you are curious about what it cost me and my wife to produce a dozen eggs we have wrote an article on it that breaks down the cost even more. Check it out and let us know what you think.
As always if you have any questions please let us know, reach out to us [email protected]
Let us know in the comments below how much you spend on your chickens, and if you think having chickens has saved you money.