What Does it Cost To Raise A Few Hens for Eggs?
What You’ll Need and the Cost of Starting a Backyard Flock
Let’s Do The Math!
Can You Have Chickens Where You Live?
Before you buy anything, make sure you’re allowed to have a backyard flock where you live. Check your local city ordinances, and remember, homeowner’s associations and residential subdivisions may have laws that aren’t included in government city ordinances.
The Cost of Getting Started
I certainly understand the cost of eggs has soared to an unreasonable price, and having your own fresh eggs every day sounds pretty nice. But like anything else, there’s a cost for that luxury. It has been said the cost of your first egg is $750, however, in today’s world, a $1,000 minimum may be closer to reality. Your baby chicks are going to need a brooder until they are 7-8 weeks old, then a suitable coop for the climate where you live. Don’t forget, there are numerous supplies needed to care for your chicks/chickens which we’ll address later in this article.
In short, you can buy an awful lot of eggs for the cost of having fresh eggs in your backyard, let’s face it, you’re going to pay for eggs one way or another. Don’t forget there’s also a monthly cost of keeping chickens, there’s feed, shavings for the coop, and other necessities and/or miscellaneous supplies.
Still Interested? Then Let’s Get Started…
The Brooder for Baby Chicks
A place to raise your baby chicks can be rather simple, a box will do, but chicks also need a drinker, feeder, and a heat source. Today, we use radiant heat, heat lamps are seldom used as they are difficult to regulate a consistent temperature, not to mention they are fire hazards. This means raising your baby chicks should be in the Spring, or when temperatures are moderate. Radiant heat is most efficient in temperatures above 55. Learn more about Radiant Heat Brooders.
The Chicken Coop
First-time buyers always buy a too-small coop, this will prove to be a mistake in the long run. Chickens need space in order to live in harmony, and happy chickens are what fill the egg basket. A coop should be easy for you to clean, and easy to gather eggs. It should be a suitable shelter for inclement weather and be predator-proof. And remember, you get what you pay for, buy quality, you’re not saving money if you have to buy a coop twice.
View Coop Types
How Much Space Do Chickens Need?
Where to Get Your Chicks and Choosing the Right Breed
Choosing a breed depends on what your chickens’ purpose is, egg production is the focus here, so learning about which hens are prolific egg layers is most important. Some breeds, especially exhibition or ornamental breeds have broody tendencies and are not a good choice for egg production. (A broody hen has a strong urge to hatch eggs, and a strong desire to sit on and incubate eggs. A broody hen will remain on the nest for extended periods of time, even when there are no eggs present. During this time she will not lay eggs.)
The Most Common Broody Breeds to Avoid
Buff Rocks, Cochins, Buff Orpington, Brahmas, Silkies, Sussex, Dominique, & Dorking.
Note: The Silkie is probably the most broody of all.
The Most Common Prolific Egg Layers
- White Leghorn: An excellent egg layer, leghorns produce 280+ eggs annually. They lay large quantities of big white eggs.
- Rhode Island Red: An excellent choice for laying 260 large brown eggs annually.
- Ameraucana: (Easter Egger) Producing around 250 eggs per year. The eggs are medium in size and can be blue, green, white, or tinted pink in color.
- Polish Chicken (Top Hat) Looking for a hen with a little more character? The Polish hens lay about 200 eggs annually. This breed is not usually found in feed stores, but are available through online hatcheries.
Where to Buy Chicks
You can usually find baby chicks in your local feed stores, but you won’t have the opportunity to choose a specific breed. There are many hatcheries online that sell just about any breed you want, and your baby chicks will be shipped to your local post office. You will be notified when they’re shipped, and when they arrive. This is primarily how I buy all my birds.
Here’s a list of Hatcheries to choose from. Wondering how many chicks to buy?
Learn More About Which Breed is Best For You
Basic Start-up Supplies For Chicks
- Brooder for chicks (Brooder Box Ideas)
- Heat Source (Radiant Heat)
- Bedding (Pine Shavings)
- Chick Feeder & Drinker
- Chick Starter Feed
- Paper Towels (Best footing for the first week in the brooder. Also for pasting-up issues.)
Basic Start-up Supplies for Chickens
- Fencing (with cover) for outdoor run.
- Roosting Bar
- Drinker & Feeder
- Nesting Boxes (1 for every 2 birds)
- Pine Shavings
- Chicken Feed
- Metal trash can for 40lb bag of feed
- Wheel barrel (for cleaning & managing pine shaving transporting feed bags.)
Let’s Do the Math
Today in Phoenix, Arizona, the price of one dozen eggs is $7.82. If you bought one dozen per week that totals $406.00 per year. Overhead on four hens for feed & shavings alone would average approximately $347.76 annually. That doesn’t include supplements, miscellaneous supplies, and YOUR TIME AND LABOR. Now add your start-up cost….is it worth it?
The real question you should be asking yourself isn’t about saving money on the cost of eggs… it’s whether or not you want to raise chickens and enjoy fresh eggs.