How Much Do Chickens Cost to Keep?
Are you considering keeping chickens in your backyard? Most likely, you have many questions to ask about raising chickens. One question I hear a lot from beginners is how much chickens cost to keep.
The cost of raising chickens can fluctuate significantly depending on several factors, like where you live, the number of chickens you want to raise, and the cost of setting up or purchasing a chicken coop.
Cost of Raising Backyard Chickens
There isn’t a specific cost of keeping chickens because multiple factors will determine how much you will incur when raising your chickens. Here are the key factors influencing how much you will incur while rearing chickens.
– Buying Livestock
The cost of your livestock (the number of birds in your flock) is among the upfront costs you will incur when raising chickens. The cost of chicken livestock depends on the breed and the age of the chickens in the flock at the time you purchase the birds.
The cost of common chicken breeds like Australorps, Plymouth Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds is between $2 and $ 5 for a one-day-old chick. Baby chicks from rare chicken breeds like Easter Eggers cost around $30 per chick. Raising chickens can be expensive if you want to keep adult chickens.
For instance, some breeds cost more than others, so you will have to pay more if you want to raise expensive adult chicken breeds. Pullets or young hens cost between $12 and $25 per bird. Adult hens from several breeds cost around $30 per bird.
Roosters can cost approximately $25 depending on the breed, although some breeds are costlier than others. Overall, the age and size of your chicken flock will determine how much it will cost you to raise the flock.
The cost, for instance, will be high if your flock has adult chickens from rare breeds. However, the price of starting your poultry farming venture will be lower if you start with day-old chicks from inexpensive breeds.
– Chicken Feed
Chicken feed is perhaps the most significant recurring expense of keeping chickens. A baby chick will consume around a pound of feed weekly during its first ten weeks. A mature chicken will consume around 1.5 pounds of chicken feed weekly, although feed consumption can decline if an adult bird can free-range.
So you may wonder how precisely chicken feed affects the overall cost of keeping chickens. Take chick starter feed or crumbles, for instance. They cost between $0.50 and $.75 per lb., although some expensive organic options exist. Layer pellets for adult hens can cost between $0.25 and $0.75 per lb.
Some organic layer pellets cost around 1.50 per lb. When raising adult chickens, you will spend more on chicken feed. The costlier the feed your chickens consume, the higher the cost of raising the birds. Also, the cost of raising your birds will be high if you feed them expensive organic feed.
Raising chickens requires poultry farmers to have some essential equipment.
— Feeder & Waterer
For instance, you need poultry feeders to feed your birds. The price of poultry feeders can be high or cheap depending on the quality and number of feeders you require to raise your flock.
It also depends on the brand of the feeder. That means the cost of keeping chickens will increase if you buy expensive quality feeders from trusted feeders.
Those raising dozens of chickens will require more feeders, so they will spend more on the feeders, ultimately increasing the cost of raising their birds. Similarly, raising chickens will be cheaper if you choose cheap feeders from lesser-known poultry brands. Furthermore, you will need to spend less on poultry feeders if you have a few chickens since they will need fewer feeders.
Chicken drinkers are also crucial equipment to purchase when raising chickens because your chickens will require water throughout. They aren’t that expensive but buying too many drinkers can be costly in the long run, ultimately increasing the cost of raising your chickens.
The chicken drinker’s quality can also add to the cost of raising your flock. Plastic drinkers, for instance, are costlier than their metallic counterparts, so you will have to spend more on drinkers if you opt for metallic drinkers.
Although poultry heaters aren’t mandatory for chicken raisers, you need heaters when raising your chickens in cold climates. Consequently, you will need more heaters if you are looking forward to warming a large flock, so you will spend more on poultry heaters, ultimately affecting your chicken-raising budget.
— Nest Boxes
Nest boxes are crucial for chicken raisers keeping chickens strictly for eggs. The more hens you have, the most nest boxes you will require to give the ladies somewhere to lay. That would mean purchasing more nest boxes, increasing the cost of raising chickens.
However, you will spend less on nest boxes if you have a few hens, and thus you won’t need a bigger budget, especially if you are raising your flock for meat production.
Bedding is another essential accessory to invest in while raising chickens. However, chicken bedding can dramatically increase the cost of raising the flock. Chicken beddings aren’t the same because some bedding options are better than others in terms of availability and compostability.
However, some options, like hemp and hay, can be more expensive than wood shavings and dry leaves. The cheaper the chicken bedding is, the lower the cost you will incur when raising chickens.
For example, one bale of hemp goes for around $40. Hemp is, therefore, an expensive bedding option for prospective chicken keepers striving to raise chickens on a budget. Moreover, hemp isn’t readily available, unlike wood shavings. These shavings cost between $6 and $10 per bale, which can help you lower the cost you incur when purchasing bedding for the flock.
– Chicken Coop
The choice of chicken coop you make will ultimately affect the overall cost of raising your flock. Those who build DIY chicken coops from scratch will spend less on coops, unlike those who opt for prebuilt coops.
Moreover, building a chicken coop will also help you make something that will accommodate all your fowl. Prebuilt chicken coops have their limitations because they can only accommodate a couple of chickens.
However, building a DIY chicken coop will still incur some costs. For example, you must factor in the expenses you incur when purchasing building materials such as wood, nails, chicken wire, and door latches.
In addition to these building materials, you will need to pay extra charges if you would like the coop to have a chicken run that will give your chickens protection against hostile weather elements while giving them a glimpse of freedom to be outdoors.
Chicken raisers that don’t have the skills to build DIY chicken coops will have no choice but to purchase prebuilt cages, especially if they don’t intend to keep dozens of chickens. Get a high-quality prebuilt chicken coop if you can’t make a DIY coop for your birds. However, get your prebuilt cage from a reputable manufacturer.
Most importantly, an excellent prebuilt coop should have nesting boxes, good ventilation, and enough roosting spaces for each fowl. Some prebuilt coops come with enclosed outdoor runs to allow chickens access to grass, insects, and other items without exposing them to voracious predators. Building a DIY coop is 30 to 50% cheaper than purchasing a prebuilt cage.
– Chicken Medication
Chickens usually fall ill, and thus they need medication to overcome several poultry diseases. The cost of the chicken medication will significantly increase the overall cost of raising chickens. Some medications can cost up to $50. You will have to budget on chicken medication because your birds will likely get sick.
– Your Labor and Time
Although some people prefer to do all the tasks while raising chickens, raising chickens can be pretty demanding, especially for those raising these birds for commercial purposes. Such chicken keepers will have to factor in labor costs while budgeting for raising chickens.
For instance, you need to pay someone to clean the coop if you have a hectic schedule. You will also have to pay someone to construct a good coop for your fowl if you lack the skills to build one. You may also have to employ someone part-time to care for your birds.
Cost of Raising 10 Chickens
Check this table on the average cost of raising a flock of ten chickens
|Items||Yearly Average Cost of Raising 10 Hens|
|Chicken coop for ten chickens||$300|
|Chicken feed for ten chickens||$1,000|
|Chicken bedding for ten chickens||$200|
|Equipment for Raising ten chickens||$500|
|Chicken medication for ten Chickens||$200|
|The labor cost of Raising ten chickens||$300|
|Total Cost of Raising Ten Chickens||$2,500|
Saving Money While Raising Chickens
Here are some points to help you lower the cost of raising chickens:
- Allow your flock to free-range to save on the expenses you will incur purchasing chicken feed
- Build a chicken coop instead of buying a premade coop
- Start with raising baby chicks since they are cheaper than adult chickens
- Go for cheaper breeds if you are keeping chickens on a budget
- Start with a few chickens to help you incur fewer expenses
Raising chickens comes with costs, although raising a flock doesn’t have to be a costly venture. After all, keeping chickens is pretty rewarding because you will never miss eggs and delicious meat on your table. You can raise chickens without incurring many expenses if you save money while raising your birds.