My wife loves the idea of being sustainable (and healthy). Chickens have been the conversation as of late… “What if the economy imploded and there were suddenly no jobs available? What if the dollar suddenly became worthless? How would we buy anything? What would we eat?” Here we go – chickens to the rescue! 😉 Seriously though…In all of this, my main question is, “Does raising chickens save money?” Is it actually worth the hassle of having chickens on our property? I’m not convinced, but I figured I should at least do the math before I upset my spouse and then also realize that I cost myself a bunch of money by not investing in chickens.
Are you wondering the same thing?
Will having chickens actually save you money?
Either I’m going to arm you with information so you can evade these feathered fiends from entering your property…or I might just find out that owning chickens will save you tons of money! (If this is the case and you really just hate the idea of having chickens, I give you permission to clear your Internet history, dispose of this page, and just pretend like this post never existed! I won’t blame you, and my feelings won’t be hurt, don’t worry! Lol! :))
But we’d better get to it. Let’s figure out the costs of chickens, the ways that chickens will save you money, and walk through any other benefits owning chickens might have on you and your property.
Is It a Lot of Work to Raise Chickens?
I’m currently reading an article put together by TheHappyChickenCoop.com, and I’m honestly getting stressed out with all the things you should know about chickens:
- Chicken coops can cost $200+, and you likely need a bigger coop than you think (ie. more costly as well!)
- Chickens can get sick and require a separate space to roam
- If they get sick, they’ll likely need medicine as well
- Chickens will attract mice and many predators (possums, racoons, hawks, coyotes, etc.)
- Chickens are stubborn and will often escape
- They may need to be groomed
- Chickens get bigger than you think and poop more than you think
- There’s starter feed, grower feed, and layer feed…depending on the age of your chickens
- And, there are like 40 other things you might want to know, YIKES!
So, is it a lot of work to raise chickens?
It takes a bit of work to start (you’ll need a coop and a fenced in area), and then you’ll need to make sure your birds are protected. And, you’ll of course need to feed them twice a day. Beyond this though, you really just need to leave your chickens alone. Don’t crowd them and they’ll do just fine. (At least…this is what I know from my 15 minutes of research thus far. Don’t consider me the expert yet! Maybe by the end of this article…but not yet! ;))
Is It Cheaper to Raise Your Own Chickens?
Let’s just talk about chicken feed and the cost benefit of the eggs for a second. Between just the simple variable of feeding chickens vs. what you save by not having to buy eggs anymore, is it cheaper to raise your own chickens?
The cost of chicken feed per month
According to MrAnimalFarm.com, it costs between $0.07 and $0.15 to feed a single chicken per day. For simple math, let’s just say it costs $0.10 per chicken per day. That’s just $0.70 a week.
Does raising chickens save money?
To figure this out, we need to keep digging into this math equation…
Now that we know how much it costs to feed a chicken each week, the next thing we need to know is how many eggs we can get from each chicken!
At their peak, chickens can lay one egg per day. On average though, chickens lay approximately 100 eggs a year, which is one egg every 3 days. So, we’ll say roughly 2 eggs per week.
Is it cheaper to raise your own chickens? Or just buy eggs from the store?
If I pop over to our local Aldi right now, I can buy eggs for roughly $2.50 per dozen. That’s just 21 cents per egg.
If one chicken costs $0.10 a day to feed and that chicken produces just one egg every 3 days. That egg is costing you $0.30.
So, without factoring in the cost of a coop or medical care for your chickens, it’s already more costly to have chickens for egg laying vs. just sauntering over to the store and grabbing a few cartons for the week.
Is It Financially Beneficial to Raise Chickens For Eggs?
Alright, we just figured out that it costs more to feed a chicken than it does to just buy chicken eggs from the store. But…I didn’t really host a fair fight here.
For all of you that are currently yelling at your phones or laptop screens, you can stop. It’s time to consider the cost of free-range organic eggs (not the cheap white eggs that were part of my cost-comparison above). After all, that’s probably why you’re considering buying a bunch of chickens anyway – so you can feed yourself and your family with wholesome food, and potentially at a lower cost.
So, what is the cost of organic free range eggs?
Based on my semi-consistent runs to the supermarket, these eggs can often cost you $6 per dozen.
Knowing this, is it financially beneficial to raise chickens for eggs?
Does raising chickens save money…?
For a $6 carton of a dozen eggs, the cost per egg is $0.50. And remember the cost of chicken feed per egg if you do it all yourself? $0.30 per egg.
Aha…this is suddenly getting interesting! With this calculation, you’re starting to save money with your new homesteader lifestyle!
However, we do still need to factor in the cost of the coop and the medical needs of your chickens. If we consider these costs, does raising chickens save money at all? How many years does it take to break even raising chickens for eggs?
Does raising chickens save money? Is it cheaper to raise your own chickens vs. just getting a dozen eggs from the store every week?
First, we need to factor in the initial fixed cost — the chicken coop.
Then, we need to factor in the variable costs — chicken feed and medical needs.
From there, we can accurately estimate if raising chickens will actually save you money. And, if they do, we can forecast how long it will actually take to breakeven on that initial cost of the chicken coop.
The Cost of a Chicken Coop
Let’s say you’re looking to get roughly 10 egg-laying hens. You’re going to need a fairly sizable chicken coop and run. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a chicken coop is $650, and then you still need a run. All-in, you can pretty easily spend $1,000 on a house for your chickens. Honestly, you can spend far more, but let’s say you find a bargain and you can limit it to just $1,000.
And remember, if you want more chickens, you’re going to have to spend more on the pen.
Vet Costs for Chickens
What about vet costs? Have you even considered this? I wouldn’t have, but apparently it can cost $100 to nurse a sick hen back to health! Let’s just assume that your flock needs one of those vet visits per year, which means $100 for every year you have those egg-laying beauties.
The Cost of Chicken Feed Per Egg Produced
And, remember the cost of feed? We discovered that it costs roughly $0.10 to feed one chicken per day, and that a single chicken produces roughly 1 egg every 3 days.
This means that each egg costs you roughly $0.30 when you consider only the feed. This is roughly $0.20 cheaper than the organic free-range brown eggs that you buy at the store.
- With 1 chicken, you’ll get roughly 2.5 eggs per week
- With 10 chickens, you’ll get about 25 eggs per week
- At $0.20 saved per egg, you’ll save roughly $5 per week vs. the costly eggs at the store
- That’s $260 in savings per year!
So what does this mean when you put it all together?
Does raising chickens save money?
It’s time to find out!
- The initial cost of the chicken coop = $1,000
- Annual medical costs for the hens = $100
- Annual savings vs. the organic brown eggs at the store = -$260
Time for some algebra here:
- $1,000 coop = ($160 savings) x (# years to break even)
- $1,000/$160 = # years to break even
- # years to break even = 6.25 years
So, on average, it will take just over 6 years to break even on raising chickens for eggs if you have 10 hens. After that, you’ll save roughly $160 a year from your at-home egg production center. 🙂
Soooo…it’s definitely not a slam-dunk decision to go for the chickens if you want to save money. It will save you nothing for 6 years, and then after that, the savings are honestly still pretty minimal.
How Many Chickens Do I Need to Make a Profit?
What if you wanted to ramp up your savings with egg-laying chickens? Well, you’d need more chickens of course!
Let’s say that instead of 10 hens, you get 50. Sure, you’ll need a larger coop and chicken run, but your annual savings would be much greater!
- With 50 hens, you’d probably needs to spend $3,000 on chicken housing
- Also, those hens would cost you roughly $500 a year in vet costs
- The savings on eggs would still be $260 a year
- BUT, you’d be able to sell the excess eggs at say $0.30 an egg…which equates to $1,560 a year
NOW this math is actually starting to work in your favor! Based on the above numbers, you’ll be able to breakeven on your chicken investments in just 2 years. AND, after that, you’d save/earn roughly $1,300 a year on your chicken operation! Not bad!
(Spoiler alert – be sure to keep reading to discover the BEST way to make a profit with chickens!)
What are 3 Disadvantages of Raising Backyard Chickens?
Alright, so we discovered that there are some monetary advantages of raising backyard chickens. There’s also the benefit of companionship with your chickens, and the sense of accomplishment by having your own egg-producing operation! But, are there disadvantages of raising chickens? And if so, what are they?
According to the Backyard Chicken Project, there are actually 7 downsides to raising chickens. We’ll focus on just the top 3 disadvantages of raising backyard chickens here.
- Chickens require a lot of space
- You might get attached and inadvertently multiply your flock
- Chickens can outlive your other pets
Chickens Require a Lot of Space
According to Meredith (the owner of the Backyard Chicken Project), chickens need roughly 3 square feet a piece, and this is only if you have a chicken run as well (they would need more space if you don’t). So, if your coop is 4 feet by 4 feet, that’s 16 square feet, which means you should have no more than 5 chickens in that space.
You Might Get Attached
The second disadvantage leads you right back to disadvantage #1.
Chickens have unique personalities. You’ll get attached to them.
- You might feel sad because one of them doesn’t have a friend…so you get more.
- Your egg-laying hens might get too old…so you get younger ones
- Maybe they get sick…and you then get stuck with a huge bill
Getting attached usually doesn’t make life easier…or cheaper!
Chickens Can Outlive Your Other Pets
Guess how long chickens can live?
The average lifespan of a chicken is 12 years!
So, if you get started with a few chicks at age 39, you’ll probably still have them in your 50s! Whoa. That’s quite a commitment, and can be a real disadvantage if you have a big life change in there.
How Can I Make $1000 a Month From 15 Chickens?
This is a question that’s been popping up lately. I have no idea where it came from, but let’s see if it’s at all possible to figure out how to make $1000 a month from 15 chickens.
If you have 15 chickens that each produce 2.5 eggs per week, that’s roughly 38 eggs per week in total, or approximately 150 eggs per month.
At the maximum value of $0.50 per egg, you’ll earn $75 a month… That’s not even close to $1,000!
So is this even possible? Can you make $1000 a month from 15 chickens?
They call this raising broilers, and it’s one of the quickest ways to earn an income from chickens.
- You get little newborn chicks,
- you raise them for 8 weeks,
- and then you sell them for meat.
How much can you earn from raising broiler chickens?
According to The Free Range Life, you can expect to earn between $3-$5 per pound, which equates to roughly $15-$25 per bird.
If you had 15 birds, you could make a max amount of $375. It’s quick and fairly easy, but it’s still not $1000 a month.
The Real Way to Make $1000 a Month From 15 Chickens
Lisa from MuranoChickenFarm.com has our answer. She has been in the chicken biz since 2008 and has stumbled upon the absolute best way to make money with chickens.
- It’s not by selling the eggs
- It’s not by selling the meat
- Instead, you sell the chicks!
Lisa explains that it you have two groups of hens (6-7 hens per group), each with a rooster, you can produce roughly 65 eggs per week, or 260 eggs per month. These eggs produce chicks and you can sell each chick for approximately $5. And then ta-da!! You earn your $1000 a month with 15 chickens.
It’s certainly not easy, but it turns out that it IS possible!
Does Raising Chickens Save Money? The Final Verdict!
My wife inspired this article with her interest in raising broiler chickens to butcher. I’m not in love with the idea of raising chickens to chop their heads off, so I was hoping to discover that egg-laying chickens were the way to go. But, I’m not so sure I landed there either.
Here’s a quick summary of what we learned in this post. And then of course the answer to the question: “Does raising chickens save money?”
- Raising chickens takes a fair amount of planning, and quite a bit of up-front cash for a coop, a chicken run, and the chicks (likely $1,000+ to get started)
- It’s fun to have chickens since each one has a personality of their own AND producing your own eggs is quite satisfying and rewarding as well! But, there are costly downsides as well (medical bills, the urge to buy more, oh…and all the poop).
- If you have 10 egg laying hens, you could save $160 a year, but it will take over 6 years to break even on your initial $1,000 investment
- If you raise chickens for meat, you could earn roughly $187 a month with 15 of them. That’s $375 over the course of 8 weeks.
- And, if you raise chickens to produce and sell little chicks, you could earn $1,000 a month with just 15 chickens!
That pretty much sums up this post.
So, after all that, can we definitely say that raising chickens saves money? Or not?
If you’re just buying chickens to be a little hobby farmer (with say, 4-5 chickens), then no, it’s not going to save you any money. You’ll get the satisfaction of raising chickens and eating your home-grown eggs, but if you’re just looking at the monetary benefit of chickens, you’re better off going to the store and buying your eggs there.
But, if you have a group of 50 chickens or so, then yes, there’s money to be saved AND earned! With an increased quantity of birds, your break-even timeframe is roughly 2 years instead of 6!
So what should you do? Should you raise chickens to save money?
My vote is no. Not to save money. BUT, if you want to raise chickens for the experience, for the self-sustainability, and perhaps to teach your kids about responsibility, then sure, get some chickens!
What will you do? Will you be buying any chickens in the near future? Tell us in the comments below!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.