Are you considering starting a backyard chicken flock for fresh eggs and a sense of self-sufficiency? While it may seem like a great idea, it’s essential to consider the financial aspects before deciding. Here’s what you need to know.
Egg-cellent Savings or Money Pit?
Comparing the cost of store-bought eggs to those from your backyard flock largely depends on the type of eggs you’re currently buying.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of a dozen large grade-A eggs from a grocery store in a U.S. metropolitan area was $1.83 in March 2018. In 2022 that price shot up to $4.25.
But raising your own chickens could be cheaper if you’re buying organic, free-range eggs that are often $7+ dollars. Davin Eberhardt, the founder of Nature of Home, calculates that it costs him $4.75 per dozen eggs to care and feed for his chickens.
However, building housing that helps keep the birds safe and healthy can add to the overall cost.
Choosing the Right Chickens for You
When choosing chickens, it’s important to remember that chickens are social animals and need at least four birds to huddle for warmth early on.
Generally, bird prices are less than $5 each at a feed store, but fancier breeds can cost up to $50 per hen (there are even all-black chicken breeds that costs thousands of dollars).
You should look for “sexed chicks” to ensure you’re getting all females, as you are taking a chance with “straight-run” chicks, and you could end up with some roosters in the mix.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also holds chicken adoption events for birds rescued from poorly-run egg farms, which can be an excellent option for those looking to adopt chickens.
Raising Chicks vs. Adult Chickens
It is often suggested that new poultry owners acquire baby chicks and raise them until they reach adulthood instead of buying fully-grown chickens.
During this period between hatching and being ready to move into the coop, the chicks require a container with smooth sides, bedding material, a heat source, and specialized foodstuff which costs more than regular chicken feed.
Time is the more considerable expenditure: Chicks have to be watched. But, after the chicks are grown, they require less upkeep. Much less than, say, a cat or dog.
Building a Coop on a Budget
When constructing a henhouse, the local farm store might offer intricate chicken coops that cost hundreds of dollars, but a basic one can be constructed from reclaimed materials.
With a bit of creativity, you can build a functional and stylish coop without breaking the bank. Ensure you follow the proper principles of coop design to prevent health issues.
So, Will You Save Money?
Overall, raising chickens in your backyard can be a great way to have fresh, healthy eggs and promote self-sufficiency. However, it’s important to consider the costs and responsibilities before making the decision.
With the proper planning and preparation, you can have a backyard flock that’s both enjoyable and financially viable. But, over the long run eggs prices should normalize.
At that point, buying eggs from the grocery store is usually cheaper than raising your own when you consider your time and materials.
Although, if you have the free time, get creative on materials and use natural feed that is often inexpensive and healthy for the girls; it can save you money and provide high-quality, tasty eggs.