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  • #10616
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Survivalist
    exprepper

    So your kids (or spouse) talked you into chickens. Now, one of the first questions that came up was probably: “How much is this going to cost?” The good news is chickens are really not that expensive to keep and there are lots of ways to cut costs and save money. This article will give you an idea of how much you can expect to fork out for the chickens and their basic needs, as well as some ongoing costs. Let’s say your starting small, with only 3 hens. The approximate costs would be:

    Chickens: $3.00 to $30.00 per chicken depending on breed and age.

    Coop: $50.00 (secondhand/recycled) to $600.00 (new)

    Feed approximately $15.00 per month.

    Miscellaneous $10.00 per month.

    **Please note: that all prices listed here are estimates only and can vary greatly from state to state, between cities and towns etc. So shop around for the best prices before buying, especially with ongoing expenses such as feed..

     

    BUYING CHICKENS

    **Tip: Starting with small chicks instead of buying mature chickens can save you quite a bit of money, though the downside is you will have to wait 5-6 months for eggs. I once calculated that if I bought day-old chicks instead of POL hens from a breeder, I would’ve spent half the money I paid for those pullets!

    If you decide to raise your own chicks you can expect to pay $3.00 and $5.00 per chick (day-old) for popular breeds and for rare breeds you can expect to pay up to $50.00 or more per chick.

    Older chicks and mature chickens’ prices vary greatly between breeds, age of the chickens etc. Expect to pay $20.00 and $50.00 for a pullet and $5.00 to $15.00 per rooster. **Tip: Unwanted roosters are often offered “free to good homes”, so if you’re not fussy about the breed/quality and want to get a rooster for your flock, keep an eye out for Free Re-Homing adverts.

    HOUSING YOUR FLOCK

    If you decide to raise chicks you will need a brooder for them. A basic pre-made brooder will cost you between $75.00 and $100.00. Most chicken owners build their own or improvise brooders out of a large range of items. Old rubber maid tubs, crates, packing cases etc will serve you well for a small number of chicks. (Make sure you allow enough space – ideally at least 1 sq foot per chick – for the little guys as they will need to stay in there for around 6 weeks, unless the weather is really mild and you can move them to the coop sooner.) You can also build your brooder out of recycled materials. See here for designs and ideas.

    You will need to keep the chicks warm for the first few weeks while they are feathering out. A heat lamp and bulb will cost between $20.00 and $28.00.

    Feeders and waterers for the brooder (and later the coop) cost between $8.00 and $40.00, depending on size and design. You can save money by making your own waterers and feeders. **Tip: Egg boxes make excellent “feeders” in the brooder and most shallow, clean, dishes can work quite well for water while the chicks are small.

    Older chicks and mature chickens will need a coop to sleep and lay their eggs in. A pre-made coop can cost you anywhere from $50.00 for a small, secondhand coop to $4000.00+ for a brand new, made-to-order chicken mansion. You can save a LOT of money building your own coop, see here for coop designs.

     

    FEEDING AND BEDDING

    A 50 lbs bag of chick starter crumbles will cost you around $15.00- $18.00. Prices differ quite a bit between medicated, non-medicated, organic and regular feed and of course between different brands. **Tip: you will pay less per pound if you buy feed in large amounts.

    Grower and “all flock” feed for older chickens will cost around $17.00 per 50 lbs bag and layer pellets between $15.00 and $30.00 per 50 lbs bag, depending again on brand and whether you buy organic/regular. Scratch grains cost around $10.00 per 50 lbs bag, between depending on availability and quality.

    Wood shavings cost around $6.00 (.276 cubic meter loose and .092 cubic meters compressed). Straw will cost you between $3.00 and $12.00 per bale, depending on availability, quality and size of order. Sawdust pellets will cost around $4.00 per 40 lbs bag.

    How much a chicken will eat is near impossible to say. Certain breeds, Leghorns for example, are not big eaters. It also depends on the size of the chickens are they bantams or large fowl? The time of year (chickens eat more in winter and less when it’s hot) and whether they free range or not. A free ranging chicken can find a lot of food in plant materials, bugs, etc and will eat less than a chicken that is kept confined in a coop and run. As a rough guide:

    • A chick will eat roughly 9-10 lbs of feed in it’s first 10 weeks.
    • A mature, standard size chicken will eat approximately 5 lbs of feed per month, if allowed to free range, and an active laying hen, if confined to the coop, will need around 6 lbs of feed per month.

    In addition to feed and bedding materials, add roughly $10.00 per month for miscellaneous extras, such as medicine, pest control, egg boxes etc.

    Another question that gets asked frequently is: will keeping my own hens work out cheaper in the long run than buying eggs from the shop? That very much depends on your financial input. You can save quite a bit of money by starting up and raising your chickens on a shoestring and you can save by shopping around for the best deals on feed. Here is a good discussion with tips on how to save money on chicken feed. Also check if you are allowed to sell any extra eggs in your state as that can help you recoup some money, or at the very least cover some of the feeding costs.

    Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
    George S. Patton

    #10656
    Profile photo of lci115lewis
    lci115lewis
    Survivalist
    member3

    The big advantage to having your own hens is the fact that the eggs taste so much better than store bought eggs, we now only use store bought when they have stopped laying due to the weather getting too hot, or if we need to make a bunch of hard boiled eggs (for deviled eggs usually).

    As a general rule you do not want to start with less than 3 birds, chickens are very social animals and they can get a bit strange if they are alone for too long, with 3 birds if 1 dies the other 2 can keep each other company and help bring any new birds into the pecking order with less fuss.

    We use old milk crates for our laying boxes, but then again we had an empty block shed when we bought the house, so our birds live in Fort Knox (block construction, metal door, fairly heavy welded wire fencing in the run, run covered with shade cloth and chicken wire to keep hawks out). Most of the material we have used for the chickens was re-purposed, scrounged, or given to us, so we were able to start really cheap.

    For a brooder we use an old collapsible dog kennel with 1/4 inch hardware cloth about 6″ high around the sides to keep them in the brooder until they can look after them selves a bit better, although at the moment it is housing 2 pet rabbits until the baby rabbits go to their new homes in a couple weeks and they can be moved back into the normal hutch. We just use a heat lamp bulb in a cheap reflector lamp mount, temperature is adjusted by moving where the lamp is clipped on. As much as possible we do not use an artificial brooder, we just order day old chicks when a hen goes broody, and put a half dozen chicks that look alike under her the night the chicks arrive while removing the eggs at the same time, they don’t need much care after they have been adopted by a hen.

    Rob

    #10657
    Ghost
    Ghost
    Survivalist
    member3

    Great post GWH, we had 3 chooks for a few years they were full of personality and great fun but no one ever tells you about how rowdy they can be, they don’t crow but they sure let you know they are about.

    If they go off thier laying in the colder weather, we found boiled potatoe skins mashed up with a lil hot sauce soon perked them up again.

    If at first you don't succeed, excessive force is usually the answer.

    #10661
    Profile photo of lci115lewis
    lci115lewis
    Survivalist
    member3

    Supplemental light does the trick for us when they slow down in the winter, they really want at least 12 hours of light a day for their laying cycles, so a light on a timer in the coop gives them that extra light for us. In other parts of the world where you actually have a winter that you can notice the light can also work as a space heater for the coop, not really needed here in central Arizona, but then again we have misters on our run and we know somebody who went so far as to install a window mounted AC unit in their coop.

    Rob

    #11126
    Profile photo of 74
    74
    Survivalist
    rnews

    Big problem in US cities and most suburban areas are zoning ordinances prohibiting agricultural animals.   So it’s hard to get prepped with animals.

    #11141
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Survivalist
    exprepper

    You need to check with your city hall, our neighbours complained and such. But we went to the city hall and found out that in the city limits they allow you to have no roosters, but it either three or four hens. I know alot of people in the states that didn’t know they could till they found out from their city halls.

    Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
    George S. Patton

    #11143
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Gypsy Wanderer Husky
    Survivalist
    exprepper

    Like here is a link that gives the laws for Florida. Sorry couldn’t remember who was in Florida.

    Laws
     

    on that page to help find the local chicken laws & ordinances in your city, please try the following:

    •  Click on your state in the “Popular tags” list in the menu below and to the left.

    •  Below the “Popular tags” section you can enter your city into the search box

    Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
    George S. Patton

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