I suspect having chickens won’t actually save us money overall (because, uh, I don’t actually buy free range eggs). But it’s fun to have chickens around, and we’ll have truly free range eggs once they start laying.
Here’s a breakdown of the cost of getting set up with chickens.
Buying a chicken coop – $220
Originally we’d planned to build a chicken coop, but after looking at the cost of kitset coops online and the cost of raw materials, we decided to buy one premade. It came in pieces, with (largely incomprehensible) instructions and we put it together ourselves.
The high end ones go for around $500-600; at the budget end, you might find homemade tiny coops for $50. The ones that are around $100 or less on TradeMe are often also billed as being for bunnies, for what it’s worth.
Water dispenser – $12
From the local pet store. We didn’t buy a special feed container; we just use a small metal bowl we already had.
Feed – $15
Our first bag of feed was a small one from the pet shop and didn’t last very long – a week or two? We now buy chicken feed from the supermarket and a $10 bag lasts maybe a month.
Hay – $10
There’s a local-ish lady who specialises in all things rabbit-related. She offers heaps of stuff for small animals, including fresh hay she packages up herself and sells online.
Two chickens – $50
I wanted to get chickens from a nearby farm, but the one I contacted never responded. (Similarly, I still haven’t heard back from a local dog daycare dude who runs a service on his farm around the corner … I want to give you my money, seriously!) So we got our birds from our local pet shop. It has an entire bird barn – this part is bigger than the normal pet store part – so I didn’t feel too bad about this, as it’s actually a specialty of theirs.
We also recently built a big run for them, which cost about $180 in materials (though we didn’t use all of them). For a while we let them run around freely but they seriously crap everywhere and it was getting a bit much. (At one point they were even drinking from the dog bowl, which I found amusing.)
ETA: Right after I published this post, they finally laid their first eggs! Here’s hoping they get the hang of it fast – so far they’re averaging one each every other day.
We have six ladies. They give us an average 4 eggs a day year round. We usually each have two for breakfast, so they are earning their keep at our place. So tasty, and healthy.
I had chickens for twp years! Sonewsy to take care of, and the eggs were great. I wish we still had them!
Love this! My brother and his wife have chickens and they just love having them around. They give away extra eggs and people always say they are the best they ever tasted!
Hooray for chickens! I’m planning to get back into keeping hens now that I have a house. I’m allowed up to 4 hens (hens ONLY) here, and even though it’s just me, I’ll probably do just that. Eggs are great for sharing with neighbors who may be a bit skittish about having chickens nearby. 😉
I have a spot picked out in the backyard, but I think I’m going to have to wait until next year to get my hens since the house down payment, etc. have whittled down my savings so much. I want to get a good coop, and as you’ve noted the upfront costs for a good one aren’t minuscule.
I love free range eggs and you can definitely taste the difference. Are you feeding then only with purpose, bought chicken feed? We always fed ours with food scraps and apart from some crushed shell we bought (apparently helps them create better egg shell) we never bought any additional feed. And there’s something a bit therapeutic about watching then pick and scratch around the garden too.
Nope they get scraps too. But we really don’t have enough to feed them alone on scraps. Been crushing up egg shells for them occasionally, and just bought a bag of gritty stuff (forget exactly what) to help with better shells for when they do start laying. Love watching them scratch around. Didn’t love the poop everywhere so now they have their own run!
Nice one. We had them wandering in and out of the house when the doors were left open in summer…..in suburbia lol. I’m sure our neighbors thought we were living some sort of hippy, ‘The Good Life’ existence. But we had fresh eggs and they didn’t. The only downside, the occasional poop in the house. And yes, it does stainless carpet lol.
Very cool! Our neighbors got three chickens a few months ago and it’s always fun to see them running around the yard. They let them roam free most of the time and it reminded me how inhumane factory farming is. I’m not sure raising chickens is for me but I definitely encourage others to do it!
What a cool idea! I have often imagined about owning chickens, though I’m 99% sure we never will. How often do they lay eggs?
This is such an awesome, wholesome thing.
Not laying yet! Can’t wait till they do.
Thanks for the breakdown in costs as I’ve been curious for a long time. You have a couple of beautiful chickens! I have wanted chickens for such a long time but hubby (and my mom who would have to feed them when I travel) are not on board. Sigh.
Nice article! I love raising little chicks, and the breakdown in costs is pretty spot on. I would like to add that if you are a bit of a handyman you can easily build your own.
If you aren’t a handyman, then you might want to look at some of the more expensive coops. There are $500-800 coops that although they are quite expensive, will most likely last for decades.
Lastly, if you go for hens consider getting a few extra and sell or “give away” the eggs in your neighbourhood. Even when giving away most neighbours will be either willing to pay your chicken food regularly or hand you back other gifts. 😉
Our family eats 5 or more dozen eggs a week (8.5 eggs per day) which costs us $25. I buy from a work mate and she delivers to the door! But over a year that works out to be $1300 on eggs along!
I’m now considering having chooks ourselves, but wondering if it will be economical to do so. Would we need 10 chickens to ensure supply? How long does a chicken go on laying for, and once the coop has been paid for, what would be the cost of feed per month etc.
Lots of questions, and as a new owner I don’t have the answers! Am just beginning the journey and chickens only literally started laying this week.
Sounds like you eat a lot of eggs and would probably need a ton of chickens to match. Chickens don’t lay forever, either. And as I say with feed, a $10 bag lasts our two chooks a month – may be different where you live, and your future chickens may have different feeding habits. Recommend googling, there’s lots of info out there from people iwht more experience.
It will be quite close I think. Generally having your own chickens isn’t profitable, mainly due to the feeding costs.
Chickens usually lie 3-6 eggs a week during their first year, after which it drops roughly 20% per year. If you want to have a lot of eggs, you will need to buy young chickens and sell or eat them whenever they are 1-2 years old.
I coincidentally wrote an article about earning money with backyard chickens two days ago, which you can see here (feel free to remove the link if linking isn’t allowed):
Don’t bother with chickens solely for profit. However, if you like chickens AND you are willing to put in some time and effort in earning some money, there are options to earn a bit of side money.