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.