Once you have the chickens & the coop set up, you will see maintaining your flock is relatively inexpensive.
One time costs:
Coop & Run: $ – $$$$$$ it all depends on how handy & resourceful you are and how many bells & whistles you want. You can salvage scrap wood & wire and build a coop for next to nothing or spend thousands on a custom build
Wire Dog Crate: $25-$50 -find one used on Craigslist or at a yard sale, buy the biggest one you can afford and try to find one that folds flat when you aren’t using it. Trust me, you will be happy to have it on hand when you need it. You will use it when introducing new chickens to the flock, as a quarantine cage for sick or injured birds, a broody pen if you have a hen hatching chicks and her flock mates are bothering her, transporting chickens, or as a time out cage if you have a bully who needs to be put in her place. Click here to see how I built a mini coop for $2 perfect for this use!
Chickens: $2-$50++ each – There are a couple factors here. Chicks will always cost less than full grown hens, hens usually cost more than roosters, and rare breeds can make costs skyrocket (I’m not exaggerating to say some people will pay hundreds of dollars per chicken for quality stock, rare breed chickens). If you buy them as chicks you can expect to pay a $2-$10 per chick for most breeds, adult hens about $25-$50 per hen for most breeds.
Feed: about $1.50-$1.75 per hen per month (they each will eat about 7.5 pounds feed per month), less if you supplement their feed with kitchen scraps or free ranging. Add in another dollar or so for crushed oyster shells. Optional-treats & scratch grains are not required, but your hens will love you for it!
Litter: about $5 month – we buy a big 2 cubic foot bag of pine shavings for inside the coop and that lasts us about 2 months
Sand: we spend $60 a year for sand in our run (so to stick with the monthly budget numbers, $5 month). Our run is a bit over 200 square feet and once a year, we buy about twenty 50 pound bags of sand to replenish the run. Even if you don’t use it to cover your run the chickens will still need some sand to eat for grit.
Health Costs: minimal – we try to raise our chickens as naturally as possibly, but we occasionally have to buy medications (we had to deworm our flock once, and have also bought some respiratory medicine for a “cold” a few of them had). Once you have a good chicken first aid kit stocked you just need to replace things as they are used or expire. Click here to see what’s in my chicken first aid kit
So altogether, my flock of 13 hens & 1 rooster cost me about $25 month in feed plus another $10 in other expenses
Monetary Benefits of Chickens
Eggs: Farm Raised eggs generally sell for about $4-$5 dozen depending on where you live. Chicken laying habits vary widely according to their age, breed & amount of sunlight (they need about 14 hours of light to lay an egg). In the summer, with the longer days, our 13 hens will average 7-10 eggs a day, so about 17-25 dozen per month. We eat & give away most of the eggs to friends & family, but if we sold them all, that is $68-$125 per month in egg income. Of course, that is in the summer. In the winter with shorter days we might only get 4-5 eggs a day. You can “trick” them with daylight lamps, but we just let our girls have the winter off. Our egg production is held down a bit because we have some “senior” hens that don’t lay much. Farmers serious about egg production should cull older hens. I would say in the end, over the course of the year, our mixed age flock still pays for their feed & supplies in eggs and then some.
Compost: Chicken manure is some of the most prized fertilizer around for it’s high nitrogen content. Every couple years I used to have 5 yards of compost delivered to replenish my garden beds for about $150, and that was just composted leaves, not the rich, complex compost my chickens give me! The chickens give me plenty of compost for free now, so that is money saved right there. If you aren’t a gardener, you can still use it to fertilize your lawn or bushes organically (just remember chicken manure needs to “age” for 6-12 months first)
Chicks: If you have a rooster, you can have the added benefit of breeding. It’s not something I do because all of my chickens are different breeds, I’d likely only net $1 or so a chick for barnyard mix chicks and that is not worth the headache for me. But if you were to keep a flock of a single breed you could make significantly more than that, especially if you are raising a rare, desirable breed. You also could sell fertilized, hatching eggs for people to hatch on their own. There are some potential costs involved with breeding, like getting your flock health tested regularly and an incubator if you don’t plan to let a hen hatch the eggs out for you. You also need to make sure there will be a local market for your chicks/fertilized eggs or make plans for safely shipping them.