Owning chickens seems to be a growing hobby. I work with several people who own chickens, and we purchased our first 3 chickens in February 2019.
When someone finds out that we own chickens, their first question is, “do they save you money on eggs?”
The short truth is no. Raising chickens in our backyard does not save us any money on eggs. Here’s why.
How Much do Chickens Cost?
Each of our 3 chickens cost us less than $5. The total for all of them was about $15. Not exactly breaking the bank right? In order to keep them alive in the cold winter/spring months, we had to buy a Heat lamp and Reflective Dish.
Total Chicken Investment: $35
How Much Do Chicken Coops Cost?
We spent ~$200 on our chicken coop (bought locally). You can find chicken coops for less on Amazon, like this one. If you want to build one yourself out of wood, chickenwire, shingles, and hinges, you’ll probably end up around $100 depending on the size.
One consideration that should be made is the type of weather you receive. We receive a fair amount of snow and have sub-freezing temperatures most of the winter. Keeping your chickens sheltered from the wind, rain, snow and freezing cold is important.
I wasn’t confident in our chicken coop versus the wind, so I placed a cement block on the base to hold it in place. I’m glad I bought a chicken coop with shingles.
Total Chicken Investment: $235
What Do We Feed Our Backyard Chickens?
We spend $20-$30 a month on chicken feed and Grubblies for a fun snack. They don’t go through a crazy amount of food. The trick is hanging the food inside the shelter part of the coop to prevent them from kicking it over.
Our chickens are notorious for kicking over their water. Also, check your chicken food for excess powder. We’ve tried a few different brands because we found a lot of the feed was powder and they don’t like to eat it.
We also let the chickens free roam in the backyard most of the weekend. We accidentally left them out all night last weekend and they just put themselves to bed in their coop.
First thing in the morning they were milling around the firewood pile eating bugs. We also throw them some table scraps from time to time.
Total Chicken Investment: $235 initial + $30 per month
Other Purchases Backyard Chickens Require
Here is a list of other items we have had to purchase for our backyard chickens:
Total chicken Investment: $325 initial + $30 per month.
Total Chicken Investment for 2019
We have spent about $600 total in 2019 on our backyard chicken project. This includes everything I listed above as well as the monthly food budget.
The chickens have returned about $8 to us in the form of eggs and a priceless amount in terms of experience. Obviously, if we had more chickens, we would get more eggs, but I think three chickens are plenty.
Chickens are probably the quirkiest pet I’ve ever owned. Next year, I suspect they will be egg-laying machines and we will likely get more bang of our buck. The way I see it, they still owe us a couple of thousand eggs.
How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay?
Our chickens didn’t start laying eggs until September 2019. One of them didn’t lay a single egg (Karen).
I’m convinced Karen might be a male chicken. The other two chickens (Paula and Brenda) both started laying one egg per day.
Once the temperatures dropped and the day got shorter, they completely stopped laying eggs.
So far in 2019, I would estimate we got about 4 dozen eggs. These eggs are smaller than the jumbo eggs you buy in the store so naturally, we eat more of them.
Just for the 5 of us to have scrambled eggs on a weekend morning, we need about 10 eggs.
Have Our Chickens Saved Us Money on Eggs?
Not even close. A dozen eggs at the grocery store cost about $2.00 depending on where you live. Our 3 chickens have provided us about $8 in eggs during 2019.
Granted, they were little chicks for half of the year. It took them longer than we expected to start producing eggs. Though, eggs aren’t the only value backyard chickens provide.
Our Kids Love Their Chickens
We bought a chicken for each of our boys. Paula is Liam’s chicken, Brenda is Brody’s chicken and Karen is Ryker’s chicken. They love getting to let the chickens run around the yard and holding their respective chicken.
It’s our 7-year-old’s chore to ensure they have adequate food, water and to collect any eggs they may have laid. It’s been great to see him care for them and take on that responsibility.
Backyard Chicken FAQ’s
Frequently asked questions about raising backyard chickens.
Do the chickens tear up the yard?
They haven’t. We also don’t let them free range all day every day. I keep my grass fairly high to shade out the weeds and I found that they don’t care much for the tall grass. They gallop through it quickly to get from one side to the other. It’s quite comical.
Are the chickens loud?
Our chickens are not very loud. You can hear them when in the back yard. They like to cackle and cheer the other on when laying an egg. I’m serious, you know when one of them is making it happen. Our neighbors raise ducks and those are about 5x louder.
Do chickens need baths?
Chickens don’t need water baths. They take dust baths. It’s important to provide them with dust, ash or diatomaceous eath so they can clean themselves.
How are they around dogs?
This is a case by case basis. We have a 2-year old beagle named Henry. He loves the chickens so much, but he has never tried to hurt them. We introduced them by accident and were relieved to see him so friendly. He does chase them here and there, but I think he’s more afraid of them. Your mileage may vary.
How long are chicken eggs good for?
Eggs are so interesting. If you don’t wash them, you can store them for about 2-weeks on the counter or up to 3-months in the refrigerator. Washed eggs will still last around a month in the fridge, but won’t taste as fresh.
Why don’t you wash your eggs?
We do wash them, but only right before eating them. This is to avoid removing the “bloom.” It’s a protective coating that helps keep out bacteria. Bacteria can be pushed through the pores of the egg when you wash it.
Do backyard chickens survive the cold winter?
Yes, we have also provided our chickens with a heat lamp and a heated water tank to prevent the water from freezing. Chickens are fairly resilient and will likely survive without the heat lamp. We just like to pamper our ladies.
How do you avoid getting a rooster?
From what I understand, it’s very difficult to sex a chicken. Sexing a chicken can be a mysterious art form that takes years to perfect. The store we bought them from had a good reputation for not selling roosters, but this is an inherent risk.
Can you have chickens in a neighborhood?
It depends on your neighborhood. The homeowners associations around us don’t allow any chickens at all. Our city has a restriction on roosters, but we are allowed to have hens in our neighborhood.
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