by Texas Homesteader ~
With the crazy egg prices these days many are becoming keenly interested in raising their own chickens.
If you’ve never raised them before you might not know what to expect. I’m sharing approximate costs and some money-saving tips too!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links to offer more information on that item. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Consider Costs When Raising Chickens
I love raising our chickens. But there are a few reasons raising your own hens could potentially result in the most expensive ‘free’ eggs you ever had!
There are ways to hold down the costs by making do with what you have for some of the items below. Items preceded with * will give you more details about that item to help you with decision making.
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Cost of Buying A Laying Hen
First you have to find laying hens, which can be difficult – especially right now. The prices of buying a chicken are through the roof right now!
You can buy chickens much less expensively if you buy chicks. But there are several caveats there too.
Buying Baby Chicks
You can save money buying your chickens if you buy baby chicks instead of full-grown hens.
Although the initial cost of buying chicks is pretty cheep (lol, see what I did there??!), there are many requirements when raising baby chicks:
Special enclosure – anything with high sides works.
Money-Saving Tip: We Raised Our Chicks in the safety of our utility room using a light layer of hay in the bottom of a large empty tub.
*Heat Lamp – baby chicks are fragile and must be kept properly warm. $12 – $25 and up currently.
*Chick crumble food specially formulated for baby chicks. $13 – $16 for 5-lb bag currently.
*Special waterer – small enough for a baby chick. $10 – $15 currently
*Baby chick feeder – special size for baby chicks. $7 – $20 currently
*Shavings/bedding – typically pine shavings that go on the bottom of your enclosure for droppings, so chickens don’t slip, etc. $20 – $35 currently
Money-Saving Tip: We used a light layer of soft hay in the bottom of a large empty tub.
Baby Chicks Mean MONTHS BEFORE EGGS!
Remember, most chicks won’t lay their very first egg until they’re 5-6 months old (or older!)
So you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re wanting eggs any time soon…
Finding The Right Chicken Coop
You’ll need a secure place for your hens to lay eggs and sleep in safety.
*Basic Coop – small very basic housing for 2-4 hens. $85 – $150 currently
*Larger Coop – housing 6-8 hens. $220 – $550 currently
Build your own – factor in the cost of building supplies
What Is Predator-Proof Fencing For A Chicken Yard?
You don’t want to confine your chickens to a tiny coop all their lives. Healthy chickens need a safe place to scratch in the dirt, hunt for bugs, enjoy the sun, roam, etc.
So you’ll want to make sure you have predator-proof fencing. The price for this and extent of protection will depend upon your area predator pressures.
Based on our predator pressure this is what we’ve done for our chicken yard:
The most secure chicken yard to protect against the greatest number of predators is:
Completely surrounded by tight welded-wire fencing,
Fence mounted on deep posts,
Fencing or cover over the top for flying or climbing predators,
1-ft of the wire fencing buried underground for digging predators,
You’ll need to decide what level of protection works best for you for the money you have to spend. Here are some costs:
*Chicken Wire – Good for keeping chickens confined, but NOT good for keeping predators out!
*Welded Wire Fencing – This is what we use. Opt for tallest fencing available with the tightest pattern available for the most protection – currently $130 for 50 ft of 6-ft 1×2 fencing.
Other – If you are trying to keep out climbing or flying predators, you’ll want a top on your chicken yard. Wire works best but some use other covers depending upon the size of their chicken yard.
Chicken Supplies – Feeders, Water Fount, Etc.
Then there are some basic supplies you’ll need for you chickens such as:
*Chicken Feeder – Most run between $15-$20.
Money-Saving Tip: We made this Low-Waste Chicken Feeder from PVC pipe and it works well for very little money for us.
We also made a smaller Chicken Feeder Using A Repurposed Coffee Can for inside the coop, chickens that are separated, etc. Repurposing is helpful in reducing costs!
*Water Fount – These run about $15-$35 and more, depending on what you want. We prefer the metal ones for longevity.
*Oyster Shell Feeder, etc. – We repurposed a small pet cage feeder that attaches to the inside wires of our chicken coop for their free-choice calcium supplement.
Chicken Feed & Supplements:
This requirement will vary depending on what you want and your chicken’s needs. But prices are up this year (up about twice or more the cost last year)
*Baby Chick Crumbles – Specially formulated for baby chicks – $13 – $16 for 5-lb bag currently.
*Layer Pellets – Nutrition for hens old enough to be laying eggs – $15 for an 8-lb bag currently.
*Organic Chicken Feed – More expensive, but organic – $46 or more for a 25-lb bag currently.
*Oyster Shell – Provides calcium necessary for strong eggshells – $7 for a 5-lb bag currently.
Money-Saving Tip: I save, dry and powder eggshells and offer to chickens free-choice for their calcium requirement.
Prices vary but it’s good to have these things on hand so they’re there when you need them.
Chicken Loss To Illness Or Predators
Even when you’ve done everything right, yes – it will probably happen. You’ll obtain those expensive hens and tuck them into your chicken yard and still lose some for one reason or the other.
There’s chicken illness, sometimes just from the stress of new surroundings, death from predators such as coyotes, domestic dogs & cats, owls, hawks, raccoons, skunks, possums, foxes, bobcats, etc. (remember, some of these predators climb!)
This possum climbed the fence & tried to break into our chicken coop at night. (photo using night vision from our *Arlo Wireless Remote Security System)
Can You Raise Chickens Even With A Full Time Job?
A reader posed this question:
“Can you have egg chickens in my backyard and have a full time job? How difficult or realistic is this? Can you take a vacation and own them? Can you write an article about this?”
My answer is: Yes, not impossible, yes, and YES!
Short answer – yes you can raise chickens even with a full-time job, depending upon your circumstances (ie: No HOA restrictions, no loud rooster or overcrowding causing noise or odor for neighbors, etc)
The most important things are that you provide them with predator-proof fencing, protection from the elements, and healthy food, fresh water and calcium.
The start-up costs are steep, but it can be done.
When you’re away you can have a neighbor check on your chickens and lock them safely inside the coop at night.
Or you can do like we did and get an Automatic Chicken Door. (careful, there are many out there that are cheap and worth exactly what you (didn’t) pay for them. Make sure it’s a reliable door.
We use Run-Chicken Automatic Coop door. You can see our pros/cons review Of The Run-Chicken Automatic Coop Door Here.
So yes, it can be done. Whether it’s worth the cost is subjective and up to each individual’s interpretation.
Raising chickens is fun for sure. Just make sure you’re prepared for the cost!
- How To Teach Free-Range Chickens To Come HOME
- Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators: Automatic Coop Door
- Breaking The Broody Hen
- What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?
- MYO Low-Waste Chicken Feeder
- Repurposed Coffee Can Chicken Feeder
- Keeping Wild Birds Away From Your Chicken Feeder
- Nutritional Difference Of Free-Range Eggs
- How To Protect Seedlings From Free-Range Hens
- Keeping Our Chickens Mite Free
- How To Get Free Chicken Food
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