Friday, December 24, 2010

The Cost of Raising Chickens (getting established)

I know a number of my followers are considering getting chickens for their yards.  I thought it would be interesting to detail the cost is of raising chickens.

Let me start by stating that it was never my intention to make money by having backyard chickens.  These are pets and have names, just like you'd have a pet cat or dog.  And you can't put a price on the entertainment value they provide.

House $775 - I ordered a fully assembled hen house.  I'm not handy, I don't own power tools and I have arthritis in my right hand.  Thus, building one was out of the question.  I spent $440 (no sales tax) on their house, $50 for the red roof and $285 to have it shipped, fully assembled, from upstate New York.  (

Run $1400 - I hired Coastal Construction & Lumber to come push our fence out 12' from its existing line and create the girl's run.  Again, due to lack of power tools and my arthritis, there was no way I was doing this.  These guys even ran a row of 4" by 4" down the middle of the run and secured heavy gauge wire fencing of the top of the entire run to protect the girls from hawks.

Miscellaneous $300-400 - This was for supplies from OSH, Lowes and PetSmart for misc. things such as heavy gauge wire which I buried around their run to prevent critters from digging in.  Three foot wide/tall fence panels which I used for their brooder and will move out to the garden this summer to prevent the girls from eating my veggies when they begin to free range.  Roofing panels to cover a portion of the run so they have a dry place to hang.  Pine shavings, sand and gravel, a heat lamp and different bulbs which I used to keep them at the right temperature when they were babies.  Etc.

Chickens $100 - No, I didn't spend all that on chickens.  I think they cost $2.50 each.  But when I bought them, I also bought a baby chick feeder and waterer as well as an adult chicken feeder and waterer and a 25 lb. back of organic chick starter.

That means I'm in for $2675 thus far.  Ouch!  That sounds like so much.  But if you have some skills and a good right hand, you can do so much of this yourself.  Certainly, you could spend way less on a hen house and a chicken run than I did.  You can also make your own feeders and waterers out of 5 gallon buckets.  Backyard Chickens ( is a wealth of ideas and information.

I'm also really going to promote going green this year.  Subscribe to your local Freecycle group and Craigs List and hit garage sales and Goodwill for supplies.  Borrow tools from friends.  Every little bit helps.

Moving forward is where I think I'll be able to break even.  I spend more than I care to admit on fertilizer and pest control.  (I'll detail that in a future posting.)  I'm thinking/hoping that the girls can provide both of those and save me from having to lug this stuff home in my car.  And that eggs will be the wonderful little bonus I get on the side.


  1. It's amazing how fast all the supplies and such add up. You are brave to total it...we prefer not knowing that each of the eggs we get probably cost us about $5! ha! Great post- very interesting.

  2. In addition to your entertainment value, be sure to throw in oodles of vicarious entertainment value that I'm getting out of them!

  3. I just found your blog. Our coop was made from recycled lumber and the hardware cost about 53 dollars. The chicks were from a friend, except a few that we bought, and we are on our second bag of feed since getting the chickens in May. I go to the local farmer's market, which are on Saturdays and Tuesdays and get them lots of "old" fresh greens, and they love the variety. We even dig for worms on our walks. Love your blog.