Top 3 Factors that Impact the Cost of Raising Backyard Chickens
by Dakota Storage Buildings, on March 08, 2023
If you are considering raising chickens, you are probably weary of the cost. While initial purchases will add up, the regular maintenance and upkeep are relatively inexpensive. The price of owning chickens depends on numerous factors but it is guaranteed to be a fun and exciting experience. We want to break it down for you so you can fully understand the cost of raising backyard chickens.
Getting Chickens onto Your Homestead
Before raising chickens, you must purchase them. While there are many options, we recommend buying day-old chicks. This is the cheapest option but does require extra work. If your time to care for chicks is limited, consider purchasing older hens that can move into the coop straightaway. If you do decide on chicks, you will get the unique experience of raising and bonding with your flock from the beginning. Chicks need to stay in a brooder for the first six weeks before they can step into their coop. The brooder should be large enough for each chick to have one square foot of space. The brooder does not need to be anything special since it is a temporary solution. Old tubs will work great alongside a heat lamp to keep them warm.
3 Cost Factors to Raising Backyard Chickens
There can be a lot of unknowns when you first consider raising chickens. One of the most important questions is how much your ideal flock would cost. While there are various financial factors, the number of birds you want, local climate, and coop preferences play a big role.
1. The Size of Your Flock
The most significant factor affecting the overall cost of raising backyard chickens is the size of your flock. Chickens are relatively inexpensive. In fact, you can find sexed chickens can be as little as $3.00 a bird. Ensuring that your chicks are hens is crucial. Otherwise, you may end up with one too many roosters. However, there are additional costs surrounding the size of your flock.
While chickens are self-sufficient and can forge their own food, they will not get the proper nutrients without feed. With multiple kinds of feed available, the cost can fluctuate. A 50-pound bag of feed will range from as little as $10 to $35. Typically, an adult hen will eat a fourth of a pound of feed each day. With this standard measurement, if you have a flock of six hens, a 50-pound bag of feed will last you for 33 days.
Of course, there are other costs associated with caring for your flock. Having a feeder and waterer is important to keep the coop clean and have a designated feeding place for your hens. Feeders and waterers can be around $60 each. This is an initial upfront cost and should not need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Bedding is another cost that you must consider. Keeping your flock comfortable is essential. Each year, you can plan on spending $20 for bedding.
If you live in the north, you may need to consider investing in a heating source. While chickens can survive in cold temperatures, when it drops to extreme cold, you may want to consider adding extra heat. Since they will not be needed extremely often, heating sources should last a few years before needing to be replaced. A heat lamp, heated mats, or headed roost are excellent options. Setting aside $100 for any heat supplies is a good rule of thumb. Then you will have some cushion to purchase the best option for your flock.
However, if you live in the south and experience extreme heat, you may need to take extra steps to ensure they remain properly hydrated. Extra waterers may be needed during the peak of summer. This will ensure that every hen has access to water when they need it. Another option is to add ice cubes to their water each time you go to refill it. This is a budget-friendly way to keep your flock hydrated and energized throughout the day.
3. Coop Choice
Chicken coops are important investments because they will keep your flock safe and comfortable. With multiple factors to consider and style options, it is important to choose one that will meet the specific needs of your flock. The style of your coop should be the first thing you decide. Both enclosed and free-range chicken coops have their unique benefits. Enclosed coops have their runs built into the shelter. Fencing in an area confines the run to provide an extra layer of safety. Though there is limited space, your birds can still run, forage, and soak in the sun. Meanwhile, free-range coops do not confine your flock. Instead, they will be able to roam freely outside whenever they are not in the coop and come and go as they please. With a vast area to explore, these chickens are well-exercised.
Once you choose the style, you need to ensure that you pick the best size for your flock. Generally, one medium-sized chicken needs 3 square feet inside the coop and 8 to 10 outside. So, if you have a flock of six chickens, they will need 18 square feet inside the coop and 60 square feet outside. When you choose a free-range coop, the outside size does not necessarily matter. They will be able to roam your backyard freely. However, enclosed coops must make sure they provide enough space in the run for the chickens to move and stretch their wings.
Inside the coop, you will need specific features like nesting boxes, a roost, and proper ventilation. Purchasing a chicken coop with these features will save you the hassle of researching and installing the best features and money in the long run. Chicken coops can be an investment, but purchasing one that is made of high-quality, durable materials will save you money on repairs and maintenance. In the end, a chicken coop keeps your flock safe and secure.
Minimize Cost Without Skipping the Details
There are numerous ways you can cut the costs of raising chickens. When you increase free range time, they can forge their food, limiting the feed they eat daily. Chickens are not picky and can make a meal from your kitchen scraps. You can drastically cut monthly costs by reducing your spending on feed. Additionally, different breeds of chickens cost varying amounts. When you start and want a flock for eggs, you do not need to purchase a fancy breed. Do not spend a large sum on a special breed. Instead, choose an affordable breed like Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock, or Buff Orpington.
A Guide for Your Backyard Chickens
Initially, the start-up costs of raising chickens may seem high, but those tools should last for years. Routine maintenance will not be nearly as expensive. For many, the cost of raising backyard chickens is extremely worth it. It can be a joyful and exciting experience. The help you start out, we have created a guide that walks you through raising chickens. Eliminate the guesswork and be prepared for your flock! Download The Beginners Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens today!