Its been a while since I did the math to see how much feed I buy, how many eggs I get, sell, use and trade, to see what my eggs really cost. I can guarantee that I am not breaking even, at least dollar wise.
Initially I got four pullets, to just put something in the barn. It seemed like a good way to start using the space. A stall in the barn became the chicken coop, with some chicken wire and PVC pipe. A couple purchases for a feeder, water dispenser, the first 50 pounds of feed, the four or five bucks for the hens, and we were behind - what? Two hundred bucks easy. Then we had to wait for the girls to mature and lay but once they did, we had four eggs a day for about a year. Then came the disappointment. Winter and its short days came and they quit laying. Not one egg for days sometimes. Its all part of the natural process, but after having Easter every day for a year, its a BIG let down!
I know we benefit in other ways from the hens. Parasite control in the barn and pastures. Compost turning. Grub control when we dig in the spring. Peace of mind - we know where the eggs came from, and how old they are. Entertainment - they can be so funny to watch. But how do you value that?
Today an article in the New York Times talked about some of the costs of raising hens for eggs and meat, especially since more people are doing it.
Jasmin Middlebos, 36, a librarian who lives with her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, and their three children in a rural area outside Spokane, Wash., began raising chickens last year. She now has 26 birds, which produce up to two dozen eggs a day. (In hot weather, production can drop by half, and in winter it can stop altogether.) In September, she began selling some of the eggs — she gets $2 to $3 a dozen — and started keeping track of her income and expenses.
Since then, Ms. Middlebos said, she has taken in $457 from egg sales and spent $428, mostly on feed. That left $29 in the Mason jar where she keeps her earnings, to spend the next time she buys feed.
But that accounting does not include the cost of buying the birds as chicks — $1.50 to $4 each, depending on the breed — or the $1,500 she spent converting the old shed in her yard to a henhouse.
Keeping Their Eggs in Their Backyard Nests (read more)