This being a prime week for poultry appreciation, let’s take a look at the real costs and value of raising poultry on a vegetable farm
Here is what I spent raising 54 chickens for 2.5 months
Cost of 54 chicks plus shipping: $153.31
Chick feed: $124.12 (I already had the feeders and waterers)
Chicken tractor supplies: $113.98 (not including that some materials already on the farm were used at no cost)
= 431.41 or $7.99/chicken
Then if you add my time, guessing an average of 30min/day for feeding, moving the chickens, collecting some greens for them, fixing and improving the chicken tractor, as well as 20 hours building the chicken tractor … $8/hour 57.5 hours = $460
which makes it $16.5 per chicken.
So, $16.50 per chicken for 2.5 months. The roosters would have been ready to butcher in another month and a half or so, when they would weigh about 4 pounds. The feed until then and the time butchering and effort to sell would probably at least double the cost, to around $33/bird, or $8.25/lb
Which is a heck of a lot more than it costs in the grocery store, and a heck of lot more than most anyone wants to pay.
So let’s do a little cost/benefit analysis
High costs, no profit
Risk of predation and cost of housing for pastured chickens
Need for enough chickens to rotate they around fast enough to not let weeds to take over half the field before I can disc it.
Time moving the chickens, butchering, selling etc.
Added fertility to soil
Ability to rotate chickens over spent vegetable gardens
Chickens eat weeds, pests, and vegetables
They are fun to watch and visitors like them. They add personality to the farm.
All in all, I think I’m going to keep just enough chickens for my two small chicken tractors, probably about 8. They will produce enough eggs for me and for a few other people. No more of this chicken business stuff!