How far are you willing to go to cut your grocery bill and still provide your family with high quality foods? Some people eat seasonal, some people eat less, and others use coupons or start gardens. There is now a growing trend to start raising chickens in your backyard. I have heard of this before, many local food or sustainable bloggers talk about their own adventures into raising chickens. But this week Mint.com took a look at the trend and the economics behind it.
According to the post there are 44,000 subscribers to Backyard Poultry Magazine and 15,000 members of BackYardChickens.com. So, there is a decent chunk of urbanites interested in this practice. Morgan Benzian is the author of the post and includes the costs associated with raising chickens. They are as follows:
- Baby chicks: $1 each.
- Full-grown, egg-laying hens: $10 each.
- Cost of building a basic chicken coop and purchasing a simple waterer and feeder: $100-$250
- Cost of buying an uber-chic pre-fab coop: $400
- Cost of buying a fancy schmancy coop that might land you a spot in a national home and garden magazine: $4,000
- Cost of chicken feed: $25.00
- Cost of organic chicken feed so you can brag about your homegrown organic eggs: $40
- Cost of making your own chicken feed from all local organic produce so you can brag about your homegrown organic eggs and copious amounts of time on your hands: $80
- Egg production from two hens: 1 doz/week, or 624/year appx.
- Cost of one dozen supermarket eggs: $3.00
- Cost of one dozen “organic and free-range” eggs: $5.00
And here is some basic math on your savings by raising your own hens.
- 12 eggs per week: 624 eggs per year
- One dozen store-bought, non-organic eggs: $0.25/egg
- Cost of basic chicken coop: $200
- Cost of chicken feed: $175/year
- Number of eggs to pay for coop and feed prices: $375 / $0.25 = 1,500
- Time required to recoup costs: 1500 / 624 = roughly 2.5 years.
There are other aspects that need to be considered, like what to do with the hens when they stop laying eggs and the costs associated with that. As well as the potential benefits of organic eggs and eggs that were not raised in factory farms. Plus it could be a good lesson for the whole family. I don’t have children, but I am guessing learning about farming and responsibility associated with raising hens and the reward of getting eggs has some very valuable lessons for children.
So where do you fall? What are you willing to do to get the most bang for your buck? Personally, I have a basal plant and I would love to have a garden, but I live in the city and plants cannot be stored on my roof top deck. Plus I don’t have a balcony. I am considering moving to somewhere that would enable me to grow more food; however I do not think I am ready for hens — maybe someday though. For now I will stick to my plants and farmers’ markets- plus all of the delicious vegetables my co-workers have been sending me home with all summer. I am jealous of their gardens it seems so rewarding.