Whether you are just getting started raising chickens or if you have had your backyard flock for a while, you will want to know the answer to how much do chickens cost. Without knowing what your chicken expenses are, you won't be able to budget appropriately.
Although the exact amount can vary greatly based on size of flock and your flock management a general average for 5 adult chickens per year is $255. The first year will cost a bit more due to one time purchases such as a coop and run and can total around $825 for a flock of 5 chickens.
Of course, some of these costs can be cut by making some of your own supplies.
In order to accurately calculate how much your chickens cost, you will need to know both your fixed (one time) costs as well as your ongoing (monthly) costs. Of course, the exact amounts you will spend will vary based on your area, your set up and your flock management. However, we will discuss below some general averages to give you a good idea of where to start and also give you the calculations you need so that you can input your exact costs.
How Much Do Chickens Cost?
Below we will break down costs by several different cateogories. And, will provide much more detail on how these costs may fluctuate depending on your flock and your situation.
However, before the deep dive, lets look at an estimation for how much chickens cost assuming a flock of 5 common breed birds purchased as day olds.
|5 Day Old Common Breed Female Chicks||$20|
|Metal Feeder & Waterer||$50|
|Non-Organic Feed for one year||$135|
|TOTAL FOR INITIAL PURCHASE & FIRST YEAR|
TOTAL PER YEAR AFTER INITIAL PURCHASES
How Much Are Chickens to Buy?
The price to purchase your initial chickens will vary greatly dependent on what breed or breeds you decide to get. If you are getting more common chickens like Black Australorps, Wyandottes, Amberlinks, Sussex, or Rhode Island Reds you won't pay a high or premium price (with the exception of if you are getting a high quality show stock from a popular breeder. But, even in that instance, they will not be nearly as pricey as other fancy or less common breeds.)
If you are getting breeds that are fancy, used for pets or show or a little less common such as Marans, Silkies, Salmon Faverolles then you are going to be paying a mid-price range for your initial stock purchase of birds.
And, if you are getting a breed that is rare or highly sought after such as Ayam Cemani then you are going to be paying a high end, top dollar price even for unsexed day old chicks.
One additional thing to keep in mind in terms of breeds and pricing. Some breeds, such as Orpingtons, will have a wide range or price based on colors. For example, buff Orpingtons will fall in the low tier price range as they are a common color. However, more rare colors such as chocolate cuckoo or gold laced will fall in the mid to high price range.
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Age is also a large factor in how much you will pay for your initial chicken stock. You can expect to see ranges based first on what breed as mentioned above and then, generally, these age ranges will affect prices: hatching eggs, day olds (or otherwise young), 8 week to 4 months, adults.
Hatching eggs will generally be the lower of these price ranges. Again, depending on the breed of course, but you can be looking at anywhere from $1 per egg up to $10+ per egg for fancy or rare breeds.
Day olds tend to be slightly more expensive than hatching eggs. Low cost breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, you can usually purchase for just a few dollars $2-$4 per chick. Fancier breeds such as Silkies may be more in the $10-$15 range. And rare breeds or colors will be $15 and up. For example, young Ayam Cemani chicks can be $100 or more.
Hens or Roosters
Pullets (so, girls that aren't quite at point of lay yet) will be in the $10-20 range for general low cost breeds. Price, of course will increase with breed type and age. Point of Lay hen will tend to be more in the $20 - $30 range (again, more expensive breeds would be a higher price at this age and sex).
Roosters, in general, will be less than hens or pullets. For example a rooster of the same breed and age that a female would go for $15, the rooster may only be in the $5 range or less. Roosters have less of a demand, some people aren't even allowed to have them in their zoning areas, hence the cheaper costs.
How Much Are One Time Chicken Costs?
When you first start your flock, you will have several one time chicken costs. Of course, if you have your flock for a very long time you may have to make repairs or replacements to some of these items due to long term wear and tear. However, it won't be something that is a regular cost.
Depending on what age of birds you get, you may be able to cut some of these costs out. On average, if purchasing your coop and building a permanent run for around 5 birds, you can expect to spent about $550 in start up costs. Of course, more elaborate coops or larger flocks may cost more and making your own coop, and feeder could really decrease this price point as well.
Chicken coops can be super elaborate, premade structures that you purchase, or you can make your own with supplies that you already have. Therefore, the cost can really range from free or almost free way on up to several hundred dollars.
The price of your coop will also depend on how many chickens you need to house and therefore how large of a coop you need. Of course, the bigger the coop, the more you will spend.
If you are a good builder, or are handy then it might be worth trying your hand at building your own coop so that you can save some serious cash.
In general, if you are purchasing a premade coop for around 5 chickens, you can expect to spend in the $200-$300 range.
If you will be free ranging your flock at all times, then you won't need to worry about building a chicken run. However, most flocks will need a run for at least some times during the day.
Again, the cost of your run will depend on the size of your flock, if they will have free range access at other times and if it is moveable or a permanent, predator proofed chicken run structure.
We make small, moveable runs for our breeding pens of about 5 - 8 bantam chickens for around $20 - $30.
You can purchase a premade chicken run for a few hundred dollars (depending on the size you need). Or you can buy a coop with an attached run - this will usually increase the coop price by at least an extra hundred dollars.
You can also make a permanent chicken run with chicken wire and some t-posts and/or other wooden posts. The price will vary greatly depending on how much run space your chickens need. So, you will just take the price of the roll of chicken wire and multiply out by how many rolls you need to cover the feet you are enclosing. You can usually get 150 feet for around $80.
There are also a wide variety of chicken feeder options. You can make a DIY chicken feeder for relatively cheap (sometimes free to $5). You can purchase a plastic chicken feeder for about $10 or you can purchase a metal chicken feeder for around $20.
After raising literally hundreds of birds and trying out various feeder setups. We would highly recommend investing in a large metal chicken feeder. Yes, they are a bit more expensive right out of the gate, but not outrageously priced. And, quite frankly, they hold up A LOT longer than some of the other plastic options.
Chicken waterers, like feeders can be a DIY project for relatively cheap. Or, you have a choice of plastic or metal waterers.
Prices will be about the same, $10 - $20 for plastic and $20 - $30 for metal. Again, we would highly recommend metal as they last a lot longer.
One additional thing to think about when making your waterer purchase is your weather. If it gets cold enough to freeze waterers where you live you may want to also invest in a heated base to keep your chicken waters from freezing.
If you will be raising baby chicks then you will need brooder supplies such as an actual chicken brooder, heat lamp, pine shavings, chick feeder, chick waterer and thermometer. All of these items together you can generally get for $100 or less.
Incubating chicken eggs would not be the recommended thing to start with when starting your flock. First, the supplies can be a little costly especially if you are only using them once. And, second, learning how to incubate can take a little time.
However, if you are wanting to hatching your own eggs, you will need an incubator - they can range from $50 - over a thousand. So, make sure to assess your situation and pick the best egg incubator for your needs.
The only other supplies you will need is an egg candler and egg cartons/holders.
How Much Are Ongoing Chicken Costs
In addition to the above fixed or one time costs for your flock, you will also have ongoing chicken costs that you will have to front monthly in order to keep your chickens healthy. These include costs for feed, medical supplies and bedding materials.
On average, for a flock of 5 adult birds, you can expect about $22 per month or $245 per year.
If you are feeding adult, full grown chickens a non-organic feed, it will cost around $2.25 per month per bird. Organically fed will cost around $4.50 per month per bird.
Of course, your exact costs may vary based on the cost of feed in your area. Chickens eat about .25lbs per day. So you can take the actual cost of your bag of feed and plug that in to get an exact amount. Want a automatic calculator for that? Gotcha covered here with the Organized Chicken Keeper.
And there are several ways you can decrease your chicken feed costs so that you can spend less....or just get more chickens.
This will vary based on how fast you use your supplies up. It is good to have things like chicken electrolytes and vitamins, e vitamin, bluekote, vet wrap, and an antibiotic on hand at all times. Different chicken health issues will call for different medical supplies.
If you allot $5 per month, you are probably covered here. Just keeping in mind that some months you may buy some supplies and others none. Also, if you have any major things hit your flock, it may increase your costs here. We are basing that $5/month off of our actual medical expenses average for our flock from the last several years.
Unless you have a super large coop, then generally one bag of pine shavings or one bale of straw (whatever your preferred bedding material is) should keep you covered for a month. Generally you can get either for $5 - $8.
How to Decrease Costs & Make Money with Chickens
There are a multitude of ways that you can get your chickens to either cost a little less or make money on your homestead to offset their costs.
Second, you can DIY your supplies. One of the most expensive start up costs will be your coop and run. By making them on your own, or doing a non-standard coop like a hoop coop, you can really cut down on the cost drastically.
Third, you can make money with your chickens by selling their eating eggs or even breeding and selling your own chicks.
Is it cheaper to buy eggs or raise chickens?
It can be cheaper to buy eggs, unless you have worked to decrease your feed costs and have made sure to choose breeds which are heavy egg layers.
How much do chickens cost monthly?
This will depend on your flock management, but on average, a flock of 5 adult birds costs about $25 a month.
How many chickens do you need to make a profit?
Unfortunately, there is not a cut and dry answer for this. It will depend on what your are selling from your chickens and how much you are spending to keep them. Using these Profitable Homesteading Worksheets will allow you to plug your actual numbers in so you can get an exact answer.
Are chickens expensive to keep?
At just $2.25 per month per bird in feed and then minimal supply costs, no, they are not very expensive to keep.
How do you feed chickens for free?
Though it is not recommended to go completely free on their food (you should always offer some actual chicken feed to ensure balanced diet). You can really decrease your feed bill significantly by free ranging, fermenting feed and offering scraps from your kitchen and garden.
Do chicken farmers make money?
When managed properly, yes, chicken farmers can make money. It is important to understand your expenses and revenue and plan accordingly.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.