Raising chickens for eggs is a new fad that has hit every corner of the country. Coops are readily available to buy, and there are dozens of different breeds of laying chickens at your local swap meet to choose from. Feeding and caring for them is a breeze, and they could be great fun to watch. But is it cheaper to buy eggs or raise chickens?
It is cheaper to buy eggs than it is to raise chickens for eggs. It costs between $150 to $300 per year to buy a dozen eggs per week from a grocery store and around $500 per year to raise chickens that will produce a dozen eggs per week.
The curious thing is that some people who raise chickens themselves are okay with paying the extra money. This is because there are hidden benefits to raising chickens that could trump the higher prices. So read on and learn all the ins and outs about which is cheaper raising chickens or buying eggs.
Raising chickens might not seem like a good idea, especially if you live in a residential neighborhood. However, today raising chickens in your backyard is just as accessible and easy as caring for other pets in your home. There are a few things that you should know before calling yourself a chicken farmer, though.
Before diving in, take the time to ensure that your yard is clean of debris that could harm the chickens. It should not be understated how tough life is for a chicken. Be prepared to handle any situation, especially death.
It should be a no-brainer that specific types of chickens are best for laying eggs. These types of chickens are hens, and their breed is another thing to look for when you want a bounty of eggs.
Leghorn chickens are some of the most well-known and hearty. However, do not underestimate the fragility of chicks or chickens.
One of the most significant costs of raising chickens is buying them. Once you have two, chickens are social animals and won’t produce without another chicken present; you might not need more but pricing them is always smart as they could be snatched by a neighborhood cat or catch a random disease.
The costs of laying for chickens are:
- Chicks – You can expect to pay about $3 to $5 for a baby chick. These must be watched constantly and are very susceptible to illness and predators. It will also be a while before they produce anything edible. Meaning upkeep is going to be huge for a set of baby chicks.
- Hens – A good egg-laying hen will cost $20 and $50 to acquire. These will go right to work and should have eggs within the first few days. Higher prices mean better breeds, and better breeds mean more eggs. Hens are the females, and pairsare essential.
- Fancy Birds – If you are in the market for the Plymouth Rock of hens, you can expect to pay upwards of $55 for them. The most sought-after hens will produce tons of eggs and are some of the most hearty birds in the species. Paying more for heartier birds is never a bad idea.
- Beyond – One of the hotbeds of gene modification is in the poultry world. Labs owned by chicken companies are pushing the envelope with DNA modifications that allow some laying hens to produce strong, hearty chicks as soon as they leave the egg. These ‘golden geese’ go for over $100 and are extremely rare.
Paying for the chickens is a recurring fee. You must have it planned into your budget buying or replacing chicks or chickens is part of the game.
It can add tons to cost, but there is an interest in protecting them when you have a good set of laying hens. Spending the money is worth it in the long run when you have delicious eggs on demand.
Here’s quick video showing some of the math one chicken owner did, with a lot more info below:
Possibly the biggest fee in raising chickens is the coop. They will need a place with several different perches and laying basins to accommodate their laying cycles and often eccentric personalities.
These coops can be rented or built by you; however, there’s a chance you can find one at your local metal building dealer or chain hardware store.
Building a chicken coop could be your best bet to save money. The prefabricated enclosures can cost several hundred dollars, while lumber and screws could be a fraction of that price.
Remember that being handy in situations around the home can go both ways. Know what you are doing before you bite off more than you can chew.
A few options for chicken coops are:
- OverEZ – The OverEZ large chicken coop is going to be on the high end of prices for a chicken coop. It has room for about 15 chickens and easy access to the laying basins and inside of the coop. The windows are fully functional and the siding is easy to clean and maintain.
- Ecolinear – One of the more common types of coops is the Ecoliner. Their 80-inch model has a protective metal cage around the inside that keeps the bad guys out while also aiding in cooling the coop. It has a roof that is fantastic against rain and a simple style that will fit almost any area.
- AthLike – Just like Goldylocks, we have gotten to the just-right size of the game. AthLike has the perfect sized, and moderately priced, chicken coop that will be perfect for your yard. It has an oversized fenced area with a ramp for easy chicken access.
- Paw Hut – One of the most utilitarian enclosures is made by Paw Hut. It is made from chain-link and steel tubing and takes up a large amount of space. This also makes for a nice over enclosure for those smaller chicken coops out there.
Coops are fun to shop for and even more fun to build yourself. There are a few things that the hens must have and you should do some research into your breed of chicken to find out exactly what they need to reach their peak egg production.
Be careful as buying a coop with all the bells and whistles will definitely cost more than buying eggs from the grocery store.
Great! Now that we have a coop and all the hens we need to fill it, how do we care for them? Getting some essential things, like bedding, is a common occurrence that you need to keep a sharp eye on.
Chickens are delicate when it comes to making eggs. They could be spooked or complacent about laying if the environment rapidly changes.
Some of the things you can expect to buy to maintain your chickens are:
- Feed – Gotta feed the chickens to make them lay eggs. Chicken feed is cheaper to keep them going, and layer feed will keep them ready to rumble. It is filled with vitamins and things they need to thrive, and you can expect to pay anywhere between $15 and $35 for a 50lb bag of feed.
- Supplements – Just like tiny athletes, your chickens are going to need supplements to their layer feed. These can be mixed in with the feed and will help the hens fight off any viruses or sickness they might encounter.
- Bedding – Something you might not have seen coming is how expensive it was could be to bed chickens. They prefer pine shavings, but a smart thing to do is use a bail of hay, around $5; it can be stretched out to last a couple of weeks.
- Protection – Birds are going to need more than just a few bits of chicken wire to protect them. Predators are abound in the neighborhood or on the farm. Spend extra cash on deterrents, like an air rifle, to keep pesky critters away from your prized hens.
Here’s a cool video showing how you can automate some of these maintenance items:
Taking care of your chickens will cost anywhere from $25 to $50 a month, depending on how many birds you have. These charges alone are enough per year to warrant going to the grocery store for eggs. Although some folks don’t mind the hard work, there is something to be said about convenience.
Though the costs of owning chickens for eggs are constant, owners say a few things are trade-offs. Unfortunately, these trade-offs are things that most people don’t think of when they zip over to the grocery store for eggs. These trade-offs are preferences, and though you may not fall under the category, some will.
A few things that chicken owners see as trade-offs for chicken costs are:
- Organic – A huge trend in health is to eat organic. The eggs that your chickens lay will be 100% organic and possibly free range. Organic means that there have been no steroids or modifications to the food before it is eaten.
- No Big Box Stores – Sounds weird to some folks but not having to go into the busy grocery store to get your eggs could be worth a lot. Growing your chickens is a fantastic way to stay out of the big box stores and take a nip out to the pen each morning to grab some fresh eggs.
- Freshness – Something else that people prefer is having eggs as fresh as possible. When you have chickens, there isn’t a more fresh way to get them. The hens will produce eggs every day, and there isn’t a fresher way to get them.
- Purpose – For older owners, it gives them a sense of purpose to nurture something that helps them save a dollar. Knowing that the chickens are there waiting for food and shelter keeps them going in lonely times.
These trade-offs might not seem like a big deal, but to some folks, they could be everything. Being self-sufficient and off-the-grid is a feeling that some people strive to achieve, and having their chickens is part of that experience.
Having eggs in the morning consistently is a fantastic way to get protein, like eggs, and lead to a healthier diet. With a more nutritious diet, you can expect a better quality of life and longevity. Of course, eggs are just a part of a healthy diet, but knowing their importance is always a good idea when talking about their value.
The cost of eggs from a few different places are:
- Walmart – Eggs at Walmart will cost about $4 per dozen. If you are going to buy them each week, you will spend about $200 a year on them. That’s around the price you pay for the maintenance of chickens and a coop.
- Costco – Going to Costco and buying in bulk is an excellent way to save money on eggs. Buying in bulk makes them come out to about $3.94 a dozen when bought in five dozen segments.
- Farmers Market – One of the best places to buy eggs on the cheap is at the farmers market. They often have free-range, organic chickens and come in at around $3.00 a dozen.
Once you see how easy and convenient buying eggs from the store is, you will not worry about feeding and maintaining laying hens. The choice is up to you, and there are even alternatives to buying eggs in the shell that could save money.
Taking care of and raising laying hens is a job that ends up being quite fulfilling. Of course, there are upfront fees and maintenance costs of caring for them more than buying them from the store. But some working for your food and knowing it is clean and healthy can be worth much more.
Buying eggs from the store is a much cheaper way to get protein into your diet and on your plate.
They are available at every grocery store, and even a few convenience stores have begun to carry them for their patrons. Check the prices to see if any sales could end up saving even more money.