I saw this graphic pop up on Facebook this morning, and thought I’d share it here:
We get asked all the time if it is worth it for us to keep backyard chickens. Noodle and Giblet live the life of the organic egg producers as outlined in the graphic, but their cost per dozen is harder to calculate. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though!
Noodle and Giblet are Silver Laced Wyandottes. So, although we got Noodle and Giblet over a year ago, they have been laying for about 1 year now. They took a few weeks off to molt, and a few weeks (combined) to be broody. So let’s say we’ve been getting a dozen eggs per week for 40 weeks. (That’s 480 eggs!) According to the Wikipedia article I linked, that is “exceptional laying”.
Food, Supplements, and Treats:
We buy fancy pants organic feed at a cost of about $20 per bag. It’s a bit less but we’ll factor in the gas to go pick it up from our local pet store that brings it in for us. Each bag of feed lasts about 2 months. So, we’ve bought 6 bags at a total cost of $120. We also buy oyster shell, grit, and treats (scratch) at a total approximate cost of about $40 for 1 year. We feed them kitchen scraps and weeds and grass clippings but occasionally I’ve bought greens from the grocery store, and so we’ll say I’ve spent an additional $50 on green treats.
The Poulet Chalet:
The coop and outfitting the coop cost us about $300 in materials, but Ross built it so it cost nothing in labour. We could have also cheaped that out significantly but went a bit high end and bought high quality lumber and finishings. Not all chicken coops need cedar shake roofs, but we did want it to look nice. I estimate the coop will last us at least 5 years, so we will say the cost of the coop for one year is about $60. Hay, which we use as bedding, is about $20 a year.
Cost of Hens:
Noodle and Giblet themselves cost $60. You can buy hens for way less. I bought a fancy heritage breed from a tiny charity based producer, but I’ve seen pullets (what Noodle and Gibs were when we got them) for as low as $5 on Craiglist. But we’ll say Noodle and Giblet’s cost is $12 a year (combined) if we expect them to live 5 years.
So, total annual costs of backyard chickens are:
$60 (annual cost of coop)
$12 (annual cost of chickens)
$50 (green treats)
Cost per egg: divided by approximate # of eggs and it’s 63 cents per egg, or $7.55 per dozen.
Is It Worth It?
Now, I can’t calculate for things such as satisfaction with having them, or entertainment value, or delight in being able to eat eggs from your yard, but the truth is that Noodle and Gibs are pretty priceless and keeping hens has been fun, educational, and completely worth it. if you live in a community that allows backyard hens, I totally recommend it.