How Much Do Chickens Cost To Keep? Is it Worth The Cost?

Article Summary

  • Buying chickens can vary in cost depending on age and type, with baby chicks costing $2-$5 and mature laying hens costing $20-$50.
  • The average monthly cost of keeping backyard chickens ranges from $8-$20 per bird, making it affordable for the benefits of fresh eggs
  • Additional expenses for chicken keeping include housing (coops and runs), bedding materials, supplements, veterinary care, and miscellaneous supplies.

Raising chickens can be a rewarding experience, providing fresh eggs and meat. However, there are costs associated with buying and caring for chickens. This article breaks down the expenses of getting started and maintaining a small backyard flock.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy Live Chickens?

The cost of purchasing chickens depends on the age and type of bird. Baby chicks cost $2-$5 each. Pullets (young hens) are $10-$25 per bird. Point-of-laying hens cost $15-30. Mature laying hens cost $20-$50 each. Fancy varieties and rare breeds can cost over $50 per bird. Roosters are usually less expensive around $5-$10 each.

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When buying, also factor supplies like a brooder setup for chicks. Plus any shipping costs if buying online and having them mailed to you. Overall, expect to spend $50-$150 to purchase a starter flock of 3-6 birds.

How Much Do Chickens Feed Cost?

Feed makes up the bulk of ongoing chicken care costs. Chickens need a proper diet to grow healthy and become productive. A standard layer feed costs $15-$22 for a 40-50 pound bag. In a backyard flock of just a few birds, one bag lasts 1-2 months. Feeding a flock costs $10-$15 per month per bird.

A Flock Eating Feeds
A Flock Eating Feeds

Chicks and pullets need around 0.5 pounds of starter feed daily, costing $0.20-$0.30 per bird. Mature hens eat 0.25-0.33 pounds of layer feed daily, costing $0.15-$0.25 per bird. Roosters eat slightly more at 0.5 pounds per day.

Overall, plan on each chicken costing about $5 per month to feed. Better quality or organic feeds cost more.

Chicken Feed Cost Formula

Use this simple formula to estimate monthly feed costs:

  • Number of chickens x pounds of daily feed needed per bird x cost per pound of feed รท pounds per bag = Monthly cost

For example:

  • 5 hens x 0.25 pounds per day x $0.40/pound รท 50 pounds per bag = $10 per month

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Buy feed in bulk to save costs. Store in a cool, dry area away from bugs and rodents.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Costs

Beyond feed, other expenses include:

  • Housing like a coop and run ($150-$600)
  • Bedding materials, like shredded paper or wood shavings ($10-$20 per month)
  • Supplements and treats ($5-$10 per month)
  • Veterinary care (average $50 per year per bird)
  • Miscellaneous supplies like feeders, nest boxes, and fencing ($50-$200 one-time)

Altogether, the average cost of keeping backyard chickens ranges from $8-$20 per bird monthly after initial setup costs. The return on investment comes from having a supply of fresh eggs and meat. For most owners, the enjoyment of raising chickens outweighs the costs.

Are chickens expensive to maintain?

Keeping backyard chickens can have moderate upfront costs for coops and supplies, but the ongoing costs are quite affordable. Feeding a small flock costs just a few dollars per week. The main expenses are feed, bedding, and occasionally replacing hens. Overall, costs are reasonable for the fresh eggs and pest control chickens provide.

How much is a chicken that lays eggs?

Baby chicks from egg-laying breeds typically cost $3-5 each from farm stores or local breeders. Mature hens who are actively laying can cost $15-25. Heritage breed chickens are more expensive at $25-50 per hen. Overall, chickens are an affordable investment for a constant supply of fresh eggs.

Do backyard chickens save you money?

Yes, raising a small flock of 3-5 chickens can save money on grocery bills. Each hen lays 1-2 eggs daily, so backyard chickens provide a steady supply of eggs at a lower cost than buying them. Feeding chickens costs about $1 per week per hen. Plus, you get natural pest control and fertilizer benefits from chickens.

Is it cheaper to have chickens or buy eggs?

It is cheaper to get eggs from your own flock of 3-5 hens than to buy eggs from the store. Homegrown eggs cost about $2-4 per dozen to produce when factoring in feed costs. Organic free-range eggs at the store can cost $4-6 per dozen. So, backyard chickens can be the more economical option in some cases.

How much does it cost to feed a chicken per day?

Chickens eat about 1/4 pound of feed per day, which costs roughly $0.25-0.50 depending on the feed. So each hen costs about $1-2 per week to feed. Organic feed is pricier at $0.75-1 per day. Supplementing with garden greens and food scraps reduces feed costs further. So feeding chickens is quite affordable.