We've now had our family of chickens for 365 days and as Brian has been keeping stats on costs and egg production, I thought I'd share our cost benefit analysis on keeping backyard chickens. Here's the summary:
We originally bought six chickens and after the first season, we reduced (ate) that number to three, then bought ten chickens (three of which we eventually learned were roosters and who have now all been eaten) and then hatched and raised three chicks from eggs in our makeshift incubation experiment (two of which we strongly suspect are roosters).
Total number of eggs laid in 365 days: 1784
In the graph you can see a major drop in production when the original six chickens started molting and then an increase when we purchased more chickens and then used a light in the beginning of winter to boost laying.
The pen was made entirely of scavenged/found materials so with all other costs accounted for, the price of each egg is $.36 or $4.32 per dozen. The lowest cost was at the end of the first season at day 175 where each egg was at $.31 and a dozen was $3.70. For reference, the cost of comparable store bought free range eggs that we would normally buy is around $5-6 per dozen.
We've learned many, many things along the way including how to:
- build a coop
- generally keep chickens healthy and happy
- distinguish roosters from hens before the obvious signs of crowing and egg laying
- know if an egg is fertilized
- incubate and hatch eggs
- determine an egg's stage of development by candling
- raise chicks and gauge the approximate age of a chicken
- keep chickens from eating their eggs
- kill and process a chicken for eating
It's been quite the adventure in urban agriculture. Brian has loved learning all of the above and Riker adores the chickens and every day helps to feed them and collect the eggs. I love that he's able to have some exposure to where food comes from at such an early age.