Raising chickens can be incredibly rewarding. Chickens are fairly easy to take care of, and many breeds are friendly, which makes them great pets.
Chickens are a fantastic source of fertilizer, and they also produce fresh eggs. If you’re interested in raising chickens, but you have questions about the cost of feed and other expenses, you’ll find the answers you need below.
The Cost of Feed
What you’ll spend on the feed will vary based on the chickens you’re feeding and the type of feed that you choose. Heavy breeds, like Rhode Island Reds and Holland Blues, consume more feed than lighter breeds.
On average, you’ll be spending somewhere between $12 to $30 on a 50-pound bag of poultry feed.
You may be able to reduce the cost of feed by offering your chickens table scraps. Foods like cooked meat, bread, fruits, and vegetables are mostly safe for chickens to eat.
However, raw meat, avocado skins, and processed foods can be dangerous for chickens.
How Much Should You Feed Your Chickens?
As mentioned above, the amount of feed your chicken needs will vary based on the type of chicken you’re raising. Larger chickens need to consume more feed than smaller ones.
With that said, you can expect to be feeding your chickens somewhere between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of food daily.
There are a few different ways you can feed your fowl. Free feeding with a chicken feeder is a popular option, but you can also put out food for your chickens each day.
You’ll want to monitor your chickens closely and increase the amount of feed you give them if your chickens appear to be underweight.
The Benefits of Organic Feed
Organic feed is significantly more expensive than standard chicken feed. Organic feed generally costs around $30 a bag or more.
These costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re raising heavy breeds.
With that said, organic feed does offer a number of benefits. Strict rules must be followed when organic feed is being produced.
Because of this, chickens are less likely to develop health issues related to their feed. You’ll need to weigh your options and decide if an organic feed is worth the cost.
Should You Give Your Chickens Supplements?
You can raise healthy chickens without offering them any sort of supplement. However, supplements can be an excellent way to enrich a chicken’s diet.
Nesting herbs are a popular option, as are kelp supplements. Some supplements are designed to boost egg production, while others encourage feather growth.
Many supplements can also keep a chicken’s immune system healthy, which can help to protect them against some of the common diseases that impact chickens, such as mycoplasmosis and botulism.
What Other Costs Will You Need to Cover?
In addition to the cost of feed, there are many other expenses you’ll need to cover in order to raise chickens. Before you purchase chickens, you’ll want to look at local laws.
You may have to apply for a permit in order to raise chickens, which means you may have to pay an application and renewal fee.
In Minneapolis, for example, the application fee for a permit is between $30 and $80 per year. You will need to pay the same fee when the permit is renewed.
You’ll also have to pay for your chickens. While you can purchase chicks for as little as $5, you’ll be spending more if you purchase adult chickens.
What you’ll spend will vary based on the type of chicken that you purchase.
A basic barnyard chicken can be very affordable, but there are other breeds that cost much more. For example, a Rhode Island Red could cost upwards of $100.
You’ll need to purchase other types of supplies as well. Your chickens will need a coop as well as bedding, which will have to be changed out on a monthly basis.
You’ll need to purchase feeders, waterers, and other types of supplies as well. You’ll also want to be prepared to cover veterinary costs if necessary.
Are Free Range Chickens More Affordable?
Chickens are capable of foraging for their own food. If your chickens are able to roam freely outdoors during the day, they’ll eat bugs, grass, weeds, and seeds, which means they’ll wind up consuming less feed overall.
However, you’ll need to make sure you’re providing your chickens with a safe environment. Your yard will need to have a secure fence, which will help to keep your fowl safe from predators.
You’ll also want to make sure you provide cover for your chickens, such as bushes or trees. That way, your chickens will be able to hide if they do spot a threat.
Can Raising Chickens Save You Money?
When you own egg-laying chickens, you can eat the eggs they produce. Unfortunately, this might not be enough to help you to save on your grocery bills, especially when you take the other costs of chicken ownership into account.
Experts have found that, on average, you’ll be spending $3 per dozen non-organic eggs and $6 per dozen for organic eggs. Grocery store eggs are typically available for less than that.
Furthermore, egg production for hens decreases as they age.
How Many Eggs Will Chickens Lay a Day?
A chicken will never lay more than one egg a day, even if the chicken is taking supplements. It takes hens between 24 and 26 hours to produce an egg.
Because of this, there may be days when a chicken does not produce any eggs at all.
As mentioned above, hens decrease their egg production as they grow older. Many hens no longer produce eggs at all once they reach five years of age.
This is something you’ll need to keep in mind when raising chickens.
How Long Does It Take Chickens to Start Laying Eggs?
If you’re raising chicks, you may be wondering how long it will be before your chickens begin to lay eggs.
Chickens normally start to lay eggs at around 18 weeks. It’s typical for a backyard chicken to lay around 250 eggs in its first year.
Chickens will produce more eggs if they are well-cared for and eat a diet that provides them with all the food that they need. Chickens will take a break from egg-laying when they are molting, which is something that usually occurs in the fall.
Where Can You Purchase a Chicken?
If you’re looking to buy chickens, you may want to start your search at local farm supply stores. It’s very common for these stores to carry egg-laying chickens.
Some of the other options available to you include hatcheries and local breeders.
If you order a chicken from a hatchery, you’ll want to look closely at the hatchery’s location. While chicks are typically shipped overnight, you’ll want to make sure your chicks will arrive safely.
The closer the hatchery is to you, the better.
What Are the Best Chicken Breeds to Raise?
If you’re new to raising chickens, you’ll want to look for a breed that can thrive in a backyard. You’ll also want to look at breeds that are easy to care for.
Some of the best egg-laying breeds include:
- Rhode Island Reds
- Plymouth Rocks
- Easter Eggers
- Hybrid Breeds
It’s smart to research breeds so that you’ll have a better picture of the options available to you.
Find out more about the character of the breed so that you have a strong understanding of what it would be like to raise that type of chicken. Focus on finding a type of chicken that will be a great fit for you.
As you can see, the cost to feed chickens can vary greatly, and there are many other things you have to consider besides just feeding them. If you plan correctly and have the right system in place, having chickens can be rewarding both from a pet perspective and a financial perspective.