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You’ll want to be extra vigilant with this. As a family of foodies, we really appreciate good food. You can even let your chickens free-range in the compost pile! Obviously man can not survive on chicken alone, but if you have your freezers stocked with home-raised meat, and your pantry with food you preserved from your garden, your grocery store trips can be fewer and farther in between. However, this is very rare and most chickens will not gorge themselves when given the opportunity. We publish weekly guides and articles written by experienced chicken enthusiasts! While you will still want to supplement with regular feed every now and then, free-ranging can help fill in a lot of the gaps in their diet and will reduce their reliance on the feed you put out. I guess it’s one of those “if you don’t use it you lose it” kinds of skills. In fact, there are some expenses you will need to take into account. The reason we do most of what we do on this homestead is for the food! This is a great way to offset some of your expenses, but it’s not something you should plan on doing during the first year you raise chickens. You can easily save money on chicken housing by following a free online building plan or by using repurposed or recycled materials. Write us at info(at)knowyourchickens.com with any questions or concerns! The Cost of Raising Cornish Meat Chickens As you may know, we decided to raise two batches of meat chickens this year in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed on butchering day. You can also sell meat. Plus, it’s good for their health, so you may avoid expensive medical costs later on. There’s a line, even for me, and that’s chicken toenails and feet skin. They eat A LOT. The next factor that you need to consider is how much it is going to cost to feed your chickens. In our first year of raising meat birds (2017), we spent the most and earned the least due to startup costs (mostly for building the chicken tractor). Many people even grow their own soldier fly larvae to help feed their chickens! If you buy a premade chicken coop, expect to spend anywhere between $200 and $2000. We knew what our chickens were eating. Selling live chickens isn’t the only way you can make money! You will also need to pay for occasional treats, if you choose to feed these, like black soldier fly larvae or scratch grain. Over a 5-year span, it’s safe to figure on a coop being about 30%-50% of your total costs. One of the most pleasant surprises about these chickens is just how big they are. You can either build your own chicken coop or you can purchase one from the store. When chickens are raised properly, they don’t require much in the way of medical care. Please seek advice from a certified veterinarian in a case of emergency. In our second year of raising meat birds (2018), we had a huge setback which sent hundreds of dollars down the drain. It’s not difficult to find inexpensive chicken feeders and waterers, but you get what you pay for – the quality might not be as high, or will the capacity. We also hope to grow our homestead animal-wise. To figure out how much you should charge for your eggs, you should keep track of your expense and then determine how much you would like to profit from your work. You’ll make more money by selling top cuts, like chicken breasts (versus thighs and drumsticks) and by raising organic meat. You will want to price these carefully, basing your numbers on the type of eggs you are raising and where you live. Not only are chickens themselves relatively inexpensive, but they offer a return on investment – after all, they produce a valuable item for you each and every day (or most days, depending on the type of chicken). If you need some guidance on how to prepare chicken feet for broth, check out these instructions over at The Elliott Homestead. I know that some people supplement the feed they give to their meat birds with things like milk from their dairy cow or goats, so there are ways you can cut down the cost a bit. On average, it will cost you between ten and fifteen cents per chicken per day. Ideally, this is an item that you won’t have to include in your chicken budget. You can catch bugs for your birds (this is a great way to get pests out of your garden, too!) If you want organic feed, you’re going to be paying much more money – often, more than fifty or sixty cents per chicken. We knew that going in. What Are the Best Animals to Keep With Chickens? You can also sell your eggs. We’ve chosen to add things slowly so as to not get burnt out. Oyster shells are normally sold in large, fifty-pound bags (although you can buy it in smaller increments, too) and it costs around twenty-five cents per pound. The Maran is a tough, disease-resistant bird that does well in the cold and is known for being quiet and easygoing. Delaware chickens are some of the best egg-producing birds.