Store Bought Free-Range Eggs = $3.50-$5.50 per Dozen
Free Range Eggs from Raising Your Own Backyard Chickens = $0.44 cents per Dozen
Before you raise your own urban chickens, If you are a normal human being, you will want to know if it will be worth the cost and time of raising backyard chickens for eggs versus just buying your eggs from the store.
I recently read an article from Forbes that claimed that raising backyard chickens was a bad idea, and I have to disagree.
Well the good news is, it is worth it financially, but it is honestly worth so much more than that.
About 3 years ago my wife and I decided to get our own backyard chickens. But before we jumped in, we wanted to be sure, (well I should say that my wife wanted to be sure), that we weren’t going to waste our money on a failed hobby.
As of today, we can gladly say that we have had two separate flocks of chickens within the past 3 years, with two different types of coops: a premade coop and a homemade coop.
The first attempt at raising our own urban chickens we built our own coop from scratch, and had 6 hens, a rooster, and 2 ducks!
We completely built our own coop from the ground up, but we ran into several problems along the way.
Now we have 4 hens in a hybrid pre made-homemade coop & run. Our ladies are all Rhode Island Reds, best known for reliable egg production, and they are producing 4 eggs a day on average!
This is our view on why raising your own backyard chickens is well worth the cost, the time, and the investment:
As with any pet or any farm livestock, raising urban chickens will take both time and money, but the return on your investment is far greater that which you put in.
This is often a highly debated topic between the urban farming community because the answer can be quite variable depending upon your particular method of raising your flock.
We have tried to include all of the commonly used methods of raising backyard poultry here to give you the most accurate truth of the true cost of a dozen farm fresh eggs from your own backyard.
The Initial Cost of Raising Backyard Chickens
The largest investment of both your time and your money will be in the very beginning of obtaining your flock. The good news is that you will “re-coop” (see what I did there?!) those costs over the next few months and will come out with a surplus in the years thereafter.
The coop is the first thing you need to decide on and purchase before bringing home your urban livestock or pet chickens. The coop is also going to be the largest expense that you will encounter in raising your own urban flock.
There are typically two types or methods to obtaining your chicken coop: Build Your Own (BYO) and the Pre-Made kind.
Whether you build your own or you buy a pre-made one, you can still spend between $50-$2500 for a chicken coop! That’s some serious cash! And some farmers are very serious about their chicken coops!
Typically, if you build your own it will cost you anywhere from free to a couple hundred dollars for the right materials. When we built our own chicken coop I scoured the local free listings on Craigslist and went and picked up as much free, usable, wood that I could find.
Our BYO coop ended up costing us around $50 because we had to buy the chicken wire and a few other things which we couldn’t find for free.
We ended up selling that coop to a profit and decided to try a pre-made coop for our next flock.
Pre-made chicken coops can run anywhere from $100 to easily over a couple grand. You can sometimes find a very nice used coop from someone on Craigslist or Facebook or you can shop your local Farm Supply store or Costco. Another method is purchasing one online from a Chicken Coop supplier. You can easily find and compare prices on pre-made coops on Amazon or eBay.
We decided upon a coop from Pawhut and found it for an amazing price on eBay! It ended up costing us $149.00 and we’ve seen the same exact one for $400+ on other websites.
Building your own chicken coop is by far less expensive but it also will take you the most time. It took me around two week, maybe a total of 18 hours to build our coop. Some of the down time was just waiting to find supplies. The pre-made coop came unassembled and took us around 4 hours to put together.
Check out everything you need to know about how to build a chicken coop from scratch here!
So, your total expense for the coop:
- Pre-made = $100 – $2500
- BYO = $0 – $300
- Pre-made = 4 hours
- BYO = 18 hours
The Poultry Supplies
The next purchase you must make to get prepared to raise urban chickens it the poultry supplies. Poultry supplies for backyard chickens typically consists of a poultry feeder, a poultry waterer, and maybe a roosting bar. That’s it.
Similar to the chicken coop, you can either build your own supplies, or you can buy from the store.
If you build your own it really only makes sense if you can find all of the supplies for free. You may have the necessary supplies at home or in your garage or you may be able to find them on Craigslist.
If you buy a feeder and waterer it will cost you around $10 each.
A roosting bar can be made from a strip of wood or even from an old broom handle so I wouldn’t recommend spending any money on that.
Find out how to build your own poultry supplies here!
So, your total expense for the poultry supplies:
- Store-bought Feeder = $10
- Store-bought Waterer= $10
- BYO Feeder & Waterer = $0
- Store-bought Feeder = 0
- Store-bought Waterer= 0
- BYO Feeder & Waterer = 30 minutes
Chicken Feed & Bedding
Chicken feed another one of the reasons why the cost of raising backyard chickens can be so variable. If you are a typical Urban Farmer you are probably into the healthy organic lifestyle and farm to table diet, so free range eggs are a main staple.
If you have your own backyard flock I would highly recommend allowing them to free range. This not only cuts down the expense for feed, (because they will be ranging freely for food in your backyard) but also it gives you the highest nutritional yield of eggs possible, with gorgeous orange yolks, for a delicious omelet and a healthy life.
Even if you do allow them to free range, since you most likely cannot allow them to be free outside all day (because you have neighbors and you live in a city) you will most likely still need to supplement with feed.
From your local farm supply store you can by pellets and crumbles for layers for relatively cheap.
They usually have a Non-GMO and a regular kind. We go for the non-GMO which costs us about $19 for a 50 lbs. bag. The regular kind costs about $15 for the same size, so the extra few dollars is highly worth it in the long run.
Since we allow our hens to free range, one 50 lbs. bag of pellets lasts about 6 months. This is because we have build a Chicken Run that extends our coop during the day when we are not home and allows our girls to range freely on grass and bugs.
When we get home we will let them out to roam the backyard until dark.
If you decide to not free range, than you will most likely need to budget for a couple extra bags of chicken feed a year.
So, your total expense for the chicken feed:
- Non-GMO Feed = $19
- Regular Pellet Feed= $15
- 100% Free Range Chickens = $0
- Poultry Bedding = $10
- 10 minutes a week total to fill the feeder
Once you have your coop, poultry supplies, and chicken feed, then it’s finally time to bring home your own flock!
Now you can obtain chickens from a various different sources which you can read about here: Where to get your backyard chickens.
You can also choose to raise your chickens from chicks, day old chicks, or you can purchase chickens as pullets which is right when they start to lay, about 8 months old.
You can find pullets for sale online. Typically craigslist is a good place to start.
We decided to purchase our chickens as pullets because, well frankly, we were really excited to get eggs! You can also raise them from day-old chicks but it will require several extra steps.
Read how to raise chickens from day old chicks here!
So, your total expense for your backyard chickens:
- Day-Old Chicks = $3
- Pullets = $10 – $25 depending on age and breed.
- Day-Old Chicks = 30 minutes to bring them home
- Pullets = It took us 2 hours total as we had to drive an hour away to pick them up
Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens
Whether you raise your backyard chickens as pets or you raise your poultry as livestock you can still reap all of the many benefits that come with owning chickens. Of the many benefits, mulch for your garden and farm fresh eggs are the greatest.
Many urban farmers choose to raise their backyard chickens as pets. Chickens as pets is absolutely OK and is quite an enjoyable addition to your family. My wife says that she will never let us kill and eat our chickens and has even given each of them names, which she affectionately refers to them by.
Organic Pest Control
“Our girls” are so much fun to watch as they free-range around our backyard scratching and pecking at everything. As they do this they are also aerating our grass and managing the pests in our yard organically which is a side benefit.
If you decide to raise your poultry as urban livestock than you too can reap the same benefits of an organic pest control and backyard maintenance. Even for pet chickens will come a day when our girls stop laying and about that time it is time to move out the non productive chickens and in with the new hens.
Whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you another great benefit is fresh, delicious free-range chicken for dinner!
Mulch and Compost
One of the greatest benefits of raising backyard chickens is the mulch that they produce for your compost. Chickens poop, A LOT! If you have ever taken a second to watch them as they walk around the probably poop at a minimum every 10 to 15 minutes.
The good thing about this is that chicken poop is extremely nutrient rich. It is very high in nitrogen and also has potassium and phosphorus too! If you have dogs, you will know this is true as your pups probably think the chicken poop doubles as a free treat!
Although the high nitrogen content is dangerous to your plants if used right away, once you properly compost your chicken waste it will be turned into the richest, highest quality compost that will be perfect for your urban garden.
The most well known benefit you will reap from your backyard flock is the delicious and farm fresh, free range eggs.
Most store bought eggs are typically two to three weeks old from first being laid. The bad thing about this is that as the egg sits it is actually losing nutrients.
Fun Fact: The way to tell if an egg is bad or not is to place it gently into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, than it is good to eat. If the egg floats, it means that it has went bad and should not be eaten!
Hens lay on average about 6 eggs a week. Typically they will lay from spring to fall; however, if you supplement longer days with a light in their coop than they can lay regularly throughout the winter as well.
Hens start laying at about 8 months and will lay around 2 to 4 years. We currently have four hens and are getting 2 dozen eggs a week!
How You Can Profit from Backyard Chickens
You can also profit from owning backyard chickens! Many urban farmers will sell, either the chickens themselves, or the eggs! You can sell the eggs to farmers who want to raise their own flock, or you can sell a dozen to a local family who wants fresh, healthy eggs!
Check out our article here on How to Profit from Backyard Chickens.
So how much does a dozen eggs cost when raising backyard chickens? The average cost is $0.44 cents per dozen! Compare that to the $3+ you spend at the grocery store!
According to our personal experience and research, the first year you raise your chickens will be a little bit higher because you inevitably have to buy a coop.
What we found:
Total First Year Cost of a Dozen Eggs
- If you Buy your Coop = $0.61/ dozen
- If you Build your Coop = $0.37/ dozen
- Approx 1 hours per week on average throughout the year
Total Cost Every Year Thereafter
- = $0.00/ dozen (You officially break even after the first year)
- With 6 chickens you will profit: 6 chickens = approx. 17 bags of mulch/year
- Approx 1 hours per week on average throughout the year
So, what is the ultimate cost of raising backyard chickens? = Priceless
If you know someone who is considering starting their own urban farm, then please share this post with them and invite them to join our Urban Farming Community!