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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
One year of Chickens - production and financial report (belated) 
9th-Mar-2015 11:09 am
Summer
This entry should have been written on 10/15/2014, but for some reason I never finished it. I grabbed it out of draft during a phone call, and so hopefully this isn't too disjointed.

Now that spring is coming, and chickens are in the plan, here is my self-promised report on chicken egg production and costs.

One Year of Chickens: Report

On 10/14/2013, I purchased two Leghorn and one "Red Star" (hybrid red sex linked) hens which were reputed to be just maturing and less than one year old. I don't know much about judging the age of chickens, so had to take the seller at her word. (I had no reason to doubt her.) The relative youth of the chickens was proven when the second leghorn only started to lay about a month after I got her, and only got up to full production in January (see chart below).

I purchased a 40-lb bag of chicken feed every month and a half, at $13 per bag. I purchased a bale of straw every two months (for bedding), at $8 per bale. I purchased one bag of oyster crumbles, of which I've used only 1/3 of the bag, for $24. So, all totaled, I spent about $176 (plus tax), give or take how much hay we want to count as "theirs" for bedding and scratch materials. The three chickens cost $75, which is rather expensive, but I wanted reliably healthy and young chickens for my first attempt. So let's call the investment of chickens and feed to be $225 in hand-waving numbers.

We had the chickens for 355 days, or 50.7 weeks. In that time, we received 460 good eggs, plus a handful of shell-less eggs. Over the entire period, we got an average of 9 eggs a week. At their peak production, we were getting 20 eggs a week.

I kept a chart of daily production by the chickens, separated by egg color and quality (shell-less eggs got their own line). With practice, I could tell the two white egg producers apart, but did not consider it worth the effort to train everyone else in that judgment, so simply counted white eggs as one production number.

Weekly egg production graph (click on the image for a larger version):
Chicken Report

460 eggs is 38 and 1/3 dozen. A dozen eggs at the farmer's market costs about $4. So if we are considering our eggs to be of the same quality, we can assign $153 dollars of offset egg costs. It's worth noting that we didn't consume 9 eggs a week (much less 20!), so ended up giving away about a quarter of the harvest to friends.

As far as net income, $225 in direct expenditure gained us $153 in eggs. Rounded, that's about a $75 loss over one year. (This does not count the cost of the coop or of our time in taking care of the chickens every day.)

Was it worth it? Despite the reported financial loss, I think it was worth it for the "nifty cool" feelings about it. It was fun to watch the chickens scratch and fluff in the yard, and it made me feel good to watch them eating bugs and worms in the pastures and garden. I don't know if we had any major reduction in pests, so can't give a quantitative report about them. We found a few ticks on the dog, but not the volume that I expected. I didn't find too many ticks on the goats, either.

Would I do it again? Yes. I'm actively plotting a re-chickening of the yard. I'm glad that we didn't have chickens this winter, because digging out the coop from the snow was no fun, but I'm looking forward to having more chickens soon. I'm considering having just two chickens this time, since we didn't consume all of the eggs from three hens last time. We shall see.
Comments 
9th-Mar-2015 09:11 pm (UTC)
I was wondering how it stacked up financially. Cool update
9th-Mar-2015 11:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the compliment! I should follow this post with "how to make chickens cost less" because there are a couple of ways to do so that are not too much effort.
9th-Mar-2015 09:49 pm (UTC)
Very neat graph!

It occurs to me, I've never thought about it, but--do you milk your goats?
9th-Mar-2015 11:34 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about you when I posted it. ::grin:: Glad you liked it.

We only milk the goats when there is a problem. For example, when Sashimi refused to nurse Scout and Houston and when Mona refused to nurse Madeline and Clover, we milked the goats and fed the milk to the babies for the first few days to be sure the kids got the colostrum. When Summer got mastitis I had to milk and then medicate her for a week. But generally speaking, no, we don't milk the goats for human consumption. They don't produce much, and we would have to shave their udders regularly to keep the milk clean.

Edited at 2015-03-09 11:36 pm (UTC)
10th-Mar-2015 01:28 am (UTC)
$75 spent on a hobby over a year is not bad at all!
10th-Mar-2015 05:19 am (UTC)
Darn tootin'.
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