Lately I’ve been exploring the costs associated with my various hobbies. I thought some of you might be interested to see what the average cost per egg is for our backyard chickens.
First off, the costs detailed in my quick analysis are specific to my flock and many are based on estimates. Everybody will have different expenses and will either do things a bit more simply or a bit fancier. One of the biggest expenses for my flock of backyard chickens is their housing. I built the coop from a plan that I sketched out after looking at several different examples online. My coop cost $230 in supplies and took about a week’s worth of spare time to complete. My coop was originally designed as a ‘chicken tractor’ meaning it could be moved around the yard to different positions.
The feeders and water containers for the birds have changed over the years. I have gone through a pair of standard feeders ($10 each x 2 = $20), a watering device that didn’t work for me ($15) and the current setup I use of a hanging feeder ($20) and hanging water bucket that I made ($10). My favorite chicken device was a birthday gift so I won’t count it toward my cost average. I have an automatic coop door opener / closer. It is the best! My opener is a VSB Automatic Door Opener. My unit cost $80 but I see they have now doubled in price…yikes! For calculation the housing and feeding total will be $295.
Over the years we have had a total of nine chickens. We started with 4 chicks that cost $5 each ($20), one of those chicks turned out to be a rooster so I returned him to the breeder and wound up coming home with 2 pullets (additional $8 for the one I bought in addition to the one I traded). Of that original batch of five we lost our two buff opringtons during an extremely hot summer. The next spring I bought 2 more chicks at $6 each ($12 total). Our next loss was when the dogs from down the street broke into our coop and killed 4 of the 5 girls. We then bought Zsa Zsa a month later for $20. This spring we have had 4 chicks. We only paid for 3 chicks since one was a replacement for a chick that died. Of those 4 we had 2 that survived after a tough bout with an unknown illness. Total cost for the 3 chicks was $18. In total our chickens have cost $78 to purchase.
I have to give my best estimate on feed cost. Every time we get chicks they use a special kind of feed for the first few months. It costs $18 a bag. I will estimate I have bought 3 bags of that feed over the years for a total of $54. A regular bag of feed costs $14. When our flock size is 4-5 we go through about a bag a month. When the flock is smaller like it is now the 50lb bag lasts about 2 months. I will guess we have gone through about 18 bags of feed over the years at a cost of $252 since 2010. Best guess at feed cost since 2010 is $306.
Even the chickens have a utility bill. Their water consumption is minimal so I won’t worry about that. Electricity is a different story. When they are young they are under a heat lamp for the first 3-4 weeks of their life. My best guess at the energy consumption for the bulb over the course of a month is $10…much lower than I thought it would be. Over the 3 times we have had chicks that would be a total of $30. I will factor in another $30 for the fan that I have run at times on their coop when we are having a string of 105+ days. Total electricity is approximately $60 since 2010.
I have some miscellaneous expenses that need to get factored in as well. They are both the result of the people down the street who let their dogs out. There was an $80 vet bill for getting our lone survivor checked out and a $400 fence structure that had to be purchased. Total of $480 out of my pocket due to other people’s negligence…that’s life.
The biggest trick is trying to estimate the number of eggs we have been getting. We had a full producing flock from July 2010 to July 2011. I will say we were getting an average of 18 eggs a week for those 52 weeks for a total of 936 eggs. That sounds about right because we were giving away and selling eggs right and left. In July or August of 2011 we lost 2 of the chickens due to heat and egg production was way off due to the stress. We averaged 1 egg a day from the remaining 3 for a while and I didn’t light the coop over the winter to generate artificial laying. August 2011 to June 2012 we took in an estimated 350 eggs. Egg production fired back up as our new chicks matured and we were back at 3 eggs a day for a few months – a total of 180.
At the end of August 2012 is when the dog attack happened and our flock was wiped out. Our one survivor didn’t lay again for months. We actually had to buy eggs at the store…it was a strange feeling. We started getting eggs again in January and have been averaging an egg a day for a total of 70 eggs to date. So in total I estimate we have taken in approximately 1,500 eggs since 2010. Of those eggs I would guess we have sold about 20 dozen at $2 a dozen.
Still reading? Let’s do some math….
$295 – Housing and feeding equipment
$78 – Purchase price of birds
$306 – Estimated feed expense
$60 – Estimated electricity
$480 – Miscellaneous expense
$1,219 – Total investment in chickens since 2010
That means that each egg costs 81 cents based on my estimate of 1,500 eggs produced since 2010. In all fairness, if I removed the $480 of expenses incurred from the attack the average price per egg drops to 49 cents an egg. And of course the expense of the coop is distributed over a larger amount of time the longer we keep a flock of chickens. For comparison, a dozen organic eggs at Kroger cost $2.50.
What I find even more interesting is removing the overhead expenses (housing, purchase price, misc. expenses) and just taking the consumables ($306 feed + $60 electricity) and dividing that by the total egg production. The average cost per egg based on consumable only is 25 cents per egg (24.4 cents to be precise). That means that every dozen eggs we produce costs $2.93 in consumables. When we let our 5 year-old sell our extra eggs at $2 a dozen we are actually losing $1 per dozen based on consumables alone. Actually we are taking a big loss since we let her keep the money for her piggy bank 🙂
What’s the point? I was just curious how much it was costing to produce our delicious eggs. Like most backyard hobbies, there really is no price savings. Growing your own food in a garden rarely saves much money if any. There is pride in the fruits of your labor and comfort in the knowledge of how that food was produced. The same is true of backyard chickens. They are fun pets that can put dinner on the table.