So You Want to be a Backyard Chicken Rancher

Yes, when people ask me what I do, I say that I am a rancher. I used to say I am a carpenter, because I don’t like to try to explain to everyone what I really do for a living.

Anyway, last year, my wife, referred to as “The Wife,” decided she wanted chickens. Since she really didn’t know if she could commit to keeping chickens, she made a deal to lease them for the season. This post is all about what we have spent and what we have gotten back.

Initial Cost: $450, which included a coop, two chickens, a bag of feed, and a bag of wood shavings , a bag of oyster shell, and a bag of grit.

Status: Two chickens, about 4 dozen eggs a month.

Next Purchases: $150. We decided that we really liked chickens and bought another small coop and two more chickens.

Status: Four chickens, and about 8 dozen eggs a month.


Buying out the Lease: $40. We decided that we liked the first two chickens and didn’t want to give them back, so we bought out the lease for them. We did have to return the original coop, though.

New, Larger Coop: $300. At this point, we had four chickens, and decided that we needed a larger coop, so off we went to Murdoch’s.

Winterization: $400 or so. We built up a nice run with a heated waterer, sand for the base, hardware fabric all around, plastic roof panels, and plastic sheeting to provide more snow and wind protection.

First Chicken Loss: We had one of birds killed by a friend’s dog. It was a tough time, but we just kept reminding ourselves that it was just a chicken, and we expected to lose one over the first year to area hawks, foxes, or raccoons.

Status: Three chickens, and really slow production for them of about 2 dozen a month.

New Chicks: $65. I decided that it was Winter, and that if we started some new chicks, they would be mature early in the Spring, and we would get full production from them. I ordered three Easter Egger pullets (sexed by the hatchery). Wow, it was fun and we learned a great deal. One ended up being a rooster, so he was sent off to the farm.

Second Chicken Loss: A neighborhood dog got into the back yard and killed one of my new EE girls and wounded two of my other three chickens.

Status: Four chickens, one not laying yet. Still cold weather. About 2 dozen a month.

Fencing: $400. Thanks to the neighborhood dog, we had to raise the fence where it jumped over.

New Hens: $40. We bought two more hens from another chicken keeper that are about a year and a half old, and are semi-laying. The weather is warming up, and so is production.

Status: Six chickens and about 10 dozen eggs a month.


TOTAL COST: $2,090 or so (I added the cost of feed and other consumables to the other costs)

TOTAL EGGS: Approx 850

Cost per Egg About $2.45, Cost per dozen $29.40

In all fairness, there are some very unusual costs involved in our case, and now that everything is all built up for the six birds, the only real cost that we have now is feed and some other consumables, which I estimate to be about $15 a month, so our future expectations would be a cost per egg for this coming season of about $2.50 per dozen.

We have loved every minute of owning chickens, and are very glad that we did it.

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One Response to So You Want to be a Backyard Chicken Rancher

  1. Pingback: One of my friends raises chickens – here is his story | Raptorpen's Reblogs

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