In running a Bed & Breakfast, we use a lot of eggs. We prepare all of our breakfast dishes with fresh ingredients, including eggs. For example, to prepare Eggs Benedict for just two people, we use 7 eggs. Currently, we purchase 2-3 dozen eggs a week from a family nearby. This family washes them, puts them in a carton and even delivers them for $3 per dozen. This sounds far easier than the little project we are involved in right now of preparing to raise our own chickens! Yes, we are building a chicken yard! A Chick Chick here, a Chick Chick there!
Since we use 2-dozen eggs a week during the off-season and about 4-dozen a week during the summer months, let’s just call the average number of eggs we use three dozen. Now, doing the math, a chicken yields about one egg per day. With seven days a week, I am planning to acquire 5 chickens. This approximately 3 dozen eggs a week will save us $468 per year. If that is the savings, what are the costs?
The investment is more in up front expenses, of course since we have to build the little chickens a home! We now have spent several hundred dollars in supplies including concrete and lumber to build a chicken yard and chicken house. I turned to Pinterest for the plans! (Sidenote: Jack is not real happy with Pinterest about now!)
I hear chickens will eat all of our excess food scraps including peelings and egg shells! Nice! Now I won’t have to compost! But will I have to supplement with chicken feed? Yes, most likely. How much will that cost? Well, let me just consult one of my reference books!!
The books say that laying hens (or pullets) need about 1/4 pound of feed a day. And kids say they don’t need to learn math! Here’s another practical word problem! Although I will build up to 5 chickens, I am starting with just 4 laying hens; no roosters (And yes, chickens can lay eggs without roosters- think about it!). With 4 hens needing ¼ lb. of feed each, that is a total of one pound of feed per day. And for one year…that is 52 pounds of feed. But, which feed? What do I buy?! Back to the books…
Mash-really finely ground- but that’s usually for chicks…
Scratch– the books say it’s like candy but the chickens love scratching around the ground for these corn pieces.
Pellets are each equally nutritious, but they are boring to eat and then chickens pick at each other to entertain themselves! Really?!
Crumbles– Research shows that chickens grow and lay better by eating crumbles. We like good research!
Grit– This is just limestone and granite! They need this for their gizzard! Won’t the ground up egg shells give them grit?!
The books say we want to grow our pullets slowly for strong bones so at first the protein needs to be 18 percent for the first 14 weeks and 16% after that. How old are my new chickens? I don’t even know! Let me just price Crumbles with 16% protein. Google that! There is a great variance in protein percentages, but I found one with 16% protein concentration in crumbles in a quantity for 50 pounds of feed for $15.00. Now I have to store that feed in a large plastic trashcan, determine the type of bedding to use, get a feeding trough and watering container.
✔ Feed $15 (Note that the original post was incorrect. I need 7.3 bags of feed for one year; 365 pounds per year)=$109.50 for feed per year but $15 would get me started!)
✔ Trash can for feed $27.00
✔ Feeding Trough $20
✔ Watering container $30
✔ Shavings for bedding $20 (for starters)
Total of $112 to get started (well, plus the building supplies!)
My head is spinning! And the chicken house isn’t done (photos below showing what we have done so far). It has been raining profusely! And the chickens will be here Saturday! My house isn’t ready and their breakfast is not yet prepared! ….A chick chick here, a chick chick there!