Cost of keeping hens?

Do you keep livestock? Having any problems? Want to talk about it, whether it be sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, bees or llamas, here is your place to discuss.
cookie
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:28 am

Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133118Post cookie »

I am curious from all you experts - how much does it cost you to keep your hens? Does it actually work out more expensive than buying eggs from the shop?

Also am I correct in assuming a couple would want 3-4 hens to produce enough eggs for eating/baking etc?

I understand home 'grown' are tasier and more satisfying!
Last edited by cookie on Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
L 11OBS
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:11 pm

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133122Post L 11OBS »

Hi, home 'grown' are much tastier and hugely satisfying, cost wise it depends on what type of eggs you buy, you can get eggs for around 10p each in the supermarket if you buy eggs from battery hens, compared to free range and certainly organic (approx 20-25p each) your running costs will be slightly cheaper, but it will take you some time to recoup the set up costs.

Call me a saddo but I am keeping a record of my costs (everything) to see how long it takes to claw back my investment, I am currently £240 down on the deal and have had my girls (6) for 2 months, this time of year is not good for egg laying but with 2 or 3 eggs a day they are just about paying their way, I am basing my egg price at £1.20 per 1/2 doz (after pricing up free range eggs at various supermarkets) and I'm currently using around £2.50 per week's worth on layers pellets, porridge oats and mixed corn.

cookie
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:28 am

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133123Post cookie »

What great detail! I have always been the nerdy type to keep records. Nice to see what you are getting out of it.

Anyone else? Does every hen keep feel it is worth it?

User avatar
Mainer in Exile
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 778
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:06 pm
Location: Middle Franconia, Germany

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133179Post Mainer in Exile »

By the time I get done buying hens, buying feed, building and maintaining shelters, my eggs end up costing considerably more than it would cost to simply buy the eggs. Nevertheless, keeping hens is, IMHO, worth it. There is really no other way to ensure the freshness of the eggs, and to know for sure what the hens have been feeding on and how they are being kept. For my piece of mind, it is worth it.

Also, there is the birds themselves. It is one of my great joys in life to go out to the henhouse every day and feed them, to see the enthusiasm with which they greet me when they see the bucket of feed in my hand. Hens are simply nice to have.
"The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command"
-J.R.R. Tolkien

User avatar
Thomzo
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 4305
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:42 pm
Location: Swindon, South West England

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133193Post Thomzo »

I think it depends on your set up costs. As I was able to use an existing shed, I only had to buy a roll of wire netting at £40 and about £5 on a feeder and other small bits. It also depends on how much you pay for your hens. You can spend up to £20 on a specific breed or just a pound on an ex-bat.

I sell my surplus eggs at £1/half dozen and I reckon that I have just about broken even by now recouping the cost of set up, food, water, wormer and vitamin supplement and cost of hens.

I pay about £5 for a 25kg bag of feed which should last 6 hens about a month. You should get an egg a day from young, healthy hens. This will tail off in the winter and as the hens get older. There comes a point when you have to decide whether the hens are economical to keep or whether you are prepared to feed them for no return.

I'd say that having your own hens works out cheaper than buying free-range eggs but only if you are prepared to be ruthless when they get old.

Zoe
Think globally, shop locally
Check out my blog at http://designedbyzoe.blogspot.com/
http://www.thomzo.co.uk

User avatar
red
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 6513
Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:59 pm
Location: Devon UK
Contact:

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133204Post red »

I was thinking about this only today. This question has come up a number of times, and last time I answered it, I did wonder how things would go in the winter..

well we have 11 birds - one is a cockerel. Only 4 are laying at the moment, and we are averaging at least 3 eggs a day.

3 eggs a day is 42 eggs a fortnight. We use approx 1 bag of non GM layers pellets per fortnight. each bag costs 6 quid something. lets call it 7 quid. So i get 42eggs/7 quid or each half dozen costs us £1.17 to produce. The co-op sells medium sized free range eggs at £1.62/ half doz. so.. yes.. its cheaper - and these are the winter figures - we get a lot more eggs in the summer and those costs per half doz go right down (if we had 8 eggs a day, the cost per half doz would be 0.39p)

as Thomzo says, you have to allow your setting up costs, you can effectively get your egg costs covered by sellings spare eggs, then you get your eggs for yourself for free

any birds that don't produce come spring will be removed and casseroled, and either replaced (hence we have a cockerel) or at the very least there will be less mouths to feed.
nb only one of the older girls is giving me eggs at the mo - the rest are coming from chicks we raised earlier in the year (all grown up now) and a new POL we bought. if you want to keep eggs in winter without artificial light, you have to have young birds generally.
Red

I like like minded people... a bit like minded anyway.. well people with bits of their minds that are like the bits of my mind that I like...

my website: colour it green

etsy shop

blog

contadino
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:39 pm
Location: Apulia, Italia

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133210Post contadino »

We have 6 chickens at the moment - one cock and 5 hens - and we're getting 4 or 5 eggs a day from them. A sack of feed costs €11 and lasts them a month. So for us, it works out okay. However...

1. You can sell excess eggs to friends/neighbours to subsidise their feed costs. Last year we covered our feed costs completely this way.
2. Chickens aren't really into home decor, so with a little inventiveness, you can knock together housing for them for next to nothing, although a decent fence is a worthwhile investment. I paid €60 for a roll of galanised mesh to make a 40m fence and used half of it. The other half is going to be used to make a second run sometime soon, so we can alternate them between the two runs on a monthly basis.
3. Their manure is really rich and will reduce the amount of time compost takes to mature considerably, so they add value there.
4. They're great to just watch.
5. You can reduce their feed costs by giving them a good green area to forage around in. Some friends have 12 hens and get through the same amount of feed as us because their hens are not fenced in. They get 9 or 10 eggs a day, of which they keep 3 or 4 and sell the rest to the local shop. They make a respectable amount of money from this little enterprise. That's why we want to have alternating runs for ours.

Something to be aware of, though, is that different breeds eat different quantities. When we started out, we accidentally bought Ross Cobbs (a table breed), which ate everything in sight and didn't produce a huge number of eggs. Now we have ISA Browns and Leghorns (both good layers) and they eat less than half what the Cobbs got through and produce more eggs.

User avatar
The Riff-Raff Element
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1650
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:27 pm
Location: South Vendée, France
Contact:

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133212Post The Riff-Raff Element »

Like Contadino I rather use my flock for things other than the production of eggs: manuring ground and clearing weeds / pests. I've got around 30 at the moment (I'm replacing older layers with some chicks I hatched last summer) and concentrated on relatively small areas sequentially they do a great deal for me. That has to be worth something :lol:

I cut costs by growing some food myself: lots of kale, sunflower heads and part of the potato crop (cooked and bashed) go to the hens.

User avatar
Witsinfr
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:00 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133215Post Witsinfr »

I started recording our livestock expenses versus 'revenue' from not having to buy eggs and meat since early November. As we've had all of our livestock since before then it is a bit weighted in our favour.

I get the 'revenue' from not buying eggs (€3/dozen), chicken meat (€6.50/kilo), duck meat (€5.00/kilo), rabbit meat (€7.50/kilo) and finally turkey meat (€5.00/kilo). These prices are not the top of the range free-range eggs/meats although that is the quality of our production, it is also not the cheapest of prices. The reasoning being that we would probably not have bought the top priced products, nor the bottom of the range.

We just dressed our two turkeys, they're currently sitting in the freezer and from just these two birds we received 20 kilos of meat and that's not including the offal which the dogs have already had and thoroughly enjoyed. We've priced this turkey meat up at almost €100, not bad for a couple of birds that only cost us around €4 each to buy.

I'm currently cutting our flock down a bit and freezing them, they've grown enough, but as it's getting colder they do seem to be eating more, probably a mechanism to keep warm, so if they're not a layer then they're bound for the freezers (main cockerel excluded, we'll need his services to get us going again after the winter).

So does it pay, well compared with the cheapo crap you can get in the supermarkets - most definitely no.

But compared with good quality upper range eggs/meats I think it does.

What you can't price up though is the satisfaction of growing your own food, nor the quality and taste, it's far better.

Will stop now as I see this turning into a 'book' :lol:
You will find me here...
And here's my MiniCity, help it to grow by clicking the LINK...

Rod in Japan
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:47 am
Location: Matsuyama, Japan
Contact:

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133316Post Rod in Japan »

Has anybody tried keeping a couple of small hens and not feeding them at all?

I'm curious about the possibility of letting a small variety roam over my clover/grass lawn, with access to acorns and wolfberries in season and kitchen scraps. I suppose the problem would be in winter when there are few bugs... Does it sound at all feasible? (Yes, I am thinking like a Scrooge here, no need to point it out.)

Also, I seem to remember reading that you get a better rate of feed to egg conversion from smaller birds. Can anybody confirm that?

contadino
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:39 pm
Location: Apulia, Italia

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133336Post contadino »

Rod in Japan wrote:Has anybody tried keeping a couple of small hens and not feeding them at all?

I'm curious about the possibility of letting a small variety roam over my clover/grass lawn, with access to acorns and wolfberries in season and kitchen scraps. I suppose the problem would be in winter when there are few bugs... Does it sound at all feasible? (Yes, I am thinking like a Scrooge here, no need to point it out.)
Yes, I expect that with the right forage, they'd survive. You wouldn't have big birds, and their egg production would be very low, but they'd probably not die.
Rod in Japan wrote:Also, I seem to remember reading that you get a better rate of feed to egg conversion from smaller birds. Can anybody confirm that?
Layers are typically smaller than table birds, but that's pretty much common sense.

cookie
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:28 am

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 133546Post cookie »

Thanks for the replies guys. Certainly lots of knowledge in this forum. Definately lots to think about. :study:

Wortle
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 136751Post Wortle »

Hi, I am looking for Swindon Thomzo. I am wondering where you get your pellets for £5 from?
Hope you see this
:sunny:
Wortle

matowakan
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:03 pm
Location: Dorset UK

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 143440Post matowakan »

I too evaluated cost of keeping hens.
I think to be cost effective you need to have more than a few and sell the eggs.
Initially I had 2 and it was cheaper for me to buy eggs than keep them.But as they were such characters and tame(after a lot of work) I couldn't get rid of them.
But I did find that with 2 laying every day it was enough eggs for the 2 of us a week.

User avatar
red
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 6513
Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:59 pm
Location: Devon UK
Contact:

Re: Cost of keeping hens?

Post: # 143490Post red »

well since I posted on this thread, the hens started to really lay - and we are now getting 6-8 eggs a day - I approached a couple of neighbours and are selling them at £1 for 6 - which undercuts the shops and matches the pub who also sell them. mine are freerange and pretty colours... so neighbours are getting a good deal, and we are getting the costs more than covered - and so are getting our eggs for free.
I'm keeping a jar for 'egg money' and taking out of that for the hen food.. the price of hen food has gone down incidentally.... so should be able to see if they continue to pay for themselves.
Red

I like like minded people... a bit like minded anyway.. well people with bits of their minds that are like the bits of my mind that I like...

my website: colour it green

etsy shop

blog

Post Reply