Elizabeth (Hi!) and Franz (also hi!) brought up the issue of chicken costs. This seemed like a good time to post a complete breakdown. Which isn’t very hard, because Excel is my favorite thing in the whole entire world, and I have been tracking every expense from the beginning.
Construction costs: $481.07
Consumables (feed, scratch, and bedding): $427.36
Equipment (waterers, feeders, brood lamps): $59.82
My medical bills: $239.00
Donation for Ethel’s cremation: $10.00
As you can see, chickens are pretty affordable if you only count the consumables. If I hadn’t broken my wrist, or built their housing, I would be down to only .35 per egg.
(Incidentally, I got off cheaply by building my own from scratch. A chicken tractor kit will cost around $2,000, and you still have to put it together yourself.)
It’s hard to guess a chicken’s natural lifespan. Most of them meet a premature end. (I initially typed “meat.” Freudian typo.) I have heard of chickens as old as ten. Most chickens only produce well for the first two years, and their egg production tapers off sharply after that.
Unfortunately I didn’t think to start tracking their eggs by month until January 2010. They started laying in August 2009.
Of course, that chart is somewhat misleading. I only have three chickens now, and I’m pretty sure one of them (Harriet) isn’t laying. Here is a chart that’s adjusted for the number of eggs per laying hen.
If you only looked at this chart, you would think things were going pretty well!
Basically to sum it up: Keeping chickens to save money on eggs is like knitting to save money on clothes. It doesn’t really work out that way, but you get a MUCH better product.
(Maybe some other day we can discuss the relationship between price suppression and cruelty: sweatshop labor for clothes, and battery cages for hens.)