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How Much Does It Cost to Raise Chickens? (2021 Price Guide)

Nicole Cosgrove

If you are considering raising chickens on your land, you likely have several questions, and the most important one is how much raising the chickens will cost. While prices can fluctuate widely depending on where you live and other factors, including the pandemic, we’ve created a guide that we believe will help you get a basic idea of what you will need. Keep reading while we discuss adoption, annual expenses, vaccinations, food, and much more to help you make an informed decision.

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Bringing Home Chicks: One-Time Costs

chicken chicks_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Before bringing home your chickens for the first time, you will need to save for a few one-time costs to get your chickens what they will need to stay safe. You will need a coop to keep the chickens in to protect them from predators like the hawk and fox. You will also need lighting and a food and water bowl. You may also choose to get an egg incubator if you use your chickens for meat. You will need to have a rooster to fertilize the eggs, but an incubator can help you hatch several at once. Many people like to buy chicks, but they will need plenty of attention as they age to eight weeks when they are ready to begin laying eggs. We recommend purchasing pullets because they are almost ready to begin laying eggs, and you won’t need to care for them for the first eight weeks or more.

Free

If you are looking for free chickens, you can start by getting an egg incubator and trying to hatch a fertilized egg. You can often find these at farms that sell fresh eggs. If you see a rooster near the coop, there is a good chance you will purchase a fertilized egg by buying a few dozen. You might also be surprised at how many people are willing to give you a free chicken, but free chickens are almost always too old to be of much use.

egg incubator_SutidaS_Shutterstock
Image Credit: SutidaS, Shutterstock

Adoption

Another great way to get inexpensive chickens is to adopt them from a local shelter or rescue. You can often purchase these birds for as little as $4, making it one of the best ways to grow your flock. Adoption can help save lives, and some agencies will look at others in the network to let you know if a sold-out product is available elsewhere.

Breeder

A good breeder is essential when you are purchasing your chickens. High-quality breeders can provide you a healthier chicken through selective breeding. Selective breeding means that a breeder will not use a chicken with a genetic predisposition for a disease. Doing so for hundreds of years has given the breeder the knowledge to create a healthy dog breed.

4 Common Breeds and Their Average Cost

flock of chickens_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Maybe you can offer prices for chicks and pullets here.

Arcona $3-$5
Buff Laced $4 – $6
Easter Egger $2 – $3.5o
Silver Pheonix $4 – $6

Supplies

You will need several supplies to keep your chickens healthy and happy so they will produce the maximum number of eggs. Your chickens will need a coop to stay in so they are protected from predators as they sleep. They will also need high-quality feed to get the nutrients they require and a waterer or fountain to keep them hydrated. Soft bedding will make the coop more comfortable and will also insulate the coop from cold weather. You will also need a heater if you live in a colder environment and a waste disposal system. You may also need to purchase other items depending on your situation, like fencing, automatic doors, and lighting.

List of Chicken Care Supplies and Cost

Coop $200 – $700
Feed $50 – $60/ 40-lb bag
Bedding $25 – $50
Fountain $25 – $50
Heater $35 – $60
Light $30 – $60
Fencing $50 – $70

Annual Expenses

chicks in grass_Piqsesl
Image Credit: Piqsels

$250 – $350 per year

Once you have the coop set up and the chickens purchased, it is not difficult or expensive to raise even many birds. You only need to supply feed and freshwater, which will take more time than cost money. You will also need to clean the coop and change the bedding frequently, but bedding is extremely inexpensive, and you can even use recycled materials like newspaper and cardboard to keep costs as low as possible.

Health Care

$100 – $300 per year

Chickens are fairly healthy animals, and you will not need to spend a lot of money on health care. One of the most common problems they experience is mites that can drink your chicken’s blood and lead to health problems. Your chickens may not lay eggs in nests infested with these mites, so you will need to eliminate them. Most poultry farmers recommend using the insecticide permethrin or diatomaceous earth. Your chicken might also catch a cold or other illness that requires medication on occasion.

Check-Ups

$0 per year

Your chicken will not need regular check-ups from a vet, but you will need to lift and look over your bird frequently, looking for signs of illness or bug infestation so you can get them the help they need as soon as possible before the problem spreads to other chickens in your flock.

Vaccinations

chicken vet._greenOlli_Shutterstock
Image Credit: greenOlli, Shutterstock

$100 – $300

It’s best to protect your chickens with vaccinations for Marek’s disease, fowl pox, Newcastle bronchitis, and many more to help your chicken live a long life. Many people wait until there is an outbreak on their farm, but that can cost you your flock. It’s better to get the vaccinations early to protect the birds.

Environment Maintenance

$50 – $100 per year

Your chicken coop will only require a minimal amount of maintenance each year. You will need to clean out and replace the bedding frequently as chickens produce a lot of waste. We recommend soft pine shavings because they trap moisture and create a cleaner environment, but they can be more expensive than recycled materials like newspaper and cardboard that cost next to nothing. You may need to do some repairs to the coop if it’s a few years old to make sure predators cannot enter, and you might need to change a lightbulb or two if you are using lighting.

Bedding $50/year
Coop Maintenance $20/year
Lighting $10/year

Total Annual Cost of Raising Chickens

chickens eating_Dietrich Leppert_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Dietrich Leppert, Shutterstock

$200 – $400 per year

You can expect to pay between $200 – $400 raising a small flock of chickens in a coop. The initial cost can be high because you need to buy a coop. Your inexperience may also cause you to lose birds that you wouldn’t have lost later, so you can expect replacement costs to be higher than you expected, but otherwise, you can raise chickens fairly cheaply.

Raising Chickens on a Budget

If you want to raise your chickens on a budget, the best thing you can do is avoid special features like an automatic coop door that closes and opens at the right time each day. Instead, you will need to open and close the coop manually each day, which means you will need to wake up and do it, even in winter. You can also save money by using recycled bedding like newspaper, cardboard, and even grass clippings if you have a large yard. These materials are not too absorbent, so you will need to replace them much more often than other types, but they are practically free of charge.

Saving Money on Chicken Care

Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Many owners try to avoid vaccinating their chickens until there is a problem, but diseases like Marek’s can infect your entire flock before you can react and leave you with no birds. We recommend talking with a veterinarian in your area to see if there are any vaccinations you can avoid and which ones you better get.

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Conclusion

Raising chickens can be a wonderful experience for children and adults alike. It can also be quite profitable once you know what you are doing, and the chickens are consistently laying eggs. We recommend avoiding taking too many shortcuts. A predator can break into a cheap coop and take your chickens. Inexpensive bedding will force you to spend all of your time cleaning the coop, and not getting them vaccinated can put them at risk for a disease that can eliminate your entire flock. Using the higher quality materials is not much more expensive because it lasts longer and frees up your time.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers you needed. If we have helped you plan your henhouse, please share this guide to how much it costs to raise chickens on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: KRiemer, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.