I travelled to Abrams Village two days ago to help finish processing the last ten chickens for the summer. It was another hot afternoon of work, and I’m glad that it’s over for the year. I finally took some time this afternoon and go through all the receipts so I could post my conclusions on raising chickens. In short, I’m happy to announce that it most definitely is :)
Average Dressed Weight: 4.8 lbs
Price/lb at Farmer’s Market: $4
Average Chicken Value: $19.20
Total Chicken Value: $691.20
This is the list of things you would have to buy every year to raise the chickens. I’ve rounded all the costs to the nearest $5 just to keep things simple.
Brooder Lights: $20
Wood Shavings: $25
Total Non-Capital Costs: $220
Non-Capital Profit: $480
Per Chicken: $13.33
My initial hand-wavy calculations were around $10/chicken.. we’ll see how this compares to the next set of numbers
In the case where you only raise chickens for one summer and then sell / give away / lose the equipment, is it still worth it? I believe so
Non-Capital Costs: $220
Total Costs: $525
Per Chicken: $4.86
*Almost half of the price of the pen came from the roof. There are definitely ways to reduce costs here by visiting a scrapyard (as long as you have a truck). Also, getting scrap lumber would save another 25-30%.
Even if you only do this for one summer, it is still worth it to raise your own food. With a bit of time and effort, you can scrounge materials and equipment throughout the winter or previous fall and really cut down on the expenses.
In terms of doing this for profit, things get a bit trickier here. Certainly it can provide some added income for the summer on a slightly larger scale: raising 300 chickens could net around $2700 and you can easily fit three batches in one summer.
The tough part comes at the end for slaughtering; it is definitely time-consuming to learn and until you and a few other people become skilled, it will kill your hourly rate. I think it would be an ideal thing for several families to get together each year to help raise and process food for the winter; it would certainly be cheaper than buying a similarly grown product, and the satisfaction of knowing exactly where your food comes from is priceless.