Breaking It Down

I am going to try to keep records (something I am not very good at doing) on the cost of my chicken project.  I probably don't really want to know what it will cost me to get these birds from peeps to pullets and roosters but here it goes. 

Keep in mind that in the past I have started smaller batches of birds and started them in my bathtub.  I decided not to do that so that I could keep the mess outside.  So, there was additional expense in buying equipment for this first big venture.

Start Up Fees:
Three Brooder Lamps and a two bulb package of red heat lights:              $36.00
Additional Brooder Lamps:                                                                                16.00
Additional bulbs:                                                                                                 16.00
Outdoor extension cord;                                                                                     12.00
Plastic Flip Top Chicken Feeders (6)                                                                 36.00
One gallon waterers (3)                                                                                       21.00
50# chick starter feed                                                                                          18.00
Plastic Tubs to be used as brooders (2)                                                         130.00

Purchase price for 100 chicks (75 pullets & 25 roosters)                     $305.00

Our birds cost a little more because they are not a breed that every hatchery sells.  Also, I chose McMurray over some of the others because after using a variety of hatcheries in the past, I like the quality of their birds as they seem to be healthier and prettier birds. 

I am also hoping that by choosing a breed that sports of type of natural camouflage, we will lose fewer to predators. 

So far, we have lost two birds.  (The hatchery sent us an extra five birds.)  One of them was lethargic and though we worked hard to save her, we could never get her to perk up.  She died during the night last night.  We brought her in and babied her.  The photo below shows the little peep on the counter in the Milk Kitchen where we were feeding her yogurt.  We then brought her in the house and put a heat lamp on her.  She would stand up and chirp but then would lie down and be listless.  We were "force" feeding her as she would not eat on her own.  The other chicks had been picking on her.  They seemed to know that she was "different" or that something was wrong.  (I hate that about humans and chickens in that the one who is weaker or different is often picked on.)  It was sad to lose her especially after we worked so hard to save her, but we realize it happens.

The other chick died from a freak accident and we are just very blessed that we did not lose more!  I had 25 chicks in tub and I had changed out the newspaper in the bottom of the tub and put in fresh pine shavings.  When I put the waterer back in, I even checked to make sure that it was sitting level but evidently it was not or it was jarred.  I still am not sure how it happened.  However, when Mike came back about 30 minutes later, the 25 birds were drowning as the one gallon waterer had leaked all over the tub and the birds were in about an inch of water.  One of the birds drowned.   I was just heartbroken and sick over this.  We quickly move the wet birds to a dry tub and then dried them off both physically and with a hair dryer.  There were four or five that I thought were not going to make it, but they have all bounced back and seem to be doing fine. 

I think this post just begins to give reason as to the cost of fresh farm eggs.  The birds are not cheap to get started and the above mentioned costs do not include the feed it will take to raise them up to laying age (4-6 months), we do not yet know our total loss of birds, and we have not calculated the cost of the electricity it takes to run all those brooder lamps.

Notes and Additional Expenses:
End of Week One:

3/7/2012  A total of 8 peeps were lost during the first week.

End of Week Two

3/8/2012  Remaining peeps are thriving.  No additional expenses this week other than the electricity to run the heat lights. 

Notes :In the future, I will continue to buy the pine shavings.  They are worth the extra money. 
The one gallon waterers work great now that the birds are larger.  In the future, I may invest in the mason jar type waterers for the first few days so that there drowning is less likely. 
Also, I will ask the hatchery to mark the birds so that the roosters are easily distinguishable so that I can keep them separate from the hens in future orders.

Week Three:

Purchased a bag of chick starter on sale for $15.00
Photo taken 3/13/2012


WeldrBrat said…
Before you get discouraged... don't forget there's a chunk there that you invested into initial costs to get you going. Next round of dishing funds out won't be so monstrous! LOL
Deb said…
It may be more expensive to raise your own eggs...but they are so much better for you (and taste a LOT better) so that makes it worth doing it!