So you’re interested in getting some chickens. I warn you now, you will become a victim of chicken math if your not careful. But one of the ways to keep that from happening is to really understand what you’re getting yourself into. It’s not as easy as going to Tractor Supply or your local feed store and picking up a batch of chicks. How much do chickens cost? A lot.
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Before You Get Chickens
I feel like I should start every single blog post about livestock by reminding you that you should not get ANY livestock, including chickens until you have a garden set up. I also fully expect you to not listen. It’s just the nature of homesteaders.
In all seriousness, you should be prepared for chicks or chickens WAY before they ever show up on your property.
The Chicken Coop
You have a couple options here when it comes to your chicken coop. You can go as cheap or as expensive as you want. But there are some hard fast rules that you should follow. It should be secure from predators and this includes the human variety, too.
You should make sure that it is draft free, but with good ventilation. There should be roosting bars and nesting boxes. But after that, sky is the limit. We have a metal shed that we use and we like it for the most part, but I’m not a huge fan. The metal has started to rust in less than a year and it’s very drafty in the winter and BOILING hot in the summer. We normally use it for brooding chicks since it is more secure and stays pretty warm when we’ve got the lamps on.
I would stay away from anything that isn’t made from real wood. There’s a bunch on the internet that are composite and unless it is a good quality like the decking boards. There are also a ton of places that shell really nice shed/ coops. If you can build it, that would probably be a better option because at $8,000? My girls are just find in their metal shed, outside or in a tree.
Buckets, Waterers and Feeders
You can absolutely cut corners here, but remember, the more corners you cut, the more issues you can have. For example, I would not get a tiny seven pound chick feeder for your chicks. The reality is that you are going to be filling that thing twice a day depending on the amount of chicks you have. I would get one like this, that is going last them for at least a day but preferably several days.
The same thing goes for waterers. Don’t get a tiny one. You will be refilling it all the time. We have several of these, and absolutely love them. Chicks are able to drink from them with no problems. And we don’t have to worry as much about them running out of water.
Buckets and pans are as needed but you will eventually need them. Pans for oyster shell or buckets for hauling feed. You will eventually need them.
So How Much Do Chickens Cost?
Let’s start with the coop. A decent middle of the road coop shouldn’t cost you much more than $500. I would recommend getting one with a run attached to it so that on days that they can’t free range, they have a way to get outside.
If you want a bigger run, I would recommend poultry netting. You can get the netting and a solar charger for under $600 for GOOD netting. Don’t try to save money here by getting cheap. Cheap means less protection from predators, chickens getting loose, and more. This is the netting we have and it works great.
Your feeders, waterers, buckets, and feed will all depend on your location but should run you about $100 for good feeders and waterers. Feed should be about $15-35 depending on where you get it. I am able to get Non-GMO feed at my local feed store for about $17/ 50# bag.
Supplements will also depend on your area but for a different reason. If you have high parasite loads on your property, you’re going to want to get something for that. We use Corrid for our chicks. We also give them electrolytes in the summer because it gets so hot and humid here in Georgia.
Grand total you are looking at about $1200 before you even get your chicks. Again, this will depend on which coop and supplies you get.
Brooding Your Chicks
Before you get your chicks, you need to have a brooder that is ready to go. I talk in depth about brooding in this blog post. This could look like a large tub with a heat lamp in your living room, like the picture below. Or a metal shed and a bunch of lights. Everyone will brood their chicks differently. If we only have a few chicks, we will brood in the house in a large tub. If we have a ton of chicks, like when we bring home our meat chickens, we will brood in the metal shed.
Buying the Chicks
I would make sure that you have the coop, brooder, and supplies BEFORE getting your chicks.
Usually, you can get chicks for about $3-7 each. This is going to depend on your breed and if you get straight run. I highly recommend getting sexed chicks. This will help you avoid getting roosters and then figuring out what to do with them.
I also recommend getting from a reputable hatchery. We use McMurray Hatchery and have for years. We love them and will probably always go with them unless we don’t have a choice.
The biggest problem about getting chicks is not falling victim to chicken math. I wrote a whole blog post about chicken math and how to avoid it here. But some quick points that I forgot to mention is making sure that you get a chicken coop that will only fit so many chickens. Then making the decision, and sticking to it, that you will only have THIS many chickens. I wish you the best of luck with it.
At The End Of The Day
I can’t tell you exactly how much chickens cost. There are too many variables. But the biggest thing to remember is that a good coop, feeders and waterers, feed and the chickens themselves are not cheap. You will end up spending at least $1200-$2000 before you ever get that first egg. That’s if you do it “right”. You can go cheaper and you ca go more expensive. But your eggs will never be free.
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