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The Economics of Raising Chickens For Eggs - Are We Really Saving MONEY?

So are chickens really worth the expense? What’s the ROI (return on investment) for backyard farmers? Well, I think the answers to those questions will be different for just about every farmer we know, but the following will be our perspective. To simplify this whole thing we are going to use 1 chicken’s cost over a two-year window. 

So 1 chick costs us about $3.50 (seems cheap, right?) 

That chick won’t lay eggs for the first 6 months so we can’t count those weeks, plus egg production drops about 20% yearly, and we need to account for that as well. Over the course of 2 years, our chicken should lay about 4 eggs per week or 270 eggs total. (4 X 52 X 2 = 270)

So if we have 270 eggs, that means we have about 22.5 dozen eggs. Currently, at Whole Foods, a dozen eggs are about $3.50. So 22.5 X $3.50 = $78.75. That’s what we consider Profit! 

But don’t get too excited just yet. There’s more to consider. 

We still haven’t calculated feed. Shoot! I thought I was on my way to becoming a millionaire. 

So how much is feed for 1 chicken? Well, our chicken eats about ¼ pound of feed daily. So let's do some math. .25 lbs of feed over the course of two years (730 X .25) equals about 182.5 lbs of feed. 

How much is the feed? Well, we buy ours in 50 lb bags, so 182.5 lbs divided by 50 lbs equals 3.65 bags of feed, for our chicken. Our non-GMO feed costs us about $15 a bag, so let's do that math. $15 X 3.65 equals $54.75. Not bad at all. I think we are still making money!! 

So far we are profitable but we haven’t considered the cost of the coop, safety, feeding supplies, medicine, and god forbid predator loss. Those are all clearly costs, but we also need to consider the profits like chicken poo-manu (manure), pest reduction, not having to till the garden and the amount of love the fills our chicken loving hearts! I’m going to go ahead and say for this one chicken we break even on all of the above. But, and that’s a big BUT, since our chicken’s egg production is reduced by about 20% every year, but their feed consumption stays about the same and the feed costs likely will increase, our chicken does start to cost us money after about year 4. 

So based on this example, if you keep your chicken for less than 5 years, you will be profitable. Not a millionaire, but excellently profitable. :-) If you keep her for more than 5 years you will undoubtedly be in the red! But when you consider the quality of the eggs you are getting from your own hens and the love they bring into your homes, you are super profitable!

How does your chicken math work? Profitable or no? Let team FLYGRUBS know in the comments.

All the best,

Emily


Economics of Raising Meat Chickens - Do Farmers Really Save Money?

Do farmers really SAVE MONEY raising chickens?

In this week's blog, we wanted to breakdown the economics of raising meat chickens. We all know that factory farms have done one hell of a job to reduce the price of chicken meat. Whether or not we support their operations is a whole other topic. So if you’re raising chickens to save money, it really depends on what you mean. We don’t think it’s possible to save money if you compare it to the prices you see at the local supermarket, but if you compare your costs to those of a local farmers market and Whole Foods, we think it’s very possible. For this blog, we are going to dive into Rhodes family experience with raising chickens for meat but you need to keep in mind that a lot of this depends on which part of the world you live in and what your local free-range pasture-raised chicken meat costs. Let’s jump right into it the cost breakdown!

The breakdown (fermented feed)

57 total birds harvest          
75 originally purchased from thePoultryHatchery.com for a total of $184.25
261 LBS freezer-weight
4 1⁄2 LBS average weight
18 bags of “Grower Feed” 
$29.50 per 50 LB bag without shipping for a TOTAL of $531
$33.38 per 50 LBS bag 
$600.84 TOTAL feed costs
$12.82 cost for two bags of shavings from Tractor Supply
$22.42 worth of bags
TOTAL COST: $820.33
TOTAL FEED COST per LB: $2.03
TOTAL COST PER POUND: $3.14
Whole Foods Cost: $3.99
Primal Pastures organic pastured bird: $5.99   
Did they beat Whole Foods and the farmers market 

Heck yes! 

Whole Foods chickens cost about $3.99 per pound and the farmers market charges around $6 per pound! These guys crushed it at $3.14 per pound! But what about the difference in taste! Unmatched according to Justin and his wife! I bet they would have grown a bit larger if they’d supplemented their chicken's diet with FLYGRUBS

It’s clear that if you’re up for the challenge and you have the time, you’re going to produce a superior quality bird at a cheaper price (if you don’t include the time you put in). Thanks to Justin for the awesome vlog and being so opening! We love his channel! 

All the best, 

Emily


Are Urban Chickens Right For You?

These days, it should come as no surprise that we ship a lot of FLYGRUBS to our AWESOME customers living in cities. Back in the day, it wasn’t typical for an urban area to have people raising chickens, but that is changing quickly. People are becoming more self-reliant, enjoying eating fresh eggs daily and raising chickens and ducks in their backyards is worthwhile! In this week’s blog, we will go over some of the key aspects of raising urban backyard chickens.

As mentioned above fresh eggs are typically the biggest driver yet another common reason is that many families in urban areas don’t have space to raise “normal” pets, so chickens fill the void. Unlike cats and dogs, chickens don’t just consume, they also give back! It’s also great for kids to know where their food comes from. Most children think their food comes from the supermarket, so having chickens opens their eyes to how agriculture actually works, which is pretty darn cool!

Chickens also help to get rid of food waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill AND they eat up all the little insects that run around the backyard. So that helps the environment as well as one's bank account!
Cha-Ching!

Are you also into urban gardening? If you raise chickens you will get free fertilizer for your flowers and veggies (the list of benefits keeps growing :-).
Before you begin you will need to understand the environment that you'll be raising your girls in. You need to give them enough space to roam, peck at everything and stretch they legs. Encouraging their natural feeding behaviors by using treats like FLYGRUBS is also something we encourage ;-)

Once your girls are no longer chicks, a balanced diet is key to healthy chickens and delicious eggs, so providing a healthy layer feed is key!  There are many brands that sell quality products but we love Scratch and Peck, the most. 

Get the coop that is suitable for your space. You can build one or buy one. They even sell coops on Amazon.com these days!
Letting your girls roam free is ideal but please make note of all the potential predators! We strongly suggest that you also get a chicken run so your girls stay safe while enjoying your backyard.

Make sure you understand the number of chickens your city or municipality ordinances allows before you purchase your birds. It’s typical for cities to only allow 3-5 chickens and no roosters! Know the rules before you spend your hard-earned cash!

What are the downsides? - Well, depending on your space and experience there can certainly be some, but I think that’s for another blog :-)

All the best, Emily

Is Your Garden Chicken Proof?

In the 3rd part of the free-ranging blog series, we must ask ourselves an important question. Do my chickens help or hurt my garden? I believe the answer is yes, to both questions. 

If you’re growing shallow root plants like young perennials and annuals, your chickens are going to cause more harm than good. Chicken’s love to dig around in the dirt for bugs and will show disregard for 100% of your plants when they see some delicious critters. But if it’s the beginning of the growing season and your garden needs a till then your girls can be a huge asset. They will also poop all over the place and enrich the soil, naturally!! So in summation, chickens eat insects, give us some great soil and in return give us eggs. But we keep ours out of our gardens to avoid unnecessary damage to our veggies and fruits. 

So what are we to do? We all love to see our birds roaming free in the yard, enjoying the freedom to peck as any and everything their curiosity brings them too unless it’s our other love… THE GARDEN! There is a lot of hard work that goes into growing a resource for your family to enjoy. Those cherry tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, cauliflower, and other delightful veggies can be gobbled up by many a wild animal but it’s just not cool when the flock gets in there too. I mean, we love our girls but this is where I draw the line. So how do we chicken proof our garden? I have listed all the steps that I went through below, but I’m sure I overlooked some, so please share your thoughts with me in the FLYGRUBS facebook comments. 

We first like to identify the plants that are young vs those that are more established with deep roots and will not be affected by our flock. The ones that are sensitive to interactions with chickens will be protected with wire mesh or cloches. We want to make sure the chickens are unable to eat the leaves or scratch the base of the plants. We also protect all our fruit and veggie plants from chickens, no matter their maturity. Chickens are no stranger to plucking squash (a staple in our garden)  and tomatoes until they are destroyed and we want to avoid that from happening. 

One trick we learned over the years is to put the coop in the shaded part of that yard. Although the girls love to sunbathe, when it gets hot they seek shelter and we want to make sure that shelter is in the coop and not in the middle of our garden. 

Spices can be a natural repellent to keep chickens away from our gardens. All types work well - cinnamon, garlic, and pepper, salt, mixed spices with prices, cayenne pepper. Limes and lemons can help and they don’t like the smell. 

Supervising your girls (easier said than done) so they don’t investigate areas of your garden that they could potentially destroy is another prevention method. This usually isn’t an issue if you are out in the yard with them, but if you’re in the house doing something else, it’s simply not possible. So using the above protection methods is highly recommended. 

In the fall - let your girls free range around the whole garden - this will help to fertilize the soil for next summer :-)


FREE-Ranging...Is your flock safe?

Welcome back to part 2 of our free-ranging series. In this blog, we want to go over some of the basic protection methods for your free-ranging flock. We will discuss the day and nighttime prevention methods that we use here at FLYGRUBS HQ. Remember to identify the predators in your backyard and design your protection methods around preventing those specific rascals from hurting your flock. 

Domestic dogs are probably the biggest fan of daytime attacks, but mink, foxes and weasels aren’t scared of attempting daytime hist.  Aerial attacks often come from falcons, hawks, and owls. Raccoons, opossums, and skunks love to attempt their attacks at night. The blow tips are where you should start building your protection checklist to reduce/prevent predation.

Train your girls to come back into the coop at night. You can accomplish this by raising young chicks inside the coop to get them familiar with their safe area. As long as the coop is vermin free you should be all set. Just double-check to be 110% sure it’s closed up at night.

When you build your chicken run, you must take the time to make sure it’s parameters are secure. Welded wire mesh with small holes (1 x 2 inch) is what we use to keep our flock in and predators out. Taller is typically better just to make sure you can keep out predators that have up to a 4 foot vertical (coyotes and bobcats).

What about aerial predators like owls, hawks, and falcons? The best way to keep these predators out is to use poultry netting or game bird netting to discourage those animals from attacking the flock. 

What about predators that dig under the mesh? We suggest installing the wire mesh up to a foot under the ground depending on how aggressive those predators can be. If you don’t want to go through the trouble to dig underground, you can also place chicken wire around the outside of the chicken run so that when the intruders start to dig they will feel the wire and be dissuaded from continuing to dig.  

Motion sensor lights can be another great prevention method for all nocturnal predators. Once they step foot into the chicken's living area it will be flooded with light and spook any invader from continuing to hunt. For example, white birds tend to stand out more than birds of a different color. The wary, high strung, excitable, so-called flighty breeds like the Leghorn and Lakenvelder are more likely to react faster to intruders then more docile breeds.

Well, that is all for now. Please share your ideas in the comments below. 

All the best, 

Emily