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WRAL SmartShopper

Reader needs advice about raising chickens

Posted June 19, 2013


One of our blog readers is thinking about getting chickens for the fresh eggs. If you have any experience raising chickens for this purpose, please help answer her questions. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

Here is the e-mail she sent:

"Do any of you keep chickens? I've seen a cost break-down, and after the initial investment in a coop/run, the ongoing cost per dozen eggs works out to be about $1.40 a dozen, but that's assuming you buy all your feed. You can reduce your feed cost supplementing with table scraps (they're omnivores, so they'll eat those bits of meat your kid dropped on the floor in addition to vegetable scraps) and some yard waste (chickens apparently love dandelions and will gladly eat the half a tomato the squirrels left on the vine), what would otherwise be waste, and they eat insects as well.

If you keep chickens, do you have any regrets or things you would have done differently? Any breed recommendations? Is the feed cost reasonable?

I'll be honest, the idea of cheap, high quality, super fresh eggs in my backyard appeals to me greatly.

Note: I am aware of the legal requirements (which vary town to town) regarding chickens where I live, and I fully intend to operate within the confines of the law."


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  • common tater Jun 23, 2013

    We also had chickens as kids, and thought about building a coop. But we have had 2 outdoor rabbits in the backyard, and one was killed by a snake this year, and the other one almost (spotted the snake trying to get in). Not sure why the snake problem all of a sudden, but we will probably not try to attract more to our small back yard. The smell was also a concern on our small lot.

  • josephwilm Jun 22, 2013

    Go for it. I raised chickens for 6 years in elementary school,also raised guinea fowls. Buy chicken feed! it is cheap! The chickens must be protected from dogs!also the wings must be clipped regularly or they will fly away. I grew up in wilmington nc on south 4th street between castle and queen. The Todds who had a store on castle street between 6th and seventh had a horse in the back yard.

  • batey3 Jun 20, 2013

    I love having my birds! I started keeping chickens about 12 years ago. Still have 2 original birds. I grew up behind Crabtree Mall so once I moved to a more rural area, the first thing I did was get chickens. Never looked back. Can't imagine life w/out them. I have 11 large breed hens and 2 bantam cockerels (baby roos) right now (Light Brahma and Dark Brahma). I love the crow so I want a roo. Mine have a 10X12 building with a HUGE yard that they live in and it's a good distance from our house so being awakened in the morning by a roo crowing is not an issue for us. Feed cost has gone up quite a bit since I started keeping birds but they are my pets so I pay what's required to keep them. I feed Purina Layena in the pellet form (less food waste than w/ the crumbles). As for breeds, I currently have 4 Ameraucana (which are actually more like Easter Eggers really), 3 Brabanter, 2 Salmon Faverolle, 1 Welsummer and 1 Silver-Laced Wyandotte. The EEs are prob my favorites. Always have them.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jun 20, 2013

    This has been so interesting to read. My thanks to everyone who posted about their chicken experiences. Although I did not ask the question about raising them originally, I have found this thread really educational. I can't have chickens in my subdivision anyway, but even if I could, I am not sure I would make the effort. LOL

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 20, 2013

    I grew up on a farm, so having chickens in the back yard has no appeal to me whatsoever. If you live in a neighborhood where houses are on an acre or less, your neighbors will hate you. I was thrilled when the law enforcement officer living next door to me moved. Hearing a rooster crow at 5:00 a.m. was no fun at all. Nasty, nasty, nasty...don't go in with no shoes if you do it.

  • luvstoQ Jun 20, 2013

    Raising back yard chickens IS NOT a money maker if you take into account all your expenses ( chicken run, house, etc). With us it was the enjoyment and having them as pets - eggs were just a bonus. Personally, I cannot tell the difference in the taste of back yard eggs or store bought (the looks are different). It is definitely a lot of commitment and work, plus you cannot leave them for long at a time. The 'predators' are horrible - chickens are very vulnerable and dependent.

  • amystanley01 Jun 20, 2013

    I currently have 10 chickens and they are wonderful! I have two breeds of chickens Rhode Island Reds and Black-Sex Links; of the two I like the Rhode Island Reds the best. They are beautiful chickens not to mention friendly and great egg layers. Like the others have mentioned predators can be a problem. When I first got my baby chicks a black snake had one for snack, however put up some extra chicken wire and have not had a problem since. There are also only 2 of us in my household but sometimes I sell them to my coworkers or neighbors for 2.00 a dozen. I have somewhat of an elaborate chicken house with 6 boxes so I am sure i'm still in the red as far as the money goes but they provide me great satisfaction even without making money. I would recommend anyone who is interesting in raising chickens to do it.. They are wonderful pets and help their own cause. If anyone would like to see my chicken coop or want more details I will be glad to provide it. :)

  • jdouglas13 Jun 20, 2013

    Predators? Snakes? Call me a wimp, but our recent horror show with the mouse in the BBQ grill just about put me over the edge. I REALLY don't think I'm up to even that again, much less worse! I also want to say how much I admire those of you who do raise chickens. It doesn't sound easy, and I give you all a lot of credit!

    I think I'll stick with buying the eggs for special treats from the chicken lady in the neighborhood.

  • meredith88 Jun 20, 2013

    Faye, their fresh eggs taste sooo much better than store bought! They even taste better than the "fresh" brown eggs at the store. The difference is mainly in the flavor and color of the yolk. I can tell the biggest difference when we have sunny side up and you can really taste the yolk.

    We price ours at $3 a dozen because most vendors at the Farmer's Market sell theirs for $4 a dozen or more. Since we only sell to family and friends who already only buy fresh, local eggs we give them a price break from what they would be paying. We do sell to a couple people who buy them because they know the chickens are well cared for and like having the peace of mind.

    My husband wanted fresh eggs every day and I refused to pay $4 a dozen so we got the chickens and now we make money on our fresh eggs :) It has worked out great for us but I'm sure it's not for everyone.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jun 20, 2013

    Here is a comment from Marilyn on our Smart Shopper Facebook page: "Start up expense for us was about $450. We are currently building a full 14 x 14 ft enclosed run, another $400. We have had predators. : (
    Now after reading the posts, I am paranoid about snakes. Luv our chickens and think of them like pets, the eggs are just an extra treat. Easy to care for but we only have 3. It is not cost effective if the eggs are your only goal. We shop at tractor supply store and give mostly feed because it is healthier for them. Chickens do not lay eggs forever. Will you keep them after they stop laying?"