How much does it cost to raise chickens?

Have you ever wondered exactly how much it costs to raise chickens? Not just a few chickens either, I'm talking a LOT of chickens. Like, say....80! Raising chickens isn't cheap, and I often see people complaining about how much chickens cost. So how much does it cost to raise chickens?

List of costs to raise chickens

Since I'm done doing my business taxes for the year I happen to have all these numbers handy. Some may surprise you, others may not. For example my bedding cost was much lower then I had thought it would be. Chicken feed was higher *sigh*. 

We didn't have any big expenses like new coops or incubators this year so this is a good example of a 'normal' year. I can't say for sure exactly how many chickens and guineas we had though, but the number always hovers somewhere near 80. 

So this is the summary of my poultry care expenses of 1 full year.

Cost of raising chickens

This picture shows the cost for feed and bedding. Now granted, I spent $137.91 of my feed costs on chick feed. I hatched around 600 chicks and not all of them left right away. I had to feed them while they were here, and that bill was much higher then I'd like it to be. 

This doesn't include the free bags of lettuce from a local restaurant, or countless loaves of stale bread and mushy fruit that neighbors gave us. It also leaves out kitchen scraps, what I gave them from the garden and the corn patch they decimated when they found a hole in the garden fence. Bad silkies!  

How much does it cost to keep chickens?

The bedding cost doesn't take into account the hay that was given to me by a neighbor or hubby's uncle. Probably about 6 bales in all. We didn't need any sand for the runs this year. I also switched to shredded newspaper as bedding in one of the coops in the fall, which of course was free. 

Most of the bedding cost went for wood shavings although some was spent on DE and barn lime. 

Our only major expense for equipment this year was running electric to 1 of the coops. The rest was simple repairs. No big expenses this year. Hay forks break, heat bulbs burned out and incubators needed new tubing. It was all simple stuff this year.

The true cost of raising a LOT of chickens

I logged 1,915 miles this year just driving to feed stores and poultry swaps. My auction trips account for 491 of those miles! That's a lot of driving! I guess that's the biggest problem with living in the middle of farm country, everything is so far away. 

Mileage can be cut down though by combining with other errands and of course if you're not going to auctions and swaps you wouldn't be driving as much, so your driving expenses probably won't be as high.

I didn't include electric expenses even though heat lamps and incubators were running for all but November & December. I could probably find a few other things to add in, but I'm all taxed out! 

I have to admit that every year I look at the numbers and think "I didn't think I spent that much" Then as I go through them I find they were almost all necessities. So there you have it! This is exactly how much it costs to raise 80 chickens for 1 year. 

As you can see, chicken keeping doesn't have to be expensive! Here are 20+ tips and tricks I use to save even  more money on chicken keeping!


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  1. What a great informative post, thank you for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  2. Thak you for the great insight into the cost of raising chickens! I bet though that the costs were offset with not having to purchase eggs (or meat if you do raise meat chickens). Do you sell any of your eggs or meat?

  3. Great information. Thank you! I'd like to know about your meat or egg sales too.
    Hope to see you again on the Homestead Blog Hop tomorrow.

  4. Great breakdown. Enjoying their fresh eggs must make the cost well worth it. Thank you for visiting The Maple Hill Hop this week!

  5. Great information, it would be nice to know the other side of the sheet. Like how many eggs or if you had income related to the chickens. Not because I'm being snoopy, just because I wonder if it is worth it to have more. We have 17 and I would like 30 but I am starting to realize that more may not necessarily be better.

  6. 80 Chickens is a lot. I bet you got a lot of eggs. We got only 5 right now and get about 4 eggs per day during the summer. I do it to teach my kids about life, but I think we brake even on the expense of the feed. Thanks for sharing.

  7. My two black silkies hatched out 12 peeps 10 days ago.
    I got the fertilized eggs from a friend. They are Austerlorps,
    8 are black with a white belly,4 are yellow, who knows what they are.
    I enjoy hatching my chicks more than buying 25 at one time.

  8. I have 45 hens and they forage alot of the time. They do get daily layer pellets and we get 30ish eggs a day give or take. I sell my eggs for 4$ a dozen and I sell out as fast as they lay. I make between 70 and 80 dollars a week on egg sales. I am going to get into hatching as most of my customers ask if I am selling any of my chickens!

  9. I enjoy your newsletter. the information you give is very helpful. I have 13 chickens and 16 ducks (love the duck eggs). I want to get into hatching and selling chicks. Is there a starter incubator that you could recommend?

    1. Awesome! I'm so glad that you like the newsletter! I started with a styrofoam incubator and it was fairly good, though it required constant monitoring and didn't always get the best hatch rate. Brinsea incubators are the best I've used and they are super simple to use, they are a little pricey though. Good luck!


    2. I think chickens can be a luxury expense or a break-even or better, depending on how you approach. Some people can build their own coops from scrap lumber, etc. Some don't bother to fence in a run. I had to pay for those things. Big initial expense.
      Organic food--big expense.

      A way I've found to substantially reduce their feed costs is to have a feeder they have to stick their heads in. I bought mine, but I've seen some people have made them out of PVC piping with an elbow on the end. I was amazed at how much this reduced the food costs. They were using (not necessarily consuming) more food as chicks than they do now as laying hens. Now there is almost no waste.

  10. That breaks down to less than $22 each for a year. Not bad for a pet that helps feed you. My cat probably costs that in one week and doesn't contribute to the grocery budget!!