Poultry Grit: Your Questions Answered!

Poultry Grit: Your Questions Answered!

Chickens don’t have teeth. To help them digest their food, owners must provide their hens and roosters with poultry grit. 

Mainly made of crushed granite, it helps the chicken grind down their food while in the gizzard, the part of their stomach where food and grit are mixed together with all the acids and digestive enzymes. This process allows for the breakdown and absorption of the nutrients chickens need to be healthy.   

Many free-range chickens get the grit they need from small stones and rocks while foraging for food. But if your flock doesn’t free range, it can be difficult for the chickens to access the poultry grit they require, especially when they’re kept in fenced enclosures. For this reason, you should introduce one of the numerous varieties available of chicken grit substitutes into your flock´s daily diet.

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of poultry grit available, their quality, and their advantages.  

Grit and Oyster Shells Aren’t The Same

Grit is small stones that chickens naturally pick up. They’re important for digestion, and help chickens break down their food. Sometimes, you’ll see oyster shells referred to as grit on the Internet. While oyster shells can perform some digestive activities that grit does, these two things aren’t the same.

Oyster shells are an important source of calcium, and you should feed it so your hens lay eggs with thick shells that don’t break easily. However, it will be digested eventually, whereas rock grit will stay in your chicken’s digestive system until it’s pooped out.

Grit, on the other hand, is usually granite, and doesn’t provide any nutrients or minerals. However, because they aren’t digested, they will remain in your flock’s digestive system longer. Stones are also stronger, and better at helping break down food. It’s best to offer both of these important supplements to your chickens to help them be as healthy as possible. Now that we got that clear, let’s talk about the different types of poultry grit available.

There’s 5 Types of Poultry Grit

Small stones found in nature

Yep, if you’re on a budget or just want to use materials already available to you, then you can go collect a bunch of small stones and make them available free choice. Stones smaller than a pea are best (about the size of an elderberry). You want to make sure your chickens can swallow them! If you don’t want to search for stones, then you have commercial options listed below.

Chick grit/Flint grit

It’s very tiny and thin flakes of crushed granite. It is used for grinding down food and helping chickens, ducks, and other poultry with their digestive processes. You typically see this type for baby chicks, and used in quail grits and turkey grits because the stones are small and easy for chicks to swallow. Smaller flakes are less useful for adults.

Granite grit

This is probably what you’ll see when you look for poultry grit at your local farm store. It’s larger pieces of granite that are the perfect size for adult chickens to swallow. You can offer this granite grit free choice or mix it with your flock’s feed. Your chickens will pick up the stones as they need them.

Oyster shell grit

As mentioned above, this isn’t the same type of poultry grit as granite grit, but it can still help your flock breakdown food in their gizzard. Unlike rocks, it will eventually break down in their digestive system. This type of grit is mainly made of ground up oyster shells and it is a great source of calcium to help chickens develop stronger egg shells.

Mixed poultry grit

Because these 2 types of grit described above behave in different ways in the chicken gizzard, one is soluble and the other one is not, they can be mixed together to allow for a greater benefit.

Poultry grit with probiotics

Lately, a lot of commercial companies have started adding probiotics to oyster shells. Probiotics are always a good idea – studies show that chickens with healthy digestive systems are healthier overall, weigh more, have better food absorption, and lay better eggs.

4 brands of poultry grit

The purchase of chicken grit can be quite affordable nowadays, and doesn’t need to break your bank. To choose the best option for your flock, first of all, it is important to understand the different types of grit available and what specific benefits they can offer to your chicken and their needs. 

We have done the homework for you, so let´s have a look at some of the best considered brands and varieties of poultry grit you can buy and which will not cost you a fortune:

Manna Pro Poultry Grit

This poultry grit is made of insoluble crushed granite, and it has been specially created to aid your chickens with a thorough digestion. Additionally, it comes in a handy 25lb bag. For more detailed information and to buy this product click here.

Nest Herbs With Oyster Shells

If you want to provide your flock with oyster shells, then this product makes it easy. Chickens love it! The oyster shells are the perfect size for hens, and the aromatic herbs make their coop a more relaxing place to lay eggs. You can buy this product here.

Purina Chick Grit

Ideal for chicks, young turkeys and game birds of up to 10 weeks of age. The crushed granite has been sized smaller, making it easier to swallow for chicks and helping them to support a healthy digestion. You can purchase Purina Chick Grit here.

Cherry Stone Poultry Grit

By Cherry Stone, this poultry grit has been specially designed to enable a more efficient digestive process. It is made of 100% crushed quartzite, which is harder and sharper than granite. To buy Cherry Cherry Stone Grit click here.

Is sand good poultry grit?

While you might hear that sand is a good poultry grit substitute, it’s not. Because it’s very fine, and absorbs water, sand can clump together in the crop and digestive system, causing sour crop or an impact. Larger stones will pass through the digestive tract better.

How much poultry grit should I feed my chickens?

In most cases, you can offer it free choice and let your flock decide when they need it. Put the poultry grit in a separate container from the food. A small bowl, chicken feeder (check out my recommendations here) or poultry grit feeder will work just fine. Check on the feeder regularly, and top off as needed.

Can I feed my chick the same grit as the adults?

No. You should feed chicks a type of grit specifically created for their size. Otherwise, your chicks might not eat it, or they might choke or become impacted because the stones are too large. Most commercial chick grits will say on the package that they’re for younger poultry. You can introduce adult sized grit at about 16 weeks. Until then, providing the chicks with a high quality starter chicken feed will suffice. 

I hope this poultry grit guide has helped you decide which type is best for you and how to feed it so your chickens are as healthy as possible!

Best Chicken Waterer: A Buyer’s Guide

Best Chicken Waterer: A Buyer’s Guide

We all know hens need water….but do you know what’s the best chicken waterer to make sure your fluffy butts are safe?

 

A good chicken waterer can make or break your flock. During the summer, it needs to provide consistent access to cool water to avoid heat stroke. In winter, it needs to be tough, so it doesn’t freeze over.

 

In this article, we’ll explore the various options available for chicks and adult hens. Chicken waterers are the easiest and best way to water chickens, regardless of season OR flock size.

 

The best chicken waterer we recommend:

 

The best chicken waterer for summer:

The best chicken waterer for winter (to keep water from freezing):

Why do I need a chicken waterer?

In short, because chickens need consistent access to water. Without it, they’ll become dehydrated, sick, and eventually, they’ll die. Waterers also let you keep track of your flocks liquid intake. This is especially important on hot days, or if they seem sick or stop laying eggs.

And if you want to provide herbs to your flock, soaking the herbs in water makes it easier to ensure all your hens get the benefits.

 

Chicken water feeders, or drinkers, come in a variety of sizes and shapes – what’s most important is that the waterer is safe, can hold enough water to last your chickens all day, and that your flock can’t knock it over and dump the contents everywhere.

 

How many chicken waterers do I need?

It’s best to have 1 waterer for every 5 chickens, especially during the summer (very hot climates might want to have 2+ waterers per chicken, especially if you’ll be gone all day.) If you have less than 1 waterer per 5 chickens, you will probably have to fill it up more frequently. If you use a automatic chicken waterer system like nipples, you just need to make sure there’s enough water in the system for all your chickens.

 

Different Kinds of Chicken Waterers

There’s different options with waterers and chicken water drinkers, and it’s best to know all the available options so you can pick the right one for your flock. (You can also check out the best chicken feeders I recommend here.)

 

There’s several kinds of waterers:

  • Mason jar waterers
  • Plastic waterers
  • Stainless steel waterers
  • Nipple waterers
  • Pet bowls
  • Drinker cups

 

Mason jar waterers

These are perfect for chicks, and they’re relatively inexpensive. They’re not the best for adults, however, because they don’t typically hold enough water. You will have to clean them daily, otherwise mold and moisture build up on bottom of the waterer, and form a gnarly bacteria culture.

 

Plastic waterers

These are an affordable option, and they’re also easy to clean. Sometimes they hold enough water for chickens, especially if you have a flock of 1-5 chickens. They’re also good for bantam chicken flocks. For larger flocks, however, they typically don’t hold enough to last all day. Like the mason jar waterers, you need to clean these daily.

 

Stainless steel waterers

These tend to be bigger than plastic waterers, but the same issue applies. They’re usually not big enough to accommodate flocks of 10 or more chickens (although you can use more than one waterer). They’re also usually heavier, so they’re harder for hens to knock over (which is a good thing). This is one of the easiest to use for all chicken breeds.

 

Nipple waterers

These systems make watering chickens very easy, and it keeps the water cleaner than the options above. Typically, the water supply is housed in a barrel, and the water automatically fills the nipples. Your chickens can then get a drink whenever they want.

 

The downside is that:

  • they’re sometimes hard to clean,
  • don’t provide a lot of water at once,
  • have a learning curve for your flock,
  • and tend to be more expensive.

 

Pet bowls

Yep, you can use a large canine pet bowl for your chickens – they work great. They’re durable, easy to clean, and can hold a lot of water. There’s nothing that says you need to spend a lot! (You can learn about other costs of owning a chicken here.)

 

These are also great if you need cheap or DIY chicken feeder ideas.

 

One downside is that your chickens can easily tip them over (you can always place rocks in them), and the water can get dirty very easily. 

 

Drinker cups

These are a type of automatic waterer that fills a drinking cup at eye level whenever your chickens are thirsty. They’re easy to set up and for chickens to learn to use. One downside is a lot of them aren’t very deep (so your chickens won’t get a lot of water per swallow) and they can freeze during winter.

 

How Much Water Does A Chicken Drink?

On average, chickens drink about a quart of water daily – so your waterers should be able to hold enough to keep each member of your flock happy. Using an automatic chicken waterer is the easiest way to make sure your flock has enough to drink. If your chickens become dehydrated, they can become sick or they might not lay eggs as efficiently.

 

What Should A Chicken Waterer Be Made Of?

Your chicken waterer can be made of several different materials:

  • Plastic,
  • Rubber, and/or
  • Stainless steel

There’s advantages and disadvantages to each option.

 

What’s better, plastic, rubber, or stainless steel?

On a grand scale, all are equally just as good – so when deciding on the best chicken waterer for your flock, choose the material that works best for your situation.

 

Plastic is always going to be easier to clean, especially in crevices. Rubber tends to shred, or get marks on it where bacteria can hide. It’s important to note, however, that plastic is less durable, and more likely to be cracked than rubber or stainless steel.

 

However, in winter, rubber tends to freeze less than plastic or metal. With a stainless steel chicken waterer, it’s important to take note that in the winter it can freeze faster, so if you don’t use a water heater, plastic or rubber is the better choice to go with.

 

With rubber heater buckets they tend to be black, this is so they’ll attract heat, and make the frozen water melt faster. (You can learn more about how to keep chicken water from freezing here.)

 

These are a type of solar heated chicken waterer – so using a rubber ground feeder, you can make your own diy heated chicken waterer. Amazon has good options, and there are many tutorials and resource material available on the internet to make a chicken waterer diy.

 

Watch this video for more information:

 

 

Do Chickens Need An Automatic Waterer?

Your flock doesn’t necessarily need an automatic waterer, but it can make it easier to ensure that your chickens have access to water all the time. This is especially during the summer, when heat stroke can take its toll (learn more about how to keep chickens cool here).

 

On average, a mature chicken can drink approximately 1 quart of water each day in temperatures from 40 – 75, and even more in hot weather. They’ll also tend to drink more in winter, when the air is drier, so if you live in an area with long winters, consider investing in a 1 gallon heated chicken waterer.


In the winter, if you have an automatic waterer make sure that it will work in sub-freezing temperatures.

 

This is the automatic waterer we recommend:

 

What Size Chicken Waterer Is Best?

For adult chickens, it’s best to get 1 waterer per 5-6 chickens, and possibly more if you have flock bullies. Especially during summer, it’s important to make sure everyone can access water. You’ll need a waterer that holds about 1-2 gallons, if you have a flock of 5-6 chickens.

 

For day old chicks, a mason waterer is best. It holds enough water, and is shallow enough so your chicks won’t drown.

 

If you have adult chickens or chickens over 16 weeks, a 5-gallon bucket waterer is perfect – just make sure to turn it into an automatic waterer like in this video. While it’s tempting to just put the 5 gallon bucket in the coop, it’s too deep, and your chickens might fall in and drown.  

 

 

Should I Use A Nipple System For My Chickens?

Many people are happy with a chicken water feeder that includes nipples. They do have to be set up, but are handy devices designed to give water to chickens with minimal mess. Make sure your flock can get enough water, and also remember to hang it just a few inches above ground so your chickens can reach it. To hang it, use a stud or 2×4 board, since the waterer tends to be heavy..

 

In winter, these aren’t the best choice because they’re typically made with metal, which can freeze easily.

 

Should I Use Drinker Cups?

Using drinker cups might be the best chicken waterer system for your flock since it’s an easy and affordable automatic system. Remember to check the depth of the cups – in some cases, they aren’t deep enough for an adult chicken to get enough water. These are great for chicks, though, because they prevent the baby chicks from falling into the water and drowning.

 

Also, make sure any pipes in the drinker cup system are easy to clean or replace when they’re dirty. It’s important to prevent bacteria from forming and harming your flock.

 

Should I Use A Water Heater In Winter?

You can use a heated chicken waterer, just make sure it’s safe and won’t cause a fire. In Southern areas of the USA, it’s not really necessary as long as temperatures don’t get below freezing (especially during the day).  Plastic or rubber are also the least likely to freeze. (You can learn how to keep water from freezing with this trick – it also works for heated duck waterers too).

 

In some areas of the US, you likely will have to use a water heater, especially if temps in your area are consistently under 32 degrees F. Insulated chicken waterers are another option, however, even they will freeze eventually.

 

If you do use a water heater, it’s best to not use an extension cord because this can spark a fire. Always plug directly into a socket, and frequently check the cord to make sure it’s in good condition.

 

Where Can I Buy Chicken Waterers:

 

The Top Waterers On Amazon

Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker  3.5 Gallon

This Harris Farms chicken waterer has the capacity to hold a 3.5 gallon of water, it’s durable and easy to fill with a twist-lock system that comes with a hanger/carry handle.

 

LITTLE GIANT Automatic Waterer, 5 Quart

Created by Little Giant, this easy to assemble and clean automatic waterer can hold up to 5 quarts of water providing a continuous flow of fresh water for adult poultry. The automatic float controls the water level to ensure that there is no spilling or overflow. The cover prevents roosting and keeps debris out of the water and it has a 0.75-inch hose that attaches to a standard garden hose.

 

Miller Manufacturing 740 Mason Jar Water Base

Designed by Miller Manufacturing, this plastic base waterer is perfect for poultry and game birds. It’s molded from shock resistant polystyrene and fits a model 690.

 

5 Gallon Chicken Waterer – Horizontal Side Mount Poultry Nipples

Created by RentACoop, this chicken waterer has the capacity to hold 5 gallons and is made from 100% food grade and BPA free plastic. The horizontal nipples prevent the ground/bedding from getting wet and comes with a no-roost cone to keep the lid clean and bacteria free. It comes in complete setup no assembly required!

 

RentACoop Automatic Chicken Water Nipple Cup Waterer Kit for Poultry

Created by RentACoop, this automatic chicken waterer doesn’t need tabs to push and the cups are always half full! It’s a solution for clean water for ducks, geese, turkeys, and an innovative chicken water drinker.  Watch this video to see how it works:

 

 

 

Royal Rooster Chicken Poultry Twin Waterer with Automatic Valve Operated Cup

Designed by Royal Rooster, this twin waterer is a no-mess solution to water your chickens or ducks! It’s easy to fill and clean and hooks straight onto mesh or attach to the wall with brackets.  It has the capacity of 1-gallon cup style drinker (suits 4-6 chickens/ducks), 20” tall, UV stable, durable PVC plastic, Australian made quality.

 

Premier Chick Nipple Waterer

Created by Premier, this nipple waterers has a 1-liter capacity that sits or hangs above the litter so water is always clean. It’s ideal for easy clean-up and a no-mess solution to giving waterers to chickens.

 

Farm Innovators Model HPF-100 “All-Seasons” Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain, 3 Gallon

Designed by Farm Innovators, this is by customer demand one of the best chicken waterer on Amazon. It’s a premier one chicken waterer that has the capacity to hold 3 gallons and it prevents water from freezing down to 0-degree F due to it being thermostatically controlled. It’s an all-around heated duck waterer and one of the most well reviewed heated chicken waterer Amazon has.

 

Premier Chick Nipple Drinker with Wall Bracket

Created by Premier, this 1-liter nipple drinker can sit or hang above the litter to ensure that water is clean and fresh, comes with a wall bracket for hanging on a brooder or coop wall. The lightweight wire hanging bracket is also included with the nipple waterer for attachment to the cage.

 

Muddy Hill Farm Sideways Sipper Horizontal Drinker Nipple – Spring Action, No drip, Side Mount, Poultry Nipple Drinker

Designed by Muddy Hill Farm, this sipper uses a horizontal drinking nipple to ensure no drips and leaks, unlike vertical nipples. Easy to install with its unique wing-like shape, just drill a ⅜” hole in your plastic container and screw in the Sideways Sipper Horizontal Poultry Drinker Nipple.

 

How To Clean A Waterer

How Do You Clean A Chicken Waterer?

To clean a chicken waterer:

  1. Soak the entire waterer in hot water
  2. With a stiff cleaning brush, gently scrub away dirt and bacteria.
  3. You can also use a gentle soap (make sure you get all the soap out of the waterer after scrubbing).
  4. If you don’t want to use soap, you can use hot water and white vinegar instead.
  5. Make sure all residue is cleaned off the waterer before returning it to your chicken coop.

It is important to clean your chicken water dispenser often. because nasties like bacteria, dirt, or algae can contaminate your flock’s water. In some cases (like stainless steel or nipples), you might also notice rust buildup on your waterer. Clean your vessel monthly with a brush, hot water, and a gentle dish soap. If you do not want to use soap, you can use white vinegar instead (we use this when cleaning our chicken incubators to get rid of bacteria.)

 

Is Bleach Harmful To Chickens?

In large quantities, it’s poisonous. Because chickens are so much smaller than humans, they feel the effects of bleach fumes more than we do. When cleaning your chicken waterers, it’s best to steer clear of bleach and use milder options.

 

How Much Vinegar Do You Put In Chicken Water?

If you want to clean your waterer with vinegar, use 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water. Be sure to clean your waterers with hot water, and use a stiff brush to scrape away dirt and buildup. If you want to give your chickens apple cider vinegar in their water, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 gallon of water, and add the mixture to their water dispenser.

 

How Do I Keep Algae Out Of My Chicken Waterer?

To keep algae out of chicken water:

  1. Keep your waterers out of the sun
  2. Clean them frequently
  3. Use a fountain, or other waterer that’ll keep water moving

 

Algae grows in standing water that’s in sunlight. So, to keep your flock’s water algae-free, make sure to keep their waterer out of direct sunlight, and clean them frequently. Since algae grows in standing water, you can also use a fountain since the moving water makes it harder for algae to grow.

 

Can Chickens Drink Water Out Of A Bowl?

Yes – large canine bowls (for great danes or irish wolfhounds, for example) are best. You can use just about anything that can hold liquid to give water to your chickens. Some common devices to keep hens from flipping over their water bowl are halves of tires, tip-over pails, rocks, and tubs.  

 

Can Chickens Drink Cold Water?

Yes. Chickens like drinking nice cool water. During summer months, you can provide cool water for most of the day by putting a block of ice in their waterer in the morning. Even in the winter, chickens will prefer cool water over hot.

 

Do Chickens Need Lots Of Water?

The average chicken drinks about 1 quart of water a day. So, you will need to provide enough water to satisfy your entire flock. You’ll also need to check their water intake in winter to make sure they’re drinking enough – otherwise, they might become dehydrated.

 

How Much Water Do Chickens Need A Day?

A typical full-grown laying hen will on average need a quart of water on a daily basis, however, this varies on the size of the hen, seasons, and outdoor temperature. Do not limit a chicken’s water because having an inconsistent supply of water will stop them from laying eggs and their health will deteriorate.

 

Do Chickens Need Water Inside Their Coop?

Yes, especially if they stay in a coop and/or run full time. Even though chickens don’t drink once they roost, they’ll be up at the crack of dawn (since chickens see more colors than we do, they’re up earlier). They’ll want a drink as soon as they wake up and start moving. During summer, they might return to their coop because it’s shady. In winter, they might not want to leave to stay warm. So, it’s always a good idea to keep water in your chicken coop. You can learn about what your coop should include here.

 

Do Free Range Chickens Need Water?

Free range chickens are no exceptions – they still need an adequate amount of water for them to remain healthy. They need a clean, fresh water source in the garden or access to their waterer located in the chicken coop.

 

Can Chickens Go Without Water At Night?

Yes, because once night falls and they roost, chickens usually won’t want to eat or drink. However, it’s still a good idea to keep water in their coop. Once they wake up and start moving, they will want water.

 

How Long Can Chickens Be Without Water?

Chickens can be without water for a couple days, but it’s not recommended. To remain healthy and to lay eggs, chickens need full time access to water. Without it, they can become dehydrated and stop laying eggs. It can take several weeks for them to recover.

 

Will Chickens Drink Dirty Water?

Yes, they will. Chickens aren’t too picky. However, it’s not a good idea to give them dirty water. It can contain harmful bacteria or mold, or any other thing that can make your flock sick. It’s best to provide fresh, clean water at all times.

 

Will Antifreeze Kill Chickens?

Yes, antifreeze is poisonous to chickens. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic – it can take just a few drops to kill a chicken. It’s always best to keep your antifreeze away from your chickens (and other household pets).

 

Can I Put Apple Cider Vinegar In My Chickens Water?

Yes, chickens love apple cider vinegar, and it’s easiest to offer it to your flock in water. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 gallon of water. You can learn more about apple cider vinegar and chickens here.

 

Which do you think is the best chicken waterer? Leave a comment below!

How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken? Egg Cost Comparison

How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken? Egg Cost Comparison

Many beginners wonder “How much does it cost to own a chicken?” And in this article, we’re going to talk specifics about how chicken keeping can effect your wallet.

 

Like many things in life, you can make chicken keeping as expensive or inexpensive as you want.

 

Now, just how much does it cost to own a chicken? It is important to take into account the kinds of things you’ll spend money on and the ongoing costs that come with having a backyard full of fluffy butts.

 

Here’s your “chicken cost calculator” guide!

 

How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken?

For 5 chickens:

  • Regular feed typically costs about $30 per month, non-GMO feed about $150 per month
  • A coop can cost from $1 to $2,000
  • Bedding costs about $20 per month
  • Feeders & waterers cost about $5 each
  • Baby chicks cost about $5, adult chickens cost $1 to $30 on average

 

You can read more about the bedding I recommend here.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Chicken?

Buying a baby chicken can cost anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars (for purebred breeding-quality chickens). On average, though baby chicks should cost less than $5 for most chicken breeds. The specific cost depends on a variety of factors, such as the sex of the chicken (females usually cost more than males), how rare the breed is (rare breeds cost more), and if it is a hybrid chicken (like an Easter Egger). Started pullets, which are young female chickens that are about 4 weeks old,, cost on average $15 to $25 each. Laying hens can cost anywhere from $10 (for mixed breeds) to $100 (purebred from a hatchery). Certain breeds, like the all black chicken Ayam Cemani, can cost up to $5,000!

 

  • Baby chicks: Starting at $1, averaging about $5
  • Started pullets (4 weeks – 16 weeks): About $15 – $25
  • Laying Hens: About $10 to $100, depending on breed

 

Here’s where to buy baby chicks and started pullets. If you only want female chickens (pullets), then learn how to sex baby chicks here. Layers are easiest to buy in your local area.

How Much Does A Pullet Cost?

It depends on the breed, but started pullets are on average around $15 to $25, although this amount varies by location. If you purchase one from a hatchery, you will also need to pay shipping. It’s typically best to buy a started pullet in your local area.

 

How Do You Get Chickens In Your Backyard?

To start raising chickens in your backyard, first make sure you can have chickens! Otherwise, you might have a nasty surprise visit from your city/town officials, and, heartbreakingly, you might have to re-home your flock. If you’re sure it’s okay to have chickens, you will need to make sure all their basic necessities such as the coop (or brooder, if they’re chicks), feed, water, and etc are covered. You can learn more about what backyard chickens need here.  You can also find out where to buy baby chicks here.

 

If you want to hatch chicks from eggs (you can get eggs from a local dealer – just make sure the flock has a rooster), you’ll need an incubator, You can read about the best incubators I recommend here, and my favorite incubator here.

 

Where Can I Buy Egg Laying Chickens?

You can buy egg laying chickens at a hatchery, your local farm store (like Tractor Supply, Orschelns, Southern States, or Rural King, depending on your region), or from a local breeder. To find a local breeder, it’s best to ask at farm stores in your area, or look on Facebook for groups. If you want a specific breed, you can search Facebook for breeder groups. If you plan to use a hatchery, choose one near you – the chicks will be shipped overnight or 2 day priority. A hatchery close to you means the chicks will have less time in transit.

 

Here’s a list of recommended hatcheries that will ship chicks to you:

 

  • Cackle Hatchery (this is the hatchery I personally use)
  • Murray McMurray
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • Ideal Hatchery
  • My Pet Chicken
  • Stromberg’s Chicks
  • Freedom Ranger Hatchery

 

When purchasing chicks from a local farm store, be sure to note the welfare of the chicks – if they don’t look healthy, or their crates don’t look clean, DO NOT BUY!!

 

Feeding Chickens

How much does it cost to feed a chicken per month?

On average, it costs $0.15 to feed your chickens per day, with organic feed costing at around $0.60 per pound. For a flock of 5 chickens, you will likely spend less than $30 a month, if you feed a 16% layer feed found at local farm stores. For organic feed, you will spend more – about $150 per month. If you feed treats like black soldier fly larvae or mixed treats like BEE A Happy Hen (which is really popular), you need to factor those costs in as well. However, it doesn’t pay to be cheap – chickens are living creatures, and you will need to feed them well so they lay healthy eggs for you. I have a list of what chickens can eat here.

 

How much should I feed a chicken?

The amount to feed a chicken varies, however, on average, 1 chicken needs about ½ – 1 cup of feed daily. You can free feed your chickens (you can use one of the chicken feeders I recommend here) or put a meal out for them daily. Check their weight and general health frequently, and increase their feed if they need it. If you see them wasting a lot of feed, then decrease the amount you’re putting out for them (or use a no-waste chicken feeder).

 

Do chickens need herbal supplements?

While not strictly necessary, you can offer your flock herbal supplements (such as nesting herbs, or mixing herbs in their feed) to ensure that they will be at their optimum health – and a healthy immune system will protect them against common diseases. Remember that treating unhealthy chickens can impact your wallet and result in a lost flock member.

 

How much does a free range chicken cost?

If you plan to free range your chickens, you can save some money on their feed. However, it’s still advisable to feed them a 16% layer feed. For a flock of 5 chickens, you will likely spend less than $30 a month, if you feed a 16% layer feed found at local farm stores. If you want to feed your hens non-GMO feed, it typically costs about $150 per month. If you feed treats like black soldier fly larvae or mixed treats like PowerHen, you need to factor those costs in as well. If you want your chickens to lay eggs for you, then you’ll need to feed them well. Free range chickens might not get all the nutrients they need, or they might eat stuff that effects the nutritional value of their eggs. I have a list of what chickens can eat here. You can find a list of alternative feeds for chickens here, if you really don’t want to purchase chicken feed.

 

Buying Eggs vs. Keeping Chickens

Is it cheaper to have chickens or buy eggs?

If you simply want to save money, it’s cheapest to buy your eggs from a grocery store or allow your own flock to free range permanently. However, there’s other issues with both of those options. For starters, the industrial egg industry, being concerned with profits, typically does not provide their chickens with healthy, happy lives and there’s multiple animal welfare issues. Many of these chickens are killed or otherwise disposed of after 12 – 18 months. They’re usually confined to cages or very crowded living conditions. In some cases, they’re given antibiotics continuously, which does show up in their eggs. The quality of the eggs is poor. If you’re conscious of your food sources, or an animal lover, consider raising chickens yourself or getting your eggs from a local supplier, where you can be sure the animals are treated with respect.

 

Chickens that free range permanently tend to have happier lives than chickens that are kept by the egg industry. However, they tend to hide their eggs (which defeats the purpose of raising them for eggs), or stop laying eggs altogether. They might also become flighty, since they have to fend for themselves (since free range chickens aren’t typically provided secure coops and runs) against chicken predators.

 

Another option is to allow your chickens to feed off your compost pile, develop a mealworm breeding farm, or raise black soldier fly larvae (which can also feed off your compost pile). During spring, summer, and fall months, you can provide some type of free feed to your hens (through your compost pile) but the nutritional value of your eggs isn’t guaranteed, nor is the health of your flock.

 

Remember that once you have an established flock, keeping chickens is a relatively low cost because unlike other pets you can greatly profit from them since they produce food for you.

 

How many eggs does a chicken lay a day?

Chickens lay only one egg per day (unless they’ve laid an egg inside an egg – then technically, they’ve laid two. You can read more about abnormal eggs here.) Remember that there will be some days where they won’t lay eggs at all since a hen’s body take 24 – 26 hours to fully form one egg.

 

Chicken Coop Costs

How much does a chicken coop cost?

The chicken coop cost is typically around $200 to $2000 if you buy them from Amazon or another store.  You can build your own chicken coop for around $100 or less (for a very simple structure) or, if you can find pallets, you can build it for the cost of nails. You can find 55+ free chicken coop plans here and a list of free pallet barn plans here. You can also find a list of what your coop should include here. You can find reviews of different chicken wire options here.

 

These are the coops on Amazon that we recommend:

 

Is it cheaper to buy a coop or build one?

It depends primarily on the materials you use and the features your coop will have. Many low cost coops (around $200 – $300) are very cheap and will break after 1 or 2 years, regardless of what the manufacturer promises. In the long run, it’s cheaper to invest in a good coop or garden shed (that can be converted into a coop) or to build a coop yourself with good quality materials.

 

Remember that if you purchase a garden shed and convert it into a coop, you can always convert it back into a garden shed if you decide chickens aren’t for you – so this makes buying a good quality building worth the investment and it might increase your property value.

 

Keeping Chickens For Beginners

What are the best chickens for beginners?

Here’s a list of champion egg laying chicken breeds:

  • Cochins
  • Delaware
  • Easter Eggers
  • Jersey Giants
  • Marans
  • Rhode Island Reds

 

You can also read about more chicken breeds here.

 

Cochins

Cochins are a lot of fun to own because they’re hardy, lay brown eggs consistently, and enjoy human company. You can get a full-sized cochin or the bantam variety – and both have feathered feet! The bantams will eat less but will also lay smaller eggs. You can read about cochin chickens here.

Delaware

Delawares are excellent laying chickens that can produce up to 5 brown eggs per week. They’re cold hardy, distinctive looking, and friendly.

 

Easter Eggers

Great for beginners because they lay consistently of about 250 eggs per year – and you might even get blue eggs! (Or green, or pink…..it just depends on the genetics of the individual hen.) You can read more about Easter Eggers here and other blue egg laying breeds here. If you definitely want blue eggs, you can learn about Ameraucanas here and Araucanas here.

 

Jersey Giants

Jersey Giants are a heritage chicken breed, and also one of the largest purebred chickens in the United States. They’re great egg layers producing at around 200 eggs per year.

 

Marans

Marans are pretty quiet, disease-resistant, and are cold-hardy chickens that don’t require a lot of work. The hens lay chocolate-colored eggs (although how dark they are will depend on the individual chicken). They’re great layers producing approximately 250 per year.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds are another heritage chicken breed that’s pretty popular. They require little care (except for food, water, a clean coop, and vet care), but lay large brown eggs 4-5 times a week.

 

Is it hard to raise chickens for eggs?

No, but like any other pet, you need to ensure they’re safe, have access to food and water, and a clean home. They’re easier than dogs or cats because they can feed and water themselves (as long as you use a gravity feeder or a DIY chicken waterer that allows them to free-feed). And unlike dogs or cats, they don’t need to be let in and out of the house constantly.

 

It you’re concerned about the work, it’s best to start with 3 hens, and a small coop. You can always expand and build a bigger coop later. Chickens will produce eggs if they feel they are protected and are in a healthy and spacious environment. As long as you provide this, they should prove no trouble to raise for eggs.

 

Selling Chickens & Eggs for Profit

How much is a live chicken worth?

A live chicken will on average cost around $3 to $30 depending on the breed and age of the chicken. Here’s some general guidelines:

 

  • Baby chicks: Starting at $1, averaging about $5
  • Started pullets (4 weeks – 16 weeks): About $15 – $25
  • Laying Hens: About $10 to $100, depending on breed

 

How much is a full grown chicken worth?

A full grown chicken can cost at around $1 to $5,000 depending on the breed and sex of the bird. Barnyard mixes (chickens of unknown lineage) can cost $1 while prized breeds like Ayam Cemani can cost $5,000. Age is also a factor: hens that come from the egg laying industry might be 12 months old, but cost $1. Older hens might be less (or even free), while chicks that are 6 months old (so, just starting to lay eggs) might cost more because they have a lot of egg laying year left. So, best to do your research first in locking down your ideal bird, then calculate how much does it cost to own a chicken for your area.

 

Can I make money from eggs?

POssibly. This will depend on a variety of factors, including how much it costs to raise your chickens, what your chickens eat, and how much people will pay for eggs in your area. If you only sell a dozen eggs for $1, then it’s harder to turn a profit. But if you sell your eggs for $6 a dozen, then you’ll make money, as long as your chickens cost less than $6 to feed. It’s best to write a detailed spreadsheet of expenses, then base your cost per dozen eggs off that.

 

How much are baby chicks worth?

The average baby chick sells for $5, depending on the breed. Purebred and unusual breeds will sell for more (maybe $7 – $10), while mixed breeds will sell for $1 or $2. Chicks over 1 week typically sell for less, also (since farm stores don’t want to keep them longer than 1 – 2 weeks). If you’re planning to hatch eggs yourself, then you will want to sell the chicks “straight run,” and tell buyers you aren’t sure whether the chicks are hens or roosters. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll sell purebred or a hybrid chicken. Cost of a baby chick varies based on these factors.

 

Can I sell chicken feathers?

Yes, you can sell chicken feathers – there are even special birds bred for their feathers. Many chicken owners sell feathers on Ebay or Etsy. Feathers are usually sold by the pound.

 

Do you still wonder “How much does it cost to own a chicken?” Do you think chicken-keeping is for you?