How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

September is here…..which means it’s time to think about what to do in your chicken coop in September!

 

It’s pumpkin season, and there’s lots you can do in your coop this month! Help your flock stay healthy and keep your coop in top shape with these tips!

 

If it gets cold early in your area, do a final deep clean before cool weather sets in.

You won’t want to do it when the ground is frozen and you need 3 sets of gloves to stay warm. If you live in a temperate area, now is still the time to deep clean your coop before the days get shorter and you run out of time.

 

You can also decide if the deep litter method is for you.

silkie pullet backyard chicken

Double check windows/doors for tight seals during chilly fall nights

When the wind is howling and there’s freezing rain, those tight seals can mean the difference between life and death. Just double check all your windows and doors seal well, and if not, fix it.

 

Offer your flock pumpkin and/or pumpkin seeds every week. They’ll love the treat, and it’s super healthy for them!

Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals, and chickens LOVE to peck at it. The pumpkin seeds might (repeat, might) help your flock rid themselves of worms (studies are inconclusive, but it’s can’t hurt), or at the very least, provide a yummy distraction since bugs and leaves are dying off.

 

You can also make a pumpkin planter like this one, and offer it to your flock when you’re done with it. Just be sure not to paint it!

 

If you have chicks, double check your coop stays the right temperature at night.

This will depend on the age of your chicks – if they only have down or are partially feathered, they will need your help to stay warm.

 

If not, either fix it or come up with a plan to keep chicks warm enough until they’re fully feathered. Remember that heat lamps get very hot and can cause a fire, so avoid them.

 

Hang some fall wreaths or add fall flowers to window boxes

Fall is all about color – and adding a wreath or flowers to your window boxes can brighten up your surroundings and help your flock feel pampered.

 

Backyard chicken coop window

 

If your coop is painted, do a fresh coat before cool weather sets in so your coop looks bright and colorful when the leaves are gone.

Ditto above. When fall’s colors fade, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort to repaint your coop so it looks cheerful even when it’s grey outside.

 

Start adding even more protein to your flock’s diet with mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, or Fluffiest Feathers Ever!

If your flock is molting, a high protein diet will help their feathers regrow. High protein diets also make sure flocks are in great shape to battle the cooler weather. You can feed a high protein diet or treats full time, or just during the molting season.

 

Make a plan for how you’ll keep their water from freezing

It’s bound to happen if you live in a cool area – so now is the time to decide how you’ll prevent freezing, or at least keep fresh water consistently available.

 

Here’s my best ideas for keeping your chickens’ water from freezing.

 

Spend more time with your flock – soon, the weather will be cold and you won’t want to be outside as much.

Nuff said. Here’s a great treat you can make – it includes pumpkin seeds, sage, and more!

 

Add a light to your coop if you want eggs all winter.

As the days get shorter, your hens might stop laying. This is natural, but it’s okay to still want eggs all winter. If you do, then add a light to their coop.

 

If you don’t have power in your coop, you can use a solar generator or a battery powered light. The bulb should stay cool and be a daylight simulator. You can also use a timer to turn it automatically on and off.

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder Review

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder Review

For this review, Duncan’s Poultry sent us their 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder to test. It arrived quickly via UPS, and fully assembled inside the box.

 

Below are our first impressions and overall recommendation regarding this feeder!

 

(Want to see all the feeders we recommend?) 

 

Product Description

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder is a galvanized steel automatic feeder meant to be hung up on a wall of your coop. 

 

duncan's poultry 30 lb feeder for chickens

Official image from seller

 

The website claims the feeder will hold 30 pounds of a layer mash, crumbles, and (possibly) pellets. The main body is stainless steel colored, and the lid is galvanized steel painted red.

 

The feeder is 15 inches by 8 inches, with an 18 inch depth (so, you can fill 18 inches up with feed).

 

The feeder is $59 on Amazon, which makes it an affordable option for all budgets.

 

Where to buy the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder

You can purchase this feeder on Amazon right here. The feeder has gotten great reviews!

 

What the company claims

  • Holds 30 lbs of feed
  • 15 Inches wide
  • Will fit between the wall studs
  • Hinged lid that stays open while you refill it.
  • Integrated lip helps cut down on wasted feed.
  • Works great with crumbles, mash or pellets 
  • Made of heavy gauge galvanized steel.
  • 14″ Wide X 8″ Deep x 18″ Tall.
  • Comes Fully Assembled

 

Our experience

We were pleased with the look of the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder right out of the box – it certainly is made of galvanized steel (which makes the coop look nice!). The top is painted red, and there’s a “Duncan’s Poultry” logo on the front.

 

On the back were two cut outs for the screws. It made it REALLY easy to figure out how to hang the feeder. 

 

Sometimes, the construction of an object can make it harder to hang – they can prevent the object from sitting flush against the wall, and cause the object to wiggle or be unstable. In this case, the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder hangs very sturdily, and doesn’t wiggle.

 

We tested the feeder with 30 pounds of our layer feed. Duncan’s feeders DO hold that amount, which saves us a lot of time (since we don’t need to fill it every day), and I can sleep at night knowing that if I can’t get to the coop ASAP in the mornings, the chickens still have access to feed.

 

Hanging it took just a couple minutes, and we were up and running within 5 minutes. Filling it with layer feed was very simple, and easy for one person to handle.

 

The chickens took another 5 minutes to figure out how to find the feed, and it’s been smooth sailing since. We’ve refilled the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder every other day, or every 2 days, depending on how hungry the flock is.

 

The top stays open during the entire refilling process, and it’s easy to close once we’re done. It’s not easy for a non-human to get it open, and we’ve noticed that the goat hasn’t been able to knock it off the wall, which is a HUGE accomplishment.

 

Does the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder live up to its claims?

YES! This sleek and modern automatic chicken feeder saves space, came fully assembled, holds 30 pounds of feed, and the chickens love it! They immediately knew how to use it (even the 10 week old chicks!), and it stood up to the ultimate test of whether the goat could knock it over or disassemble it 

 

(Other products we’ve reviewed were trashed in 24 hours by the goat, so this is saying something about the quality of the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder!) 

 

What don’t we like

Clean up might be a bit tricky. Unless your coop floor is dirt, it’s not really the best idea to spray the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder inside the coop, so you will have to remove the feeder to spray it with a hose, or use cleaning wipes if you don’t want to remove it. 

 

There’s lots of little crevices, so be sure to pay attention to corners and lips where feed can get embedded and mold if not removed during cleaning.

 

Is it useful for chicken owners? 

We recommend this feeder for flock owners with less than 10 chickens in their flock. We’re impressed with how easy this feeder was to refill so our hens have consistent access to their mash. It’s a safe and time saving chicken feeder your flock will enjoy. 

 

If you have more than 10 chickens, purchase a second unit.

 

What to watch out for

If you have more than 10 chickens, it’s best to buy a second feeder. Because the width is only 15 inches, it’ll be difficult for every flock member to eat at the same time.

 

Note that if you want to use this with baby chicks (under 8 weeks), you will have to hang the feeder so it’s flush with the ground (which can attract bugs), and make sure the chicks know there’s feed in it. Because of this, we don’t recommend using it with chickens until they’re at least 10 weeks old.

 

There’s no cover for the lower lip where chickens eat from, so if vermin are an issue in your coop, they’ll get a free meal.

 

Summary

Duncan’s Poultry 30 pound hanging feeder lives up to its promises, and is a great addition to every coop. We give it 5 stars for design, usefulness, safety, durability, and ease of use! Our chickens use it daily and love it!

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden? Planning a Chicken Garden for All Seasons: Spring

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden? Planning a Chicken Garden for All Seasons: Spring

What can chickens eat in your garden? Well, plenty. But you have to grow something first! And luckily, this article will show you everything you can grow as treats for your backyard chickens and ducks!

I’ve invited my friend Julia of ReformStead.com to tell us how she transforms her garden into a chicken garden each year! Growing fruits and veggies for your chickens is easy – and it’s a great way to provide fresh produce to your flock!

Planting a Chicken Garden In Spring

Planting a garden is a great way to provide an abundance of fresh, healthy food for your backyard chicken flock. It’s easy to add some of your chicken’s favorites to the garden and grow them alongside your family’s vegetables.  All you have to do is harvest and feed them to your chickens once they are ripe. As a bonus, this can help you save money on your chicken’s feed bill. With a little planning, you can do your best to provide your flock with access to these fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.

What can chickens eat with tomatoes and hens

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden?

How to Plan & Grow a Seasonal Garden for Your Chickens

Planning a garden for your chickens doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s a good idea to have something green, or fresh, for them year-round. Pasture grass can serve this purpose during warmer seasons, however extra produce is still good for them in addition to pasture.

It’s also good to keep in mind that your chickens lay more eggs when the weather is nice, and that’s usually when you’ll harvest the most fresh vegetables. Greens high in omega-3’s, herbs, and any fresh garden produce is especially good to feed your chickens during this time (you can find a complete list of alternative feed for chickens here).

If you’re wondering “What can chickens eat from the garden,” in the following lists, I’ve focused on produce that your chickens will love best and that are easy to grow. However, don’t forget “weeds” like purslane, mallow, dandelion, and many more are great for chickens. Make sure to harvest these “weed” greens for them too as you find them in your garden this year.  Before we get to the list though, let’s talk about what chickens can eat, and what they should avoid.  

What Garden Produce Do Chickens Eat?

It is important to know what chickens can and cannot eat before you plan your garden. Chickens can eat practically anything, within reason. For starters, here’s a list of 107 things a chicken can eat. There are a few plants/foods you’ll want to avoid growing for your chickens.

Not advisable for chickens:

  • Rhubarb
  • Tomato & Eggplant Leaves (tomato fruits are fine)
  • Raw Potatoes & Green Potato Skins
  • Uncooked dry Beans & Rice
  • Onions and peppers aren’t going to be their favorites either

However, there is some debate over whether or not some of these are really bad for chickens. You can read more details in my article, 11 Things Not to Feed Chickens, where I go into this subject in more detail.

What to Grow & When for Your Chickens: Spring

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zones 3-4

Last frost date (average): May 15th

April

Start Indoors:

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Plant fruit trees/shrubs

(Chickens love fallen mulberries and they drop tons of fruit–good for the chickens, but make sure to plant away from walkways and living areas. Figs, elderberries, and blackberries are also good options.)

Find out what else to plant in April here.

May

Start Indoors:

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Dill

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale

After the last frost, you can transplant seedlings out (after hardening them off) and plant squash, melons, tomatoes, basil, dill, etc., from seed.

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

June

Transplant seedlings

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Pretty much all herbs

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zones 5-7

Last frost date (average): April 15th

April

Start Indoors:

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Rosemary (potted)

Start Outside:

  • Basil
  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots (Plant early in the month. chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Plant fruit trees/shrubs (Chickens love fallen mulberries, figs, elderberries, blackberries and more.)
  • After last frost set out transplants, and continue to plant warm loving crops from seed (squash, melons, corn, etc.)
  • Rosemary (potted)

Find out what else to plant in April here.

May

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Squash
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary (Potted)
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Pretty much all herbs

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

June

Start Outside:

  • Tomatoes (potted)
  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Herbs

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zone 8

Last frost date (average): March 15th

April

Plant outdoors:

  • Corn
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes (learn to grow tomatoes here)
  • Squash
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Pretty much all herbs
  • Rosemary 

Find out what else to plant in April here.

May

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

June

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zone 9

Last frost date (average): February 15th

(These are some of the slowest months for planting in zone 9–things are just too hot out. However, even these few plants will help your chickens a lot as we wait until the cooler months come again.)

April

  • Basil
  • Corn
  • Muskmelons
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary (Potted. I like to plant it by their coop, protect it the first few years until established and then let them eat it and enjoy the shade–they love the plant!)
  • Squash

Find out what else to plant in April here.

May

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Moringa (I have this planted behind our chicken coop. I imagine they eat the leaves, but I know they love to hang out back there in the shade. This is a more tropical plant are requires warmth with little to no frost. It grows great in our zone 9, and it would do well in zone 10. Very easy to grow from seed.)
  • Muskmelons

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

June

  • Basil
  • Muskmelons
  • Start tomato seeds indoors for fall
  • Moringa

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

Julia Hubler lives in Arizona on two and a half acres, with HOT summers, lots of cacti and amazing sunsets! A sinner saved by grace first and foremost, she is also a homeschool graduate living with her family at home and serving the King, Jesus Christ, above all. She blogs at ReformStead.com about everything homesteading. You can also follow her on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/reformstead/ , Instagram https://www.instagram.com/reformstead/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/reformstead/ .

Still wonder “what can chickens eat in your garden?” Probably not – there’s so many options! Have fun planting your chicken garden this spring!

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?