Let me start off by saying Happy Father’s Day. Dad’s don’t get enough credit in today’s society. We portray them as bumbling idiots on TV, but for those of us who had a great dad or non-blood related father figure, we know the wisdom and knowledge they give us is priceless.
I’m not here to preach a sermon, I’m here to tell you about our first big HOPEFULLY profit making enterprise on our farm. We’ve sold a few animals here and there, sold the odd carton of eggs to neighbors, etc., but this is our first real attempt to take our little farm to the next level. This November we will be offering point of lay chickens for sale!
We already have these guys on site. We have three great heritage and hybrid egg laying breeds. We have a lot of Easter Eggers, our personal favorite egg laying breed. These ladies lay a variety of colored eggs that go through a spectrum from blue to green as they go through their yearly egg/moulting cycle. They’re beautiful, unique birds that originated from blending the Ameraucana chicken with the Araucana chicken. We love our Easter Eggers for the variety of eggs they produce and for the number. These girls are a very productive breed that will produce an egg a day almost year round, and no two eggs (or birds, for that matter) look exactly alike.
We also have Gold and Silver Laced Wyandottes. This is our first experience with the breed. They are friendlier and larger than the Easter Eggers, and their coloration is absolutely beautiful. They’re mostly black with silver or gold speckles depending on which variety they are. They’re definitely among the prettiest birds that I have ever had and would look great pecking around the back yard.
Lastly, we have a very limited number of black variety Jersey Giants, which serve as an excellent dual purpose bird. They are solid layers, and grow to become a much larger bird then your standard laying hen (ranging 2-4 feet tall), making them a decent choice for a meat bird as well. However, with their gorgeous greenish sheen, un-chickenlike vocalizations, and quirky temperament, we think they’re most valuable as members of your egg-laying community.
So, why would you want to pay more for a point of lay chicken when you can simply buy a chick at your local feed store or Tractor Supply next spring?
The average chicken needs about 20 weeks to start laying eggs, however the higher production breeds tend to produce after about 6 months.
While chicks are cute and definitely a lot of fun, they are also a lot of work. The first two months of their lives they will need to be indoors or in a garage under heat lights. Let me tell you, they don’t smell great. During that time they will consume about 16 lbs of feed per bird. Currently, chick starter feed is running about $15 a bag at TS. I can recommend Roger’s Feed in Pelzer, for slightly cheaper prices, but I believe we’re paying about $13 per bag there. That comes out to around .26 per pound. Based on that math, you’re already spending about $5 per bird once you calculate a small amount of feed waste, and let me tell you, chickens waste more than a small amount of feed, especially when they are chicks.
But feed isn’t the only expense you’re going to have. You’re going to need a brooder. This doesn’t have to be something fancy-we’re currently using a large homemade crate that usually serves as our goat transportation box for a small batch of birds. Basically they just need to be contained and protected from any predators that may wander into their little chicken world. This could be anything from a coyote, a rat, a snake, or your beloved man’s best friend (I’m looking at you Bo.) Your brooder will also need at least one heat light and some wheat straw or wood shavings for them to hunker down in. Let’s be conservative and say you spend about $48 on the brooder to raise 6 chicks. So that’s $8 per chick.
You’re going to have to feed and water them twice a day (for which you’ll need feeders and waterers about $30 divided by 6 chicks, and that’s another $5.)
Finally, you’re going to have to actually buy chicks. Quality breeds and healthy chickens will run you between $2 and $3 per bird.
So let’s add that up…
$5 – feed cost per bird for 6 months
$8 – brooder cost
$5 – feeder and waterers
$2.50 – cost of chick
That comes out to a total of $20.50 per bird. On average, you can expect a 10% mortality rate… (fancy way of saying one of the cute little peepers in your box of chicks is going to be a statistic.) Also, most chicks will be sold straight run, meaning they will be a mixture of male and female. This should come out to about 50% but in our experience you get more males than females. Then you’re left with the dilemma of what to do with the roosters, who are all crowing in the backyard at 4:30. One rooster is nice. 6 is chaos.
What we’re offering is a chance for you to have instant gratification (EGGS NOW!) at a slight premium over what your chicks would already cost you to raise. We’ll be offering point of lay hens at $25 a piece starting 10/1.
These hens are guaranteed female and are vaccinated against Marek’s, a common poultry disease that will decimate your flock. They’ve been out on grass since they were 6 weeks old and are some of the healthiest and happiest chicks we’ve ever met. We are housing them separately from both our normal laying flock and our meat birds for bio-security. Best of all, we’re doing the hard part, because that’s what farmers do. This is a great way to get into chickens or boost your existing flock.
So please let us know if this is something you would be interested in! You can reach us by any of the usual means. Keep checking back because we have a lot of really awesome stuff going on right now! Our tomatoes are finally producing, and if you know us, you know we love tomatoes, and we made our first batch of cheese from Marsha milk this weekend and it came out delicious! We really love sharing our news with you guys and sorry if this came off as a sales pitch (it was a sales pitch, so that’s probably why.) We won’t make a habit of it.