How Much Do Chickens Cost?

By Chicken Pets on
How Much Do Chickens Cost?

Are you thinking about raising backyard chickens? In this post, we’ll go over the costs involved, including the initial investments and ongoing expenses, to help you make an informed decision.

How Much Do Chickens Cost?

The cost of raising chickens may vary, but some common expenses include buying chicks or hens, housing, and feed. Expect to spend $3-$5 per chick, $200-$300 on housing, and about $15 a month on feed for a small flock.

Initial Investments: Getting Started

There are several initial investments you need to make when starting your backyard chicken flock. These expenses include purchasing chicks or hens, setting up their housing, and providing food and water containers.

Choosing Your Flock: Chicks or Hens?

Before you start, consider whether you want to raise chicks or buy mature hens. Chicks are less expensive, typically costing between $3 and $5 each. However, hens, which cost around $20 to $50 depending on their breed and age, will start laying eggs sooner. When deciding, factor in the time and resources you have available for raising young chicks until they begin producing eggs.

Creating a Cozy Home: Housing Expenses

When it comes to housing your flock, there are different options and costs. You can choose between buying a pre-made coop, building your own, or converting an existing structure.

Pre-made Coops

Pre-made chicken coops vary in price, depending on their size, design, and materials. Some basic coops start at around $200, while larger, more elaborate ones can cost more than $1,000. Consider how many chickens you plan on raising and ensure the coop you choose provides enough space for them.

DIY Coops

If you’re handy with tools and prefer building your own chicken coop, this option can be more cost-effective. Materials and supplies can range from $100 to $500, depending on your design and the size of your flock. Look for free plans online to guide you on this DIY project.

Converting Existing Structures

For those with an existing structure, such as a shed or garage, converting it into a chicken coop can save money. This approach mainly involves minor changes and improvements, like installing perches, nesting boxes, and ventilation. Check local regulations and make sure your setup complies with any specific guidelines or requirements.

Feeding Your Flock: Food Costs

Chickens need a balanced diet to maintain a healthy and productive flock. Depending on the size of your flock, feed can cost around $15 to $50 per month. There are a few different options for feeding and supplementing your chickens’ diets:

Commercial Feed

Commercial chicken feed is readily available and can be purchased in bulk to save money. You’ll find various options, such as crumbles, pellets, or mash, and it’s important to choose the right feed for your flock’s age and needs.

Feeding Scraps

A great way to save money is by feeding your chickens kitchen scraps. Chickens love fruits, vegetables, and even some grains like oats and rice. Remember to provide a balanced diet and avoid feeding them anything harmful, such as onion, celery, or chocolate.


Free-ranging your flock, allowing them to roam around your backyard or property, can reduce feed costs. Chickens enjoy consuming bugs, plants, and grasses, which can supplement their diet. Ensure you have a fenced area to protect them from predators and supervise them when free-ranging.

Quenching Their Thirst: Water Expenses

Providing clean and fresh water for your chickens is essential to their health and well-being. Just like with feed, there are several options for water containers, from simple dishes to automatic systems.

Waterers and Dishes

You can find basic plastic or metal watering dishes for under $10. While these are simple and affordable, they require daily cleaning and refilling since chickens tend to make a mess while drinking.

Automatic Watering Systems

Automatic watering systems like nipple drinkers or cups can range from $20 to $50 or more. These systems keep your chickens’ water cleaner for longer periods, reducing the time you spend cleaning and refilling. Some automatic systems can also be connected to a larger water supply, allowing you to save on labor costs.

Keeping Chickens Healthy: Healthcare Costs

While chickens are generally low-maintenance animals, it’s important to provide them with proper healthcare to prevent disease and maintain productivity. Here are some healthcare costs you should anticipate:

Vaccinations and Medications

Vaccinations can help protect your chickens from diseases like Marek’s and Newcastle disease. Many hatcheries offer vaccinated chicks at a slightly higher price, usually around $1 extra per chick. Aside from vaccinations, you might need to purchase medications, such as dewormers or antibiotics, depending on your chickens’ needs.

Healthcare Maintenance Supplies

Maintaining a clean and healthy environment is essential for your flock. Allocate a budget for cleaning supplies, such as brooms, cleaning agents, and disinfectants. Additionally, you may want to invest in mite or lice prevention products to keep your flock parasite-free.

Extra Expenses

There are a few other expenses you should consider when calculating the cost of raising backyard chickens:

  • Bedding: You’ll need bedding material like straw, wood shavings, or pine needles for your coop’s floor and nesting boxes, which can cost around $10 to $20 per month.
  • Heating: If you live in a colder climate, you might need to provide some form of heat for your chickens, such as heat lamps or insulated coops, which can increase your electricity bill or require specific heating supplies.
  • Permits and fees: In some areas, you may need to pay for permits or fees related to keeping chickens on your property.
  • Replacement chickens: Make sure to account for the cost of replacing your chickens as they age and their productivity declines.

By considering all these costs, you can better understand the financial investment involved in raising backyard chickens. Keep in mind that expenses can vary greatly depending on factors like the quantity and breed of chickens, housing decisions, and regional prices for feed and healthcare. Monitoring and managing your expenses will help ensure you enjoy the many benefits of owning backyard chickens without breaking the bank.

Costs Savings and Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens

Despite the expenses related to raising backyard chickens, there are numerous savings and benefits you should consider as well, which can offset some of the costs. These advantages include egg production, pest control, and enriching your garden.

Fresh Eggs: Save on Groceries

One of the primary benefits of keeping chickens is the fresh and nutritious eggs they produce. A healthy hen can lay around 200-300 eggs per year, resulting in considerable savings on your grocery bills, especially if you consume a lot of eggs.

Natural Pest Control: Reduce Expenditure on Chemicals

Chickens are excellent at keeping bug populations under control, as they enjoy eating insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. Free-ranging your chickens can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides, thus saving money on pest control while contributing to a healthier ecosystem.

Enrich Your Garden: Natural Fertilizer and Tillers

By using chicken manure as a natural fertilizer, you can save money on store-bought alternatives, while providing your garden with essential nutrients. Additionally, chickens love to scratch and dig, which can help till your garden beds, improving soil quality and air circulation. This can lead to cost savings on soil improvement products and the tools needed for garden maintenance.

How to Reduce Costs While Raising Chickens

There are some ways to save money when raising your backyard chickens without compromising their well-being. Consider some of the following strategies:

Buy Chicks Instead of Hens

As previously mentioned, purchasing chicks rather than mature hens can save money upfront, though it may take a while before they start laying eggs. If you have the time and patience to raise chicks, this option can be more economical.

Source Second-Hand or Discounted Supplies

Check for discounted or second-hand coops, feeders, waterers, and other supplies online or in local classifieds. Reducing costs on these items can make a significant difference in the overall expense of raising chickens.

Feed Chickens Kitchen Scraps

Using kitchen scraps as supplemental food can decrease your feed costs. Be mindful of what you offer, avoiding any harmful or unhealthy scraps, and monitor their diet to ensure they’re receiving proper nutrients.

Learn Basic Chicken Healthcare

By learning how to care for your chickens’ health needs, you can reduce or eliminate the need for professional assistance, leading to cost savings. Take the time to study chicken healthcare basics and consult online resources or experts for advice when needed.

Understanding the costs associated with raising backyard chickens will help you create a plan and budget that ensures the happiness and health of your flock. By considering cost-saving strategies, you’re better equipped to enjoy the many benefits of raising chickens while keeping expenses in check.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re new to raising backyard chickens or simply have some questions about the costs involved, you’re not alone. Here’s a collection of frequently asked questions and answers to guide you on your backyard chicken journey.

1. How much does it cost to start raising backyard chickens?

The initial costs of raising backyard chickens can range from $100 to $1,000 or more, depending on factors like the type of housing, number of chickens, and whether you choose to buy chicks or hens.

2. How much does a chicken coop cost?

A pre-made chicken coop can cost anywhere between $200 to over $1,000, depending on factors like the size, design, and materials used. Building your own coop or repurposing an existing structure can be more cost-effective, ranging from $100 to $500.

3. How much does chicken feed cost?

Feeding your chickens can cost between $15 to $50 per month, depending on the size of your flock and the type of feed. Budget-friendly options include supplementing their diet with kitchen scraps and free-ranging for a natural diet.

4. How much does it cost to provide water for chickens?

Basic water containers for chickens can be found for under $10, while automatic watering systems can cost between $20 to $50 or more, depending on the design and features. Water costs can vary based on regional prices and consumption rates.

5. How much do vaccines and medications for chickens cost?

Vaccinated chicks usually cost around $1 extra per chick. The price of medications, such as dewormers or antibiotics, can vary depending on the specific product and the size of your flock.

6. How can I save money on chicken housing?

Consider building your own coop using free online plans as a cost-effective option, or repurpose an existing structure to save money. Keep an eye out for discounted or second-hand coops and supplies as well.

7. How can I save money on chicken feed?

Supplement your chickens’ feed with kitchen scraps or free-range them to reduce feed costs. Also, consider buying chicken feed in bulk for potential discounts.

8. How much do chickens cost to maintain per year?

The annual cost of maintaining chickens can range from several hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on factors like feed costs, coop maintenance or bedding, and healthcare. It’s essential to budget and plan for these expenses accordingly.

9. Can I make money selling eggs from my backyard chickens?

Though selling eggs can generate some income, it’s important to research local regulations and plan for additional costs like packaging and marketing. Your profitability will depend on factors such as egg production, local demand, and egg prices in your area.

10. Is it cheaper to raise my own chickens for eggs or meat?

Raising backyard chickens for eggs or meat can be cost-effective, especially if you utilize cost-saving strategies, such as DIY housing, using kitchen scraps as feed supplements, and maintaining proper healthcare. However, individual results may vary based on factors like the number of chickens, feed costs, and local regulations.

11. Do I need a permit to raise backyard chickens?

Permit requirements vary by location, so be sure to research your local regulations before starting your backyard chicken flock. Some areas may require permits or have specific guidelines and restrictions related to raising chickens.

12. How long does it take for chicks to start laying eggs?

Most chicks will start laying eggs between 5 to 6 months of age, depending on factors like breed, diet, and environment. Some breeds may take longer to reach maturity and begin egg production.

13. How much does it cost to process chickens for meat?

The cost of processing chickens for meat can vary depending on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. DIY processing has lower costs, mainly associated with supplies and equipment, but may require time and skill. Professional processing may cost between $3 to $5 per bird, depending on the service provider.

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