Saturday, July 9, 2011

Seeing Dollar Signs

I'll just go ahead and say from the get-go, chickens are not cheap.  I was told they were.  Those sweet little chicks may not break the bank, but there are some hefty set-up costs that I didn't really see coming.  Let me enlighten you.

The biggest chunk came by way of that fancy coop.  I thought we'd save a buck or two by drafting our own plans and investing our own sweat equity, but materials alone easily ran 70% of the cost of a pretty sweet coop I'd been drooling over online.  If I'd gone that route, only the UPS man would have needed the sweat rag.  Something to consider.  

Chicken accessories (like feeders and waterers) are most definitely inexpensive.  Maybe $15 total.  Multiply that by two, because of course chicks need their own set scaled to their tiny size.  They don't swim, and that big gallon sized coop waterer quickly becomes a pool without a lifeguard.  Chick food, pine shavings, and electrolytes didn't seem terribly painful either.  

I bought my chicks from because I could get a variety of birds and because I could order them in small numbers.  My local co-op and a favorite garden store sold some in the spring, but  I wasn't ready at the time.  Also, I would have been stuck with Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns.  Both are great layers, but I've read they are on the noisy side.  Since we're doing stealth chickens, I decided to keep shopping.  Unless you choose something rare, most sexed (labeled male or female) chicks will be anywhere from $2.50 to $4.50.  Not bad.  Now, if you don't mind a cockeral or two in the mix, you can order "straight-run" (meaning, un-sexed) chicks and save a buck or two.  Roosters are WAY too loud for this backyard, so I opted to shell out the extra few dollars to ensure all mine were layers.  Chicks are sexed with 90% accuracy, so there is no guarantee my four will all be girls.  It has something to do with the size and shape of the vent, but I think I'll leave that dirty work to the professionals.  Still, I'd take those odds to Vegas.  So, girls it is.  Or so I hope.

Now, because I ordered a small number of chicks, I automatically added expense in shipping.  You see, apparently there is warmth in numbers, so without all that little furry body heat in the box, mine need a warmer.  Of course.  Add $35.

Last, but not least, chicks cannot move straight into their coop palace, so they need an interim place to live.  It must have walls, a baby roost, and a heat lamp to help them maintain a sufficient body temperature.  Another $70.

So, there you have it.  I've yet to calculate just how long it will take them to pay me back by way of delicious organic eggs.  Do you think they'll ever out-lay their expenses?  Oh, well.  I guess if you consider that I just invested in four new pets, a steady supply of quality protein, and am now that much closer to the homegrown life I so dearly value, I come out ahead.

Still, be prepared.

1 comment:

  1. "Stealth Chicks" - I LOVE IT!
    Gorgeous site and I'm looking forward to following your adventures!


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