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Will Raising Meat Chickens Save Money?

As I forked over $15 for small organic chicken at the grocery store a few years ago I had this absolutely brilliant idea.  We should raise our own meat chickens to save money!  After all, doing it yourself is always cheaper, right?  Right?  And when your choices are sad factory farmed chickens or a big chunk of the grocery budget the logical thing is to want to find a middle ground.

We trotted down to the feed store to pick up some chicks, red broilers, to be precise.  Well I trotted.  I think my husband was dragging his feet a bit.  I already knew the basics of chick care from raising our first laying hens. Once we got home with the cute fluffy things I started them out in a rubbermaid bin and spent a lot of time ooh and ahhing over how cute they they were.

Doing it yourself is always cheaper, right?  Right? So, will raising meat chickens save money? Continue reading to find out!

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Here’s How Much I Spent On Raising Meat Chickens

Those tiny cute chicks soon graduated in size to a large cardboard box, and then to an even larger homemade chicken tractor in the garage, which required a substantial amount of straw to not be stinky.  I didn’t include upfront costs of feeders, housing, or bedding, because I already had those on hand.

The chicks were $2.00 each.  I spent about $5.00 per bird in feed, and this is going to be the number that varies the most for people depending on their area.  It’s been a while since I’ve purchased bagged feed (Here’s how to mix your own), but I bet it’s more expensive now.  If you raise a heritage breed they will forage more efficiently, but they also take longer to grow out, so you don’t really save much money there.

If you process them yourself you will save money, even with the costs of  supplies and tools to do the job (hatchet or sharp knife, large stock pot, gloves, plastic bags, etc.).  At the time we paid someone else $3.00 a bird, but now it’s $4.00-$6.00 depending on the size of the bird.   By that point I was done oohing and ahhing and ready for some fried chicken.

So by the time you get to the dinner table the absolute LEAST amount of money you could pull out of your hat for the cost of the bird and feed is $7.00, but that’s not counting either the cost of processing, or the cost of your time to do it yourself OR any start up costs for equipment or housing.

Are you going to get the cheapest chicken EVER by raising it yourself?  

Probably not.  But the important thing to remember is the chicken in the grocery store has been raised on corn and soy crops that were subsidized by government farm assistance, and were raised for efficiency regardless of how humane their conditions were.  It’s going to be tough to beat that unless you are completely self sufficient on your own land.

Can you raise humane, healthy, high quality, environmentally friendlier  meat for a fair price?  You bet.

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Friday 13th of May 2016

We share with other family members which covers our costs.

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Friday 13th of May 2016

That's a great way to do it.

Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader

Saturday 30th of May 2015

Great job on breaking down the costs for us. Sometimes we forget to add up all the costs and end up spending more, in this case yes you would be saving $2 a bird, but like you said, you are raising them more humanly than they would have been and you're process is more environmentally friendly. Thanks for sharing.

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Monday 1st of June 2015

And I didn't account for any upfront costs, so some people may consider that as a higher cost or a loss if they have to go out and purchase equipment.

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