Chickens: Cheaper or Better?

Well I’ve finally made the leap. I am now a chicken person. After years of pining and a few months of planning, I’ve finally managed to secure my very own back yard chickens. The eggs are amazing.  

 I put off this step for quite some time, because I read somewhere that keeping chickens is not necessarily cheaper. And, being a generation apart from my family keeping chickens, I was kind of clueless to the requirements. Then, an opportunity fell in my lap. A friend needed a house sitter for a month, and part of the gig would be taking care of her chickens. It sounded perfect. It was a trial run.

I quickly found out that keeping a couple of chickens in the backyard is pretty no-brainer and the eggs are delicious. I almost immediately started hashing out a plan. As luck would have it, the friend I house sat for is a carpenter. So we agreed to a skill trade: chicken coop for a website build out. I think we both felt like we got the better end of the deal. We agreed to wait for the winter rains to slow, and then we would build. 

In the days that preceded our first significant dry spell of our El Niño winter, I started to scavenge around my family home for wood. As it turned out, we had plenty of wood to recycle and three-cycle for the project. The only thing we would have to buy was a few hinges and chicken wire.

The chicken wire unfortunately turned out to be a significant expense. And, even though I do have a full role left over that can be returned to the store, the final expense was close to $200. Add to that the cost of chicken scratch (feed) and bedding which are both ongoing expenses, and my backyard project will need to produce about 40 dozen eggs before I break even. With two laying hens that produce about an 200 or so eggs a year each, that’s a full year of egg production to earn their keep. 

I started thinking about that article I read so long ago, but then I got the chickens. They’re wonderful. They have personalities, and bring an elation I never expected. It only took a day before we got our first egg. I couldn’t have been prouder if I had layed it myself.  I poached it and put it over toast. It was perfect. The flavor was strong, the consistency rich and the color brilliant. 

I decided that some things are ok, if they aren’t 100% frugal. It’s about quality of life, and these strange little dinosaur birds are bringing me great joy and giving me wonderful eggs. Assuming they last more than a year, which they should, project backyard chickens will eventually pay for itself financially. It was a good investment. I couldn’t be happier.


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