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hendi_alex
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The Price of Eggs

I recently bought six chickens and by late summer hope to be harvesting fresh, nutritious eggs from them. At one point we were adding up the costs of this food growing hobby, and when doing so, the joke was made that not counting food, it would take about 100 dozen eggs to break even, maybe 150 dozen. And that is allowing $3-$4 per dozen which is about what free range locally grown chicken eggs will bring.

A couple of times per week I harvest the chicken manure and move it to the compost pile. After doing that for a few weeks I've noticed that the compost pile, which has always run cool, is beginning to operate as a hot pile. So here is a secondary benefit of having the chickens. If the compost cooks quicker, moves to the garden quicker, and is more nutrient rich as well, perhaps the garden will begin to produce 10-25% greater harvests. Maybe the break even for the chickens, coop, and supplies is closer than that first estimate!

Right now the chickens are being fed regular commercial chicken food which is being augmented by a good daily batch of weeds that are tossed in for forage. I'm in the process of growing an expanded area for free range and forage, about 1/8 acre, that is planted in various grasses, grains, and sun flowers. At some point I would like to move the chickens toward closer to a 100% organic diet. Soon my worm bed will start to contribute some earth worms to the cause, but am waiting on the chickens to mature first.

Nevertheless, that first chicken egg will cost at least $450-$500. Even the first 100 eggs will have cost $5 per egg. Those chickens really have their work cut out for them!
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
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Re: The Price of Eggs

I hope the eggs those chickens lay are golden.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

They need to be or I'll perhaps never recoup my investment.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

toxcrusadr
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Around here a bag of chicken feed is $12 or more so it gets pretty expensive. The more forage they can eat the better!

Watch that your compost doesn't get too hot, or it may start smellin' bad. Have plenty of browns on hand!

Those hen fruits are good eatin' though. :-()
Tox

Dillbert
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Re: The Price of Eggs

sigh... but it is satisfying.

have studiously avoided calculations of what my tomatoes cost per pound.....

iffin' it were 'legal' I'd keep some chickens here - just for the fun of it.

keep us posted!

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

My biggest gardening expense each year is potting soil, usually buying about $250 worth (twenty 64 quart bags). I'm hoping to get by with about half that amount next year. Will be stepping up the compost production, as have tons of leaves, and a big yard to provide lots of greens. I reuse the potting soil but keep expanding things so never can seem to get enough.

My gardening is expensive, but no so much as hobbies go. But the gardening is split between ornamental gardening and vegetable garden. The veggie part probably only costs about $350-$400 per year going forward. Thankfully things like tools, containers, support cages, bedding elements are all in place and will only have to slowly be replaced.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Beekeeping is on my short list. I currently buy honey from my neighbor who lives about a half mile away, for $8 a quart. He is getting older though and sooner or later will no longer be working with the bees. I'm hoping to buy his used equipment when that day comes.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

estorms
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Bees and chickens are on my list for next year. We are going to plant clover in our orchard this year. My neighbor has chickens and is doing bees for the second time this year. He has had chicken eating critters and a bear destroyed his hive last year. I am hoping to learn from his mistakes.

estorms
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Vegetables and eggs feed your body, gardening feeds your soul. Growing a garden and raising your chickens feeds a part of you that food can never reach. It's the doing, not the having that is so good for you.

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Amen to that!

Getting older, for me, has seemed to involve the setting aside of interests and activities that used to be major parts of daily or weekly life. Without the constancy of gardening, of actively participating in that aspect of the cycle of life, a much greater void would be felt. I know that as things change, one needs to find new interests and activities, but I'm mostly making a bad grade on doing that. I keep saying that I'm going to learn to speak Spanish, but there is no fire and no real commitment, and so far that and many other ideas remain in the 'maybe' or the 'someday' pile. But gardening, ah gardening, it takes my attention and my effort year round, and it awakens me when the pace quickens in the spring. The smell and feel of the earth, the physical labor, the daily signs of progress, the sights, smell, experience of the harvest, the daily walks in the garden with wife and a glass of good wine,.........all blend to feed the mind, body, and soul.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
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Re: The Price of Eggs

I like that idea "a garden to feed mind, body, and soul"
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

FriedGreenTomatoes
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Re: The Price of Eggs

The things you have said about gardening are beautiful!! I don't think I have ever heard anyone speak of it like that before.

You know the credit card commercials where that add up the price of things then mention that the experiences are priceless, that's a way to think about it.... nothing like feeding yourself(body and soul) from the sweat of your brow!

Overall do you see having chickens being worth it? I plan to get a few but I don't know if I should wait until next year.
Grow with your garden!

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

I enjoy the chickens as a new interest and a new interaction. Routines have already developed: check on them in the morning plus feed and water if needed, visit and speak to them when walking the yard, late afternoon gather a little forage food, gather their droppings for the compost pile (yuk!). Am quickly learning their favorite grasses and weeds.

Some things can't be bought in the store, so unless you have easy access to a local grower, fresh home grown eggs can't be duplicated. What price does a person put on that level of quality and freshness? My guess is $375-$500 for initial set up, with break even out 2-3 years giving the eggs a value of $4 per dozen. Lots of eggs will be exported, so if sold, break even would be lots quicker. Also, we just have six chickens, but have built enough space for about 12-15 chickens. The less chickens, the greater the fixed cost of pen, coop, and feeder/waterer.

Being retired, the routines associated with keeping the chickens is welcome. I could see how it would be a hindrance for some. I'm thinking that the chickens will be able to go for up to 3 days without my presence, when we go on short visits. Over three days, and I would want to have someone check on the chickens, water, and feed.

One final note on costs. In researching and reading on line, one can quickly find the lure of expensive alternatives. Martha Steward will have you build a small chicken mansion. Many of the nice ready built pens can cost $1000-$2000 as can many of the coops and runs built from plans. My 10 foot by 24 foot run and 6-8 bird coop cost under $500. Chickens, feeder, waterer cost about $50. I'll probably buy two new chicks each year, but will never have more than 10-12 chickens at a time, unless for some reason decide to start marketing organic eggs.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

estorms
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Bear in mind this is my unqualified opinion; I have never raised chickens. We did have them when I was a child. There are a lot of things out there that would like to eat chickens. They will find any hole to get in. They will even dig under or come down through the roof. Roosters are very noisy. Most of your neighbors won't appreciate them. You do not need a rooster to get fresh eggs; they will not however, hatch into little chicks. Rats are very attracted to chicken feed and they are smart.

I like the sounds chickens make when they are out walking around. (My neighbor's chickens come over) They are pleasant company when I am working in the yard. They spend their whole lives eating bugs.

I think I am going to get enough of them so I can eat some. I will have to be careful not to make pets out of them or give them names.

I need to look it up, but I heard somewhere that free-range chicken eggs are lower in cholesterol. Sounds like the guy who made chickens knew what he was doing.

LGT
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Re: The Price of Eggs

My Grandmother raises coop chickens and has for the past 30 years. If you stick with it you will definitely recoup your financial investment. The main thing that she has had to worry about over the years has been dogs. She lives out in the country and hasn't had any real problems with any other animals. She also feeds the chickens old bread. If we don't eat an entire loaf or buns, we give them to her. I don't know if this is the healthiest thing but the eggs still taste great. If you live far enough out to have roosters then your neighbors probably won't hear them too much. I lived right next door to my Grandma for 10 years and have no real complaints about the noise.

I think Grandma really raises the chickens for personal enjoyment also. She has been retired for almost 20 years and it does give her a reason to get up everyday. She did not spend that much on the initial set up either. She sells the eggs and that helps with the cost. She has around 15 now but started out at around 6. Her coop is nothing fancy. It is just attached to a horse pen but it works and it keeps the critters out.

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Our chicken run is covered sides and top with wire. We also have a two foot skirt flat on the ground, on the outside, so that critters can't dig under. I'm thinking that egg eating black snakes might be the greatest problem. Of course I'm sure some surprises are likely to crop up along the way.

Our coop and run are very simple. Here are a couple of photos.

Ten foot by 24 foot run has 8 feet on one side covered with PVC sheeting but has two sections of clear polycarbonate to give a bit more light.

Image

The coop is made from two sheets of 4 x 8 exterior siding. The hinged section will drop down in the winter time. Am keeping the food dispenser under the coop, but had to put up this temporary barrier as rain was blowing into the food.

Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

LGT
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Re: The Price of Eggs

This looks a lot like my Grandma's and with upkeep it has been working for almost 30 years. She had the same problem with rain. She ended up putting tin up on the sides and roof of the back 1/4 of her coop and that solved that problem. She has two shelves along the entire back wall of the coop with the boxes. When you up your number, you might end up making that adjustment. I don't think she has the two foot skirt on the outside. That might have solved the dog issue she had a few years back.

In the first picture, what do you have on the back right corner?

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Are you talking about my worm box?

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Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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Susan W
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Let's see if this link works. Hendi, this is a way you can get your $$ back and more. It was on my Twitter, Marketplace. I missed the story as I was working in my own garden.

Marketplace ‏@MarketplaceAPM15m
How to get the freshest eggs? Rent a chicken. https://mktplc.org/13y0xJT
Have fun!
Susan

FriedGreenTomatoes
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Re: The Price of Eggs

That's a nice coop! I didn't notice where it said you were from. Do you live where winters are pretty warm? Or will you board up the coop in the winter? We have a barn that looks like the previous owners had something in there, I'm guessing chickens because there's a section that has boards on the bottom and fence on the top.
That's where we plan to put ours. Then we were gonna fence off a run behind the barn for them. Do you think that sounds ok?
Grow with your garden!

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hendi_alex
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Re: The Price of Eggs

We rarely get below the mid 20's. I don't think that cold is so much a problems here as is heat when the temperatures get over 100 degrees. That is why I have shade cloth the strap in place, also helps keep the wind from whistling through so hard. If temperatures drop down into the teens, though doubt that the birds will need it, I'll likely put a bulb in the coop.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

LGT
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Re: The Price of Eggs

I think I was asking about the shade cloth you have up. I saw an up close when you showed the worm box. My Grandma lives is South Georgia and her chickens had no problem with the heat. I don't know if different kinds can handle different temperatures. Not sure what kind she has. She never did the heat lamp but her coop was more closed in and I bet it gets a little bit colder in South Carolina.

gepstein
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Re: The Price of Eggs

Ah, the price of eggs. I don't even factor into the cost of eggs other than feed. I don't want to disappoint myself. Anyway, it's about the taste! Feed costs me $16.00/50 pound bag for 8 hens about every 3 - 4 weeks. I sell the eggs at $2/half or 3.50 full doz. I figure I am breaking even. If I go organic...that's double the price of feed.

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