Author Topic: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...  (Read 1547 times)

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« on: December 31, 2013, 02:19:06 PM »
When we got them, we felt they were.  We were purchasing 8 dozen eggs per month at around $3.85 (for Oklahoma non-GMO pastured eggs).  We free ranged ours in the back yard at first, though of course had to give most of their feed due to the small size of our lot.  But they got lots of greens and bugs that way.  At this point, I'm spending a minimum of $45 per month on feed (probably closer to $50 with the freight fee) even after switching to mixing my own ) it was more like $62 plus freight prior), plus whatever it costs to run the heated base for their waterer.  We are no longer allowed to let them run free due to city ordinance.  Getting one egg a day if we're lucky right now.  I know come spring we'll probably be overrun with eggs since four of our pullets are young (9-10 months).  But when I do the math, even though "good" eggs are higher now (more like $5 per dozen, a little more once you figure tax and shipping fees from the OK Food Co-op, or "only" $3.99 for organic free-range from the commissary, $2 a dozen for local ones IF I can get them and don't care that he uses gmo feed.  I could still buy 8 dozen of the priciest option for less than I spend on feed and we wouldn't have the work of caring for them.   Not that it's usually all that hard, but in the winter things can be a pain.

Cost-wise, it seems smarter NOT to have chickens right now.  But I do like the sufficiency aspect of it.  Yet feel it loses something since they can't free-range other than in their run.  :(

Any of you in the same boat?  I know some of you have the space (and lack of laws) to let them free-range...you are so fortunate.  :)

Catherine

Offline Molly

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 11:17:25 AM »
I've been thinking the same about having chickens.  Mine aren't laying at all even though 4 of them are young and should be.  I'm thinking of having my son butcher most of the birds while he's home from college.  I'm tired of buying feed for them.  Feeding 5 turkeys and about 20 hens right now, for zero eggs.  I know I could lock them all up and put a light on and feed them more and higher protein feed, but that would be a very expensive option.

I do enjoy birds around the homestead but thinking of cutting way back.

Molly

Molly
homesteading on Whidbey Island, Wa with family of 10

Offline wrancher

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 08:02:34 AM »
I think I would get rid of the chickens as for self sufficiency it isn't very efficient. You could save a lot of money by just buying your eggs for now. The reason you wanted them was to be self sufficient and they aren't doing their job. Just an opinion. Maybe that is too much of being a farmer/rancher.

Offline luv2bmom

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 08:11:47 AM »
I think it's sad you can't free range your chickens, that makes no sense to me especially in an enclosed backyard....;(

We just went through 3 months of zero eggs from our 3 hens...they were kinda molting but not bad...we made the decision we would just let them do their thing, I enjoy having them and 3 is a small chore and expense.  I read somewhere add organic apple cider to their water.  So I bought the Braggs cider (it has the mother in it) and within a short time we got eggs!  I do it faithfully now and it keeps the green slime from coming into the waterer too.  I change their water ever other day. 

I understand how you questioning having them under your circumstances...takes the fun from it!  Good luck!!
Pixie, wife to Coby
mother to Megan, Amanda
and to our beloved late son Braden
Baboo to Mont, Ada, Brinly and Brielle
mil to Warren and Marcus

Offline Andrea G

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2014, 09:10:28 AM »
I wonder that myself this time of year. We have 51 layers plus five roosters and during the winter they can't free range at all. We have a lot of snow right now and they hardly leave the coops. We got 4 eggs yesterday, and that is pretty typical. Plus it is so much work in the cold weather, it is -7F today.  Not fun!

I think you have to consider why you wanted them. If it is just to save money then you would be better off getting rid of them. But there are other benefits. You know exactly what they have been fed. The eggs are so good! They are entertaining to have around, though maybe not so much if they have to stay in the coop. They are educational for the kids, since they learn not only about chickens but about responsibility too. They make fabulous compost for your garden. Some of these benefits you can't put a price on. I don't remember how many chickens you have. Would it be easier if you just downsized? It is really too bad that you can't free range in your own yard. :(
Loving life in southern Ontario
Wife to David, Mom to Kate, Paul, Matt and Julianne

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2014, 10:14:35 AM »
Andrea, we typically have 10-12, 12 being the limit in town.  This amount gives us too many eggs in spring in fall and not enough summer and winter, lol.  I need to get better about freezing them again when they're plentiful to help get us through when they're not.

I guess we originally got them to be more self-sufficient, overall.  And that's still a goal.  But sometimes living in town and needing to buy their feed (not enough room to grow it on 1/5th of an acre, lol), that kind of seems pointless.  We either have to buy chicken feed if we keep them or buy eggs if we don't.  To be fair, Maddy does most of their care on a daily basis-fresh water, feeding, etc... .  But Earl and I clip wings (when we do it, not now since we got the higher fence), clean the co-op, buy and haul the feed or ingredients, and take care of sick chickens when the need arises.

I do like knowing exactly the conditions they are in, though.  Even though they don't get to free range often, I raise the mealworms for an occasional treat, we put our leaves (and the neighbors' when we remember to ask) in the coop so they have something to dig through, we give them chard or other greens or leaves from the garden.  They are loved, not in the same way as our house pets, but we do care for them and try to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 01:01:22 PM »
Have you made a decision?

I know I'm not saving any money by having my hens but I really enjoy them and the eggs are so much better tasting than the ones I buy. 

I'm interested in learning about raising the mealworms.  Any recommendations for websites? 
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 02:05:31 PM »
I think we're going to hang onto them for now with spring coming, considering all the eggs we've been eating lately.

This link tells how to raise them.  It is very simple, though I actually have mine in wheat bran rather than the chick crumbles.  The biggest issue is this time of year, keeping them warm enough.  Mine are in the garage so pretty much dormant for now.  They prefer hot temps.  In a colder area than here, they'd need to be in a heated area.

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 02:24:27 PM »
Oh good!  I was hoping you'd keep them! :)

Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 02:24:33 PM »
I think we're going to hang onto them for now with spring coming, considering all the eggs we've been eating lately.

This link tells how to raise them.  It is very simple, though I actually have mine in wheat bran rather than the chick crumbles.  The biggest issue is this time of year, keeping them warm enough.  Mine are in the garage so pretty much dormant for now.  They prefer hot temps.  In a colder area than here, they'd need to be in a heated area.

Sorry, just realized I forgot the link.  http://www.sialis.org/raisingmealworms.htm

Offline Cheryl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 02:25:42 PM »
I think we're going to hang onto them for now with spring coming, considering all the eggs we've been eating lately.

This link tells how to raise them.  It is very simple, though I actually have mine in wheat bran rather than the chick crumbles.  The biggest issue is this time of year, keeping them warm enough.  Mine are in the garage so pretty much dormant for now.  They prefer hot temps.  In a colder area than here, they'd need to be in a heated area.

Sorry, just realized I forgot the link.  http://www.sialis.org/raisingmealworms.htm

Thanks!  I'm going to look into this.
Cheryl in Alabama
Wife to Tony
Mother to Lana & Emily
Nana to Logan & Madilyn

Offline Andrea G

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2014, 10:35:46 AM »
Catherine, thanks for posting that link. I might try this, mealworms would be great for the chickens and also our geckos.  That could potentially save us some money.  :)
Loving life in southern Ontario
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Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 01:14:27 PM »
We orderd our "starter" meal worms from Exotic Pet Supply online.  I had read NOT to get the biggest ones because they have been medicated with something go prevent them from changing to beetles and allow them to get larger.  So I went with medium ones and they have seemed very healthy and done well for us.

Offline bobbie78

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Re: Trying to decide if chickens are worthwhile for us...
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 12:26:11 AM »
We recently gave our chickens to Chad's uncle. They weren't laying. We bought the proper foods for them and the pellets for them to lay and nothing. This went on for quite some time. Last week Chad went out to feed and water them and he had to thaw their water. Like many of you, you have to do that every day when its this cold. But he told me he just felt it wasnt worth it anymore. We havent gotten eggs which was the main reason we raised them. I don't have the heart or know-how to butcher them for meat. So we just thought it was best to pass them on to his Uncle. His uncle loves chickens for pets. He isnt worried about them laying, he just enjoys watching them. He's older and retired and has the time for them. So for us, this was what we felt it was best to do.
~Bobbie from southern Ohio. Living life with my partner, Chad and two furbabies Punkin and Jade.