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Does keeping chickens actually save money?

 
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Trace I guess it it's a great example of the variety of coops out there.  I remember seeing pictures of the beginning of your coop.  It was amazing, and what I would say very fancy. It also speaks to where you live can make a huge difference.  I live in Northern California, so my coop is basically a frame made of repurposed pipe, covered with chicken wire, and one end covered with repurposed corrugated steel, and a old wooden door.  Even the new chic wing cost me less than 100.00. made pretty much the same way, except the corrugated steel is on the bottom buried in the ground a foot to protect the chickens from predators.  I'm also in an area without a lot of predictors, so I can get away with a dirt floor.
Your comment made me realize this kind of coop works great for me where I live, but in a colder climate it wouldn't be even close to warm enough.  So I guess again where you live , how much land you have, access to materials, it's all relevant to what you build, and how much it cost to build it.  
Unfortunately the only totally true answer to the question Does keeping chickens actually save money ? Would be it depends.  Not an answer anyone wants to hear.
 
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Jen Fulkerson wrote: I don't know what kind of coop people are making, but a 1000.00 for a coop?  



Jen, this made me literally laugh out loud.  I wish my coop cost $1000.  I'll be lucky to get it done for double that, and that is with a lot of salvaged lumber for the framing, salvaged windows, building my own door, and doing all the labor myself.



@Trace Oswald - Please explain: if your materials are largely salvaged, and you are supplying your own labor, what constitutes $2000 in expenses for your coop project?  If you were paying for someone's labor, I could easily see that type of expense.  As it is, I'm struggling to understand...



Sure.  I have all the tools, so no cost issues there.  For the coop itself, you need a foundation of some sort.  Here that is a wall 4' deep, or posts, or cement pillars if you want a dirt floor so that your building doesn't frost heave.  I don't have rock or I would probably rent a backhoe, dig a trench and use a rubble trench foundation.  If you decide to use post or pillars, you still have to use something to keep predators from digging into the coop and eating the chickens, so you have to trench and put in hardware cloth or something to stop that.  By the time your are done with that, it's generally cheaper to build a floor and build on skids.  That will cost about $100 for three skids.  Then you need to frame a floor.  So, 13 2x6x8's, and 2 2x6x16's.  There's $120 or so.  4 sheets of plywood at $35, so $140.  5 gals of waterproofing so my floor doesn't rot, $50 That's $410 to get a floor.  I don't have wall cladding yet, or plywood for the roof, or roofing material.   I expect the plywood to be $500 or $600 total, and then I need the actual roofing material.  I'll probably go with corrugated metal for the longevity.  $150 or so.  I'll probably use pallet boards to cover the walls, so those will be free except for my time, but I will poly them so they don't rot.  A couple gallons of poly.  $30.  Nails, screws, glue, caulk, paint for the inside of the coop, saw blades for the sawzall, hinges for the doors and windows.  I don't know how much those will be.  Maybe $100?  Hopefully I can scrounge some of it.  Hardware cloth to cover the outside of the windows so racoons can't break in.  Hardware cloth 4' wide by 25' is $75 a roll, so $150 there minimum, and that may not be enough left over to make the screen door.  A rough calculation puts me at $1200-$1300 or so.  I haven't built the door yet, but I'm hoping I can salvage one.  Same with the top clerestory windows.  I salvaged the others already.  That doesn't count the gas money for the 120 mile round trip to the store for the materials, trips to pick up free pallets and salvaged wood.  Not sure what else I'm forgetting, but you can be sure there is something.  Beer, soda, and pizza for the people that help me stand the walls up and get them attached to the foundation and help get the roof on.  It may not actually cost me $2000, but building a coop definitely adds up to more than I had thought before I actually started building.  The upside is, the coop is 8'x16', so I should never need another one, or a bigger one.  I'm building it well, so it should last the rest of my lifetime+.  I'm not putting the cost out to dissuade anyone, but it's important, I think, to have some idea going into this how much it will cost.  A different climate, a smaller coop, better scrounging, can all change this a great deal.
 
Trace Oswald
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Trace I guess it it's a great example of the variety of coops out there.  I remember seeing pictures of the beginning of your coop.  It was amazing, and what I would say very fancy. It also speaks to where you live can make a huge difference.  I live in Northern California, so my coop is basically a frame made of repurposed pipe, covered with chicken wire, and one end covered with repurposed corrugated steel, and a old wooden door.  Even the new chic wing cost me less than 100.00. made pretty much the same way, except the corrugated steel is on the bottom buried in the ground a foot to protect the chickens from predators.  I'm also in an area without a lot of predictors, so I can get away with a dirt floor.
Your comment made me realize this kind of coop works great for me where I live, but in a colder climate it wouldn't be even close to warm enough.  So I guess again where you live , how much land you have, access to materials, it's all relevant to what you build, and how much it cost to build it.  
Unfortunately the only totally true answer to the question Does keeping chickens actually save money ? Would be it depends.  Not an answer anyone wants to hear.



Jen, that's absolutely right.  In your climate, it may well be very cost effective to build a coop and have chickens.  With less cost for the coop and a longer growing season to offset food costs for your birds, I can see how someone there could make money with them.  In my climate with our short growing season, I have to buy a lot more food and the coop has a lot more material cost.  I need a better foundation or the frost heave will have my building crooked and falling apart.  I'm okay with all that, it's just part of having the birds.  I like them and I'm not overly concerned about those costs because of the other reasons I mentioned.  I have to admit to having some amount of envy for your situation though :)
 
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Short answer is no.  
Having raised chickens for over 10 years, I can't eat eggs from a supermarket.
Regarding soil, bugs, etc.,  they are worth it.  
You might make money from the eggs depending upon where you sell them.   Some are able to make $4.00 per dozen.   In our area its $2.00
My chickens are free range and I feed them the highest quality of feed I can afford.  Its up to $20 per 40 pounds.  
I have two flocks going , one laying, the other will be laying in another month.  I have eggs all year doing this.  We cull them about every other year.   We raise meat chickens for the freezer each year that are expensive to raise, which is a third flock.   (And 10 turkeys).  
We are cash poor and eat very well.  
 
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Agreed. I would add it's a good form of insurance for when/if the SHTF. 5 grams of protein per egg!
 
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