The hottest topic in Montana right now seems is egg prices. We're rocking 6 bucks a dozen as the average price. I see a few folks on line talking about how they're going to raise their own chickens to combat high egg prices.
As a kid who raised chickens, I'm not so sure that would actually be cheaper, so I dug into it.
An Open Letter To People Who Want To Raise Their Own Chickens
ALWAYS FIRST, before you even delve into this, check your city or country chicken laws.
Keep in mind, chickens require daily care. There is a lot a lot a lot of cleaning that has to happen. There are also health issues, parasites and such to be aware. Chickens are smart and not always nice. In fact, they can be quite aggressive. Another thing to mind is that while a laying hen can be a producer for up to 10 years, there is a 2 year sweet spot where they produce the most eggs. Then, what are you going to do with that 8 year old hen that's not laying anymore and pretty skinny that you named Gladys? I think you know what usually happens to hens that don't produce. Welcome to the farm. Which also means that you need to regularly add more chickens to your flock.
The Pioneer Chicks have a great page to get you started. They go anything from chicks and up, I'm going from fully grown laying hens. The prices quoted will be the lowest I can find on the internet. They didn't have anything about lighting, so I'd ask your local co-op about that. We had lightbulbs running in our coop on the farm and I think it was 24/7 or close to it.
Basics To Get Started
Laying Hens $20-$50 each
Chicken coop Amazon has one for $165 It only holds up to 4 chickens. We'll go into that later
Roosts The Cheapest one on Amazon is about $10.
Droppings board most of what I found was DIY, but don't underestimate their importance due to that fact
Nesting boxes Amazon, has one for about $30 and it's for 3 chickens
Enclosure Amazon has one for about $180
Cleaning supplies Amazon has it starting at $20
Feeders and Waterers Amazon has them starting at $20
Litter (Sand, shells,straw, large flake wood shavings) Amazon has it starting at $27 remember, you have to change this A LOT
Grit Bin Amazon has them starting at about $20
Dust Bath (loose sand or dirt) Amazon has them starting at $20
Optional, wire and carabiners Not expensive, you can get them anywhere.
To get a DOZEN EGGS a week, you need 3-5 Laying Hens. Not every chicken is the same.
Grand total, not counting the wire and carabiners, you'd need about $600 to START raising enough chickens to get one dozen eggs a week. And it can be months before you get even one egg.
There is a lot of care and feeding that goes into being a chicken rancher. Click here to get an idea of what goes into it. Neglect and abuse can result in sub par eggs, no eggs or bloody spots in your eggs.
You also need to be mindful of predators that always seem to find your coop. It can range from larger birds like hawks, to dogs, coyotes and foxes who want your chickens, and cute little weasels who want your eggs. Don't forget about bears, racoons and skunks. Click here for the top 10 list.
As with any animal, make sure you are willing to devote time EVERY day. If you're gone, make sure you're willing to pay someone to care for them.