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How Much Work Is It to Raise Chickens? Are They Worth Keeping?

How Much Work Is It to Raise Chickens? Are They Worth Keeping?

If you are considering raising chickens you maybe wondering how much work it is and are they worth keeping?  As veteran homesteaders, my husband and I have wondered more than a few times if it’s worth our time.

It doesn’t take alot of work to raise chickens.  The daily chores include checking on their feed and water, opening the coop in the morning, collecting eggs and closing the coop at night.   

Below we list the work ttime and ways to reduce the amount of work to raise chickens

Are Chickens Alot of Work?

You’ll spend an average of 15 minutes per day on your chickens.  The tasks include checking on their feed and water, letting them in and out of the coop and collecting eggs.

Here are some ways to reduce the work load:

  • Purchase a large water bucket and feeder.  We only have to fill both once every 7-10 days.
  • If you free range, try an automatic door to save yourself a trip to the coop.  We like this one from Green Garden Chicken.

With these additions to your flock, you’ll only have to visit the coop once a day to collect eggs.  This cuts the time down to about 5 minutes a day.

Cost to Raise Chickens for Eggs

My homestead usually keeps around 12 birds for eggs.  We like Wyandotte chickens because they are mild mannered and lay 200 eggs a year. My family usually eats 6 dozen per month and we sell 6-8 dozen per month.  The cost is going to be an estimate based on my experience and the amount of eggs my family eats.  It will vary based on your family size, the type of birds you have, if they free range and how many eggs they lay per year.

We buy 2 bags of feed a month.  Our birds do free range most of time.  When it’s daylight they are roaming the homestead.  If you can’t let your birds roam free the cost of feed may go up.

Here’s an estimate of the cost to raise chickens for eggs:

  • Baby Chicks – $48 (12 hens times $4 each)
  • Feed – $360/Yr (affiliate links)
  • Water Dish – $10
  • Feeder – $10
  • Coop – $500
  • Heat Lamp – $10
  • Chick Bedding – $10
  • Coop Deep Litter Supplies – $30/Yr

Say you have that chicken for 5 years.  Honestly, if you let them free range, 5 years is a generous number.  Predators usually get our birds before the 5 year mark.  However, the average lifespan of a chicken is 5-10 years.   If your chicken lives for 5 years, the total investment would average $2538 (see table).  If you sell 6 dozen eggs a month at $3/dozen then you’ll make $1080.

5 yr cost:  $2538 – $1080 = $1458 out of pocket expense


5 Year Cost

Baby Chicks $48
Feed $1800
Water Dish $10
Feeder $10
Coop $500
Heat Lamp $10
Chick Bedding $10
Deep Litter $150
Total $2538

Now figure out how many eggs your family buys in 5 years.  My family of 4 eats about 6 dozen a month so this is 360 dozen in 5 years.  If the average free range, organic dozen of eggs cost $4 then I would spend $1440 in 5 years at the grocery store.  So it’s basically the same price to raise chickens and sell some of the eggs vs. buying from the local store.

Now, if you build your own coop (DIY designs) you maybe able to cut the cost.  We built our coop out of pallets and scrap wood.  We only had money in the metal roof, small window, chicken wire and a few 4×4’s.  See our coop here. 

You can also reduce the cost to raise chickens for eggs by growing your own feed and letting them free range.  See our post on “What Do Chickens Eat?”

Cost to Raise Chickens for Meat

The cost is a little different to raise chickens for meat.  You don’t need a coop or nesting boxes since they won’t be laying any eggs.  Most people like to use chicken tractors because meat birds are messy.  They grow quickly, eat alot and go to the bathroom alot.  To keep them cleaner and keep the stinch down, a chicken tractor is the best option.

Here’s an estimate of the cost to raise chickens for meat:

  • Baby Chicks – $80 (20 birds times $4 each)
  • Feed 12 weeks – $ (affiliate links)
  • Water Dish – $10
  • Feeder – $10
  • Chicken Tractor – $50
  • Heat Lamp – $10
  • Chick Bedding – $10

It’s pretty easy to build a chicken tractor.  There’s lots of DIY tractors on the net.  Here’s a few examples from

Raising meat birds does take more work but it’s only for 12 weeks or so.  You’ll spend 20-30 minutes per day moving the chicken tractor and feeding them.  Once they are ready to process, it takes my husband and I about 4 hours to process 20 birds.  This includes vaccum sealing them for the freezer.

Overall, Are Chickens Worth Keeping?

This is a question my husband and I have asked ourselves many times.  We’ve established that raising chickens is about the same cost as buying eggs or meat from the store.  So why are chickens worth keeping?

Here’s a few reasons we’ve experienced:

  • Chickens eat about 112 ticks a day
  • Chickens naturally control bugs,  crickets, grasshoppers, snails, and slugs
  • Chickens fertilize the lawn
  • Chickens spread the cattle manuer around and fertilize the pasture
  • Chickens are entertaining and make great pets
  • Chickens will clean your yard especially if you have fruit trees.  They will eat the fruit before it rots.
  • You’ll have access to fresh fertilizer in their coop
  • Chickens provide eggs and meat

According to the study from the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research:

“Chickens were allowed to scavenge for 3 h among tick-infested cattle in a typical township backyard during the milking period. The numbers of ticks ingested ranged from 0-128, with an average of 28,81 (± 8,42) per chicken. This study has confirmed that chickens are natural predators of livestock ticks and that chickens can be used as part of an integrated tick control plan in urban cattle-management systems.”

The average chicken consumes 28 ticks every 3 hours and about 112 ticks per day.  

This makes chickens very beneficial around a homestead that raises cattle.  Chickens have cut down the amount of ticks on my homestead greatly.  How do I know this?  My family and pets find a lot less ticks on us when we are in the area that my chickens roam.