The Cost Effectiveness of Chicken Keeping

Hi chicken keepers, or prospective chicken keepers, I recently read a report from an american publication, about a dispute between neighbours in the city of Salem, where the city by-law says the keeping of farm animals is prohibited, domestic pets only.

 The owner of the hens is disputing that they are penned the whole time, and are no bother to anyone other than herself, the case is pending in court, it appeared that the journalist was pro chicken keeping, until a quote from a professor from some obscure university said ” the cost of purchasing the hens, plus buying a coop, which can run into hundreds of dollars, then the feed and time involved, made it totally inaffective as a cost cutting self sufficient exercise”. Poppycock!!

 I imagine this comment was made through ignorance, that may be the case for the yuppies of chicken keeping, but I suspect most of the coops have been made by the keeper, as most of the increase in chicken keeping is from the undeveloped third world countries, where live chickens are sold to eat, there are no Safeways, Tesco or Foodtown to supply prepared birds in shiny plastic bags, therefore the cost would be smaller than buying from breeders as we do in the western world. As for feed, again with no suppliers of feed in remote areas of the world they rely on there surroundings and scraps from human consumption.

So here’s our financial figures, cost of purchasing hens $96.00 , cost of coop $0.00 (totally recycled materials), cost of feed $2o per month. The biggest cost is TIME, one could argue that one til the cows come home, but lets not bring other animals into it, that will just confuse matters.

The price of half a dozen free range eggs at the supermarket $4.00 (organic $6.00), normally we would have purchased half a dozen in our weekly shopping,  we use more eggs now we have more, in baking cakes and other such delights, we also barter with spare eggs, for home grown vegetables from the neighbours, and sometimes we swap the eggs for gold coins, which you can then use later at shops to buy stuff, like chicken feed. ( all dollars figures mentioned are in NZ dollars).

At the end of the day, our seven hens are less expensive to keep than a domestic cat or dog, however the hens provide food in return, they also add to our wellbeing, they provide secondary products like fertiliser, feathers and meat if you so wish, healthy eggs with maximum omega levels, they are really alot of fun to have around, each with their own character.

So it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start keeping chickens in your back garden, especially if you’re handy with a hammer. The returns are wide and varied, it’s given me the contents of this blog.  As pointed out to me by Karmyn from Oregan, they are also good bug eaters, organic pesticide.

dust bath

dust bath

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Back at the Ranch!

Hi there, well I’m back, where did the time go, I hear you cry, well maybe not, but I certainly am, it seems to have flown by, no sooner had we arrived in the UK, that I wished we would be there for longer, it was and still is a great summer. My 12 year old son had a great time, all the sights of London, and time with his sister and cousins.

Ofcourse apon return the first thing we both did was to say hello to the hens, I do believe they knew it was us who had returned, they all seem fine, although Nancy looks very much in the later stages of moulting, and it seems the chicken sitter has done a fine job, Betty looks as if she has fully grown while we’ve been gone, which in turn has made Manuella the Minorcan, look as if she has shrunk. I shall look for eggs tomorrow, looking forward to fresh healthy eggs again.

It seems as though it has been very wet here, the back garden as turned to mud, although the sun has just poked it’s face out, here’s hoping for a few days sunshine for our return.

 chickens

Chicken Sitter

Hello, as some of may be aware, I am going to the UK for 4 weeks, in about two weeks time, we have been a bit worried about how the girls will cope with us gone for such a long time. We have enlisted the help of a couple of friends, to come over and replace feed and water etc, however they probably won’t interact with the hens as much as we do, when we’re here all day.

So since we got the new feeder, which holds about a weeks worth of feed for them, I ve been trying to avoid contact with them, to an atempt to get them used to the idea that there isn’t going to be someone out with them during the day, giving them scraps of food and so on. We’ll probably find that they have moved out by the time we get back, maybe over to Gary and Gloria, a couple of pensioners who feed Daisy bread on a daily basis. I’m still worried about how they be without us here to look out for them, I’m sure they’ll be fine.

New Feeder

hi there keepers, up until now we have had several home made feeders, fashioned from pieces of plastic guttering or ice cream containers, these have served well, but they weren’t covered, so the weather and other animals would get to the feed, hence costing us more in feed, so we have finally purchased a silo type feeder, it consists of a tappered cylinder in the center, with a shaped bowl underneath, the edges of which curve up to prevent the feed from spilling out, and making it harder for non chicken feeders to get a nibble.

There is a bar hinged on the top, to enable it to be hung a couple of inches off the floor, again to prevent other critters from getting to the feed and it stops the splash from any rain spoiling the feed, the main reason for getting the feeder is that we are going to away for a few weeks visiting family in the UK and Ireland, so we wanted to be able to feed the girls for several days without any one here, then all our chicken sitter will have to do is come around every few days to top up the feeder and water troughs, as we have a creek running through the property and it the rainy season, I don’t think shortage of water will be an issue. I have yet to fill the feeder to capacity to work out roughly how long it last the hens, I’ve been giving them a little time to get used to it, which took all of about 20 minutes, once they had worked out this was the never porridge pot of pellets, the fact that it is a strange grey metal hovering device, no longer seemed to bother them.

 

feeder

feeder

 I have noticed that the sparrows are having a great time at the feeder, I think it will have to go inside the coop?? or maybe a seperate feeding house.

Where have all the Eggs Gone!!!

Hi there keepers, it appears are girls are drying up, I feel for our chicken sitter who has only had the pleasure of two eggs all week, not much of return for 5 days caring for the girls, we knew Nellie had stopped before we left, due we now realise to moulting, big pile of Nellie feathers under the deck.

As we have been away for 5 days , I have no idea if they have moved nest again, or just gone on strike due to the re-introduction of the budget pellets? We just didn’t have the time to drive out to the rural farm shop for the tastier ones. I shall have to observe them in the morning to see what’s going on, other than that nothing to report really, I have a nice tan after 5 days in the sun in the north of the north island, a beautiful spot called Mangawhai Heads, but you don’t want to hear about me, so I shall report on the girls as soon as i know what ‘s going on.

Chicken Colditz

Half way stage of camp Tenko

 

Half way stage of camp Tenko

chicks-n-chickens-012

I’ve had it with retrieving the hens from next door’s gardens, and I’m sure, although they haven’t said anything, the neighbours are fed up of chickens’ droppings on their driveway. So today I started to build a big run, using bamboo, I suppose it’s more chicken Tenko, for those of you familiar with the BBC.

Sooner or later the civil engineers are arriving at my property to carry out some major works on the sewerage pipes at the back of the house, and they are to replace the old pipe that runs across the creek, so the girls would have had to be penned in then, heavy machinery about and big holes.

The larger of the new chicks, who I think is ready for a bigger space, she started clucking today, when she was surprised by my hand reaching in to change the water, also she can be quiet rough with the much smaller chicks, as she scratches at the ground, if one of the little ones are near her feet, they invariably get flicked out the back, in a rather unceremonious fashion.

So if I work on the run tomorrow, being a Sunday,…????, we’ll see, I could have it finished, then Maria can get out and mix it with the big girls, If she’ll mix with non pedigree birds that is, all in all it’s not the ideal I had in mind of the hens roaming around the garden happy to stay put, but this way they still have loads of garden to use, 250sq ft, and we can still let them out into the rest of the garden when we are at home.

Also this should I estimate give me about 5 hours week back, and they will all have to lay inside the run, no more searching for secret nests, although that was great when I did finally find it full of eggs, 9 in total, good day.