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

Predators

Hi there folks, while at the cemetry in Southend, I got talking to a lady about plants that rabbits wouldn’t eat, as the cemetry is overrun with rabbits, and most flowers that the loving families place on the graves, are demolished the very same night, so I put a small spikey succulent type plant on my fathers grave to deter the little furry critters. I noticed the grave the lady was tending was in full bloom, several flowering plants, so I asked her how she stopped the rabbits from eating them, ‘ Dog hair’ she said, she combs hair from her sisters greyhounds and places it around the area of the grave and plants, she reckons the rabbits smell the dog hair and believe it could still be close so they go and eat someone else’s plants. Maybe this theory can be transferred to other predators, i.e essence of cat to keep vermin away, essense of foxhound etc etc. Maybe these products are already on the market somewhere, please let me know if you know of any.

 I’m am faced with a tricky one when it comes to the swamp hens, as if it repells them it may repell the girls too, maybe a visual deterant might be better, like a cut out of a cat in the garden, a scarecat mounted on a spring to give it movement.

I raced out this morning apon hearing one of the girls doing her best alarm call yet, not to find Pukeko’s raiding the nest or rats stealing their food, but all the noise was to alert me to the fact that the chicks were out roaming the garden, Nancy the ‘ Boss’ was most upset that the chicks were in HER garden, was wasn’t happy until i had put them back into the brooder, infact she wasn’t happy then either as she stood infront of the brooder reading out more of the riot act to the chicks, until some feed was produced and she forgot all about it.