As a small scale farmer, there are many days that you work much harder than you actually realize the profit from. Some people want laying age birds but complain about the prices small farmers set for the birds that they’ve hatched and raised. So, let’s do a breakdown of the cost it takes to raise birds from chicks to 6 month old adults.

I did the math for 10 birds. Let’s say I purchased straight run chicks from tractor supply at $7.99 each and I get half drakes and half hens. So start up cost is $79.90 not counting Uncle Sam’s 9% tax on my already taxed dollar. Now our chicks here are raised as naturally as possible. So they get an electrolyte in their water for the first week of life. This is to help boost their immune system. The cost of this from Amazon is a total of $17.28 for a two pouch order. Now, let me clarify, this pouch lasts for several batches of chicks, but for the sake of this example we’ll use the total cost.

The average duckling will eat about 1-1.5 lbs of feed a week for the first 8 weeks. So let’s just say our 10 birds eat 1 lb. of feed per week for the first 26 weeks. 26 lbs x 10 birds is 260 lbs. Divide that by 50 lb bags and we get 5.2 bags so we’ll just round it out to 5 bags. Chick starter is $16 a bag so $16×5 leaves us at $80 in feed cost.

Running a heat lamp costs on average $16 a month in electricity. Let’s just say it’s nice weather and we only have to run the heat lamp for the first few weeks. We’re just going to assume we already have a heat lamp and heat lamp bulbs and not add in that cost. We’re also not going to count the cost of the bedding, feeders, and waterers.

My birds are now 6 months old and it’s time to sell to all those people so desperately searching for laying hens. NO DRAKES, I ONLY WANT HENS! Not many want a drake now days. You can’t hardly give one away but we’ll pretend we’re lucky and got $10 each for our 5 drakes which gives us $50. We sell our 5 hens for the average price of $20 each (which is honestly to low). Now it’s time for the fun part! Let’s do the math! We have $150 from the sale of the 10 birds. We did pretty good right? We paid $79.90 and sold them for $150, that must be a nice profit.

But, not so fast. We have $150 from the sale. We subtract $16 for the heat lamp which leaves us at $134. Still not bad. But let’s keep going and deduct the $17.28 in supplements and $79.90 original purchase price. Let’s now subtract our feed cost of $80. We’re now at -$43.18. Sure doesn’t look like much profit to me, especially when it’s taken 6 months of daily care to get a mere $150 for 10 birds.

Now, every single bird on my property has either been hatched and raised here or brought in as 3 day old chicks from a reputable hatchery. I’ve done this to ensure I have only the healthiest possible birds.

The point of it all is this, thank a farmer! We didn’t choose this lifestyle to make a big profit, we do it because we enjoy it and we like knowing what we’re feeding our families. You eat daily because of farmers and if the grocery stores are no longer available, it’s people like us you’ll be relying on to feed your family. So, don’t be so quick to act like our prices are crazy.

A little bit of simple math goes a long way.