Nothing could be more tricky for starters than raising chickens cheaply in the backyard. Eventually, with increased congestion in the urban environment, there is more demand for food as well. But, instead of having your backyard laying around lazily, why not consider poultry farming with a little investment cost.
For instance, in Kenya capital Nairobi, with a small budget, most farmers for backyard chickens have benefited quite a lot in the business. Especially, by starting the Poultry Keeping Projects, selling the produce to city consumers and routinely making profits.
While this type of business project may seem as if left for rural farmers, a shift in the city lifestyle says otherwise. Particularly, with a rise in demand for both fresh and constant farm produce. According to jmexclusives research, 5% of urban dwellers produce food stuffs in their backyards. Of course, apart from raising chickens and herbal or medicinal plants (a multimillion business empire).
But, there are many questions that surround every starter in the business. With this in mind, let’s consider answering a few below and eventually, help you even to get started.
Is Raising Chickens Profitable?
Yes! Of course.
In general, there are countless ways to make money from your homestead. But for me, it is not so much creating a farm business, as much as creating a self-sustaining farm. Be that as it may, I want all aspects of our homestead to bring in enough income to pay for themselves.
Other tangible benefits of raising chickens in your backyard include;
1. Saves us Money
That way our homestead doesn’t cost us money- but pays for itself with a little leftover as income for us as well. And, since chickens are probably the most common homestead livestock, I am going to map out all the ways you can use your chickens to make a profit.
Or at least make them pay for themselves! And remember, while I am going to focus on chickens- this all goes for other poultry too- especially ducks and quail.
2. Source of Food
There’s a lot to like about raising chickens in your backyard. For instance, the eggs are a real temptation—tastier and fresher than any store-bought eggs and better for baking, too.
In addition, the shells, along with the chicken poop, can be tossed right into the compost pile.
3. Raising Chickens improves Soil
Much of the day, the birds entertain themselves, picking at grass, worms, beetles, and all of the good things that go into making those yummy farm eggs. Plus, with their keen eye for insect pests, chickens make for great gardening companions!
4. Source of Income
Eventually, depending on laws in your area, you can sell straight from the farm and butcher them yourself at home. And, which will keep your costs much lower.
Most areas get between Kshs. 300 – 500 per pound or Kshs. 1000 – 2000 per whole bird. That’s profitable, right?
How much does it Cost to Own a Chicken?
According to the frugal chicken, many beginners wonder “How much does it cost to own a chicken?” Like many things in life, you can make raising chickens and poultry keeping as expensive or inexpensive as you want.
On the contrary, it is important to take into account the kinds of things you’ll spend money on and the ongoing costs that come with having a backyard full of fluffy butts.
Buying a baby chicken can cost anything from a few coins to hundreds of shillings (for purebred breeding-quality chickens). On average, though baby chicks should cost less than Kshs. 500 for most chicken breeds.
The specific cost depends on a variety of factors, such as;
- the sex of the chicken (females usually cost more than males),
- how rare the breed is (rare breeds cost more), and
- if it is a hybrid chicken (like an Easter Egger).
Started pullets, which are young female chickens that are about 4 weeks old, cost on average Kshs. 250 to Kshs. 350 each. Whereby, laying hens can cost anywhere from Kshs. 250 (for mixed breeds) to Kshs. 1000 (purebred from a hatchery). Certain breeds, like the All-black Chicken Ayam Cemani, can cost up to Kshs. 500,000!
- Baby Chicks: Starting at Kshs. 100, averaging about Kshs. 500
- Started Pullets (4 weeks – 16 weeks): About Kshs. 1,500 – Kshs. 2,500
- Laying Hens: About Kshs. 1,000 to Kshs. 10,000, depending on the breed
How do you Start Raising Chickens in your Backyard?
Chickens are sociable, so plan to keep four to six birds. They’ll need space—at least 2 square feet of coop floor per bird. The more space, the happier and healthier the chickens will be; overcrowding contributes to disease and feather picking.
Years of trial and error and crazy experiments taught us that there are many cheap or free alternatives to common poultry products.
Although there are some products we couldn’t live without, we’ve found that most of the costs associated with raising chickens and keeping poultry can be cut with some innovation and creativity.
If you want to hatch chicks from eggs (you can get eggs from a local dealer – just make sure the flock has a rooster), you’ll need an incubator. You can read about the best incubators I recommend here, and my favorite incubator here.
Consider the steps illustrated below to get started with raising chickens in your backyard right away.
Step One: Building the Coop and Run
Firstly, you’ll need a chicken coop. It has to hold a feeder and water containers, as well as a nest box for every three hens. It should be large enough that you can stand in it to gather eggs and shovel manure comfortably.
Building a chicken coop is one of the most costly parts of raising chickens. Lumber is expensive, chicken wire is expensive, and hardware cloth? Through the roof! While it’s really tough to eliminate all of these costs of building a coop, there are ways to save.
Avoid Brand New Materials
First off, you need to find yourself a free chicken coop plan. Then try to use secondhand materials as much as possible. Ask friends and family, or better yet, your social media network if anyone has any supplies. Such as chicken wire sitting around that they’re looking to get rid of.
Search craigslist for cheap lumber, or keep your eyes peeled for people throwing out lumber from tearing down sheds, barns, or playsets. You can also put an ad up on craigslist offering your help in tearing down structures if you can have your pick of the resulting lumber.
There are also stores and non-profits that specialize in building supplies on the cheap. Check for a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, this is a great place to get building materials.
Pre-existing building for the Coop
Another option for saving money building the coop is to use a pre-existing building for the coop. I turned our pre-existing garden shed into a coop and built a run on to it. The whole project cost me only about Kshs. 1,500 total because I managed to get all of the lumber and chicken wire for free by asking around.
You’ve also seen people turn kid’s playhouses into coops, use free pallets to build a new coop, some people even turn old swing sets and trampolines into chicken runs! Utilizing what you already have on hand will save you lots of cash.
Step Two: The Coop and Run Interior
Practically anything can be used for nesting boxes. We hung a couple of wooden milk crates on the inside of the coop and filled them with pine shavings. I’ve seen others use plastic buckets turned on their side, plastic bins with a hole cut out of the front, even setting a couple of old tires in the coop and filling them with straw will work.
Even with the nesting boxes, my chickens still prefer to lay their eggs in the nests they’ve made for themselves on the coop floor. Nesting boxes are more convenient to you, the egg collector than they are to the chicken. So, you can make do with anything you have lying around the house that a chicken can comfortably fit into.
In the same fashion, there are many things that can be used as roosts in the chicken coop. Large dowels and 2x4s are a popular choice for chicken keepers, but roosts don’t need to come from the hardware store.
Look around your home and yard for some items that can be used as roosts. Large branches work well, and can often be found in your own backyard, or on a drive around the neighborhood after a storm. Ladders can also serve as roosts if you have a small enough flock. As long as two or more chickens can fit on each rung, they’ll be happy!
If you’re clever enough, you don’t have to buy materials for litter in the coop and run. Here in Kenya, for instance, trees lose their leaves every autumn, and neighbors conveniently bag them up and leave them by the side of the road for the trash companies to pick up.
With this in mind, grab as many as you can and save them to use in the compost and the chicken run. They work best when they’re chopped up because they’re more absorbent and can break down without clumping together.
You can also source other free materials from local companies. If you have a sawmill in your area, you may be able to pick up pine shavings for free or cheap. Look on craigslist and connect with local farmers for a free or cheap source of hay or straw.
Benefits of Gardening while Raising Chickens
Most folks who keep chickens do so largely for the constant supply of fresh eggs, but did you know that keeping chickens can also be beneficial for the garden?
1. Aids in the Mixing of Soil
When the gardening season has finished for the year, let the chickens into your gardening space and watch them go crazy! They’ll uproot the stems and stalks of weeds and gobble up any damaged or overripe vegetables that remain.
Additionally, they’ll eat any weed seeds or insects they find in the soil. And also, they’ll peck apart and digest vegetable remnants, especially broccoli stems, carrot tops, chard, and kale. After that, they’ll scratch the ground and peck out hidden worms or insects, mixing up the soil in the process. All in all, with endless enthusiasm and curiosity.
2. Provides a good Source of Manure
Chickens not only provide a constant supply of fresh eggs but also, produce an endless amount of manure, too. Luckily, chicken poo can be composted, aged, and eventually added to the garden. In about 6 months’ time, you will accumulate about 1 cubic foot of manure per chicken.
On the other hand, during your daily cleaning of the coop, collect and pile up the chicken poop and used bedding materials. The best decomposition occurs when the pile is 2 parts poop to 1 part bedding materials.
Lawn clippings and fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps, as well as leaves, twigs, and shredded paper can also be added into the mix. Soak the pile and, over the next year or so, wet and stir it regularly to add air. A temperature of 130°F to 150°F is recommended to eliminate bacteria.
Luckily for all of us, there are ways to cut costs and save money raising chickens. Because if you’re anything like us, you got yourself a flock of chickens for the free eggs. And then found out you were spending way more money on your chickens than you ever did on store-bought eggs.
As can be seen, apart from utilizing your home garden or backyard for kitchen food produce, such as herbs, you can as well make money raising chickens too.
Whether you want to grow a kitchen herb garden as a hobby or to save money or just for healthier eating, there are plenty of herbs you can grow in your backyard. Whether on your patio or even in your windowsill.
Fresh herbs make recipes taste even better and are great to have around for soups, stews, and salads. Not to mention, while actualizing that, you can simply incorporate the project in raising chickens to make ends meet and make a living.
I hope the above guide was helpful in considering the best way you can utilize your backyard while raising chickens.
However, if you’d like more guidance with more relevant information, please Contact Us. Not forgetting, you can also share your thoughts, contributions or even additional information in the comments box below this post.
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