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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chickens, You May Stay

I have been keeping careful records to see which of the things we are doing are profitable and which aren't. This month, I am happy to report, our chickens made it into the black. They had a bit of catching up to do since we had to spend some money on making their pen, but they have now laid their way into our pocketbook.

Here are some figures from our chicken endeavor up until the beginning of October.

Chickens and Eggs
  • 6 old hens = free from Ethan's uncle. One died. Replaced it but new one didn't blend in. Gave it away. We now have 5 old hens.
  • Eggs laid = 798
  • Eggs given away to friends, family, and people who helped us in some way = 13 1/2 dozen
  • Eggs we kept and ate = 53 dozen

  • Given by friends, family and businesses = waterer, feeder, grit feeder, old boards and tin, old wire, nesting bedding, nesting buckets
  • bought = remaining wire, hardware and wood $42.25

  • bought 100 lbs chicken feed(2 different mixes) = $20.32 of feed
  • chicken feed given by Ethan's uncle = about 150 lbs
  • free = kitchen scraps and leftovers (no poultry products to avoid disease)
  • provided by God's creation while we moved the pen daily = fresh grass and bugs (about 30% of diet)

    So here is how I figured that the chickens have now made it into the black. We spent $62.57 on them by the end of October. We kept 53 dozen eggs for ourselves by the end of October. When we first started keeping chickens, eggs were selling for $1.25/doz at the grocery store. 53 dozen eggs would be worth $66.25, more than what we have in them. I feel that I am being conservative though, since I didn't count the 13 1/2 dozen eggs we gave away, nor did I adjust the price of eggs according to what they are selling at now. Last time I was in the grocery store, medium eggs were going for $1.87/doz and large eggs over $2.00/doz. (I think I need to keep a better eye on prices to help our records be more accurate - this time it was in our favor.)

    Keep in mind too, that this is comparing our chicken eggs to the price of store eggs. I don't believe that store eggs should be able to be considered as equal due to the vast nutritional differences in the eggs, but I did for the sake are argument. I also didn't add in the services the chickens provide of thatching the lawn, fertilizing the lawn (and garden), pest control, and being conversation starters.

    You might notice that we were given a lot of things and might argue that I should add those into expenses. Well, the way we view farming is to keep your inputs low to make your profits high. If you are able to do that by being innovative and by asking around for scrap materials and unused equipment from people you know (or don't know!), then it will have an effect on your profits. I believe that should be shown and not hidden.

    We are now trying to get them ready to winter over. It will be interesting to see if they are worth keeping over the winter when they don't have grass and bugs available to eat and when egg production slows down. We are also continuing to experiment with different feeds. We have noticed a difference in egg production and rate of feed consumed with the 3 different feeds we have tried. The feed Ethan's uncle gave us is by far the best. Another thing we might do is get a new batch of younger birds in the spring.

    So there you go. Now we are in the black with our chickens. We celebrated by eating omelets for supper and plan on having chickens again next year.

    Next to get in the black, the cows . . .

    sugarcreekfarm said...

    So how old are you hens?

    sugarcreekfarm said...

    Oops, I meant "your" hens!

    The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

    I'm not really sure how old the hens are. They were from Ethan's uncle also. They are at least 2 years old, and I wouldn't be surprised if you could add a few more years to that.

    I'm not telling how old I am either! :)

    Walter Jeffries said...

    Love your egg boxes for the laying hens. I'm going to adapt that to our hoop house.

    The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

    Thanks. I found that idea through a search on the internet this summer. We got the buckets free from Hy-Vee. A lot of restaurants or places that use frosting will just give them away if you ask. Beats buying wood to make one.

    The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

    I also thought I would mention about the nest boxes, that the wood behind them is hinged so we can flip it open and get the eggs out without going into the coop. Another great internet find!

    ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ said...

    Bekkah -- keep those buckets in mind. If you start grinding your own wheat -- buying in bulk in 50# bags -- then you can open a bag and pour it into one of those buckets with a nice lid and keep the critters out of your wheat! Ü

    HEY!! Thanks for doing this... I'm going to show this to Dan. He's the chicken man... wants me to do chickens. We'll see... ;D

    See you Wednesday!

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