Today a friend of mine expressed his anguish at having to pay $7 for a dozen eggs. I joked that it would probably just be cheaper to buy a chicken, but then really started thinking about it. Would it actually be cheaper to have your own chickens instead of getting your eggs by the dozen at the store?
Is it cheaper to own chickens instead of buying eggs?
First, Can You Own A "Backyard Chicken" In Texas?
It would be wise to check with local ordinances, but for the most part it is legal. For the sake of this thought exercise, we won't get into the deep specifics of various city ordinances. Just know, before you go out and buy a chicken thinking you'll get some cheap eggs all willy-nilly that you need to check with whatever city you live in.
So, for now, we'll just pretend that you have an adequate space and legal right to own a chicken.
There's More To Getting Eggs Than Just Owning A Chicken. You Need A Coop.
There is a decent amount of start up costs involved. The more you can do on your own the better.
To start, you'll need a coop. You can order one or purchase one already built, and you can pay someone to build one for you. These options are, of course, more expensive than building one on your own. Chicken coops can be awfully expensive.
One of the suggestions I came across said to find pallets and use those to build your chicken coop.
You'll Need Bedding, Feed, And There's Other Expenses For Chickens
You're going to need more than one chicken. From everything I've been able to look at, you'll get around one egg per chicken per 24 hour period.
That's not much.
So you buy four chickens, let's say for $30 per bird. That's the cheapest I was able to find point-of-lay hens, which are ready to lay eggs. There's $120.
These four chickens will need bedding in your coop. They'll need feed and water.
One figure I've seen for a year's worth of feed was around $60. It costs roughly $0.15 per day to feed your chickens.
Another expense that is mentioned is vet bills. It is mentioned time and time again that chickens have an easy time picking up parasites and other illnesses. You'll need to budget that in.
Is It Cheaper To Own The Chicken Or To Buy The Eggs?
Let's run down the costs. Let's say you wind up spending around $100 on supplies for your coop.
- coop - $100 (remember, we decided to DIY a coop from pallets, but we need some supplies and let's say we bought a cheap water system)
- feed - $60
- vet - $100 (just a nice round figure)
- chickens - $120 (four point-of-lay hens)
- other costs - $50
We come out roughly at $430 to get started for your first year owning a chicken...roughly. Again, these are just some ballpark numbers.
The cost of a dozen eggs, going from my phone call this afternoon, is $7 a dozen. Let's say your family goes through a dozen a week. That's $28 a month for eggs, or $336 a year.
It's not cheaper your first year, but after that it does seem like it might be a way to save a few bucks.