It’s been over 6 weeks since the young ladies moved to the wood and finally we have an egg! Even though I have had chickens most of my life I was super excited to discover our new flock had produced after a long wait.
But does keeping hens really save money? After 6 weeks of waiting, over 1 bag of food devoured and with just the one hen laying it has made me contemplate whether keeping hens is cost effective.
I did a few calculations to work it out. These are the fixed figures
• Initial cost of hens £10 each
• 1 bag of food lasts about a month £10 which works out at £1.67 per month per hen
• Average of 300 eggs laid per hen per year
• One free range egg from Tesco is 17p (based on one egg from a box of 6)
From these figures I have worked out that each hen needs to lay 62 eggs to balance out the initial cost to purchase them. They then need to lay 10 eggs per month to cover the cost of their food. So, in the first year, each hen needs to lay 182 eggs to cover their purchase and keep.
The remaining 118 ‘free’ eggs that each hen will lay over the next 12 months would have cost £20.26 if I were to have purchased them from Tesco. That’s a total of £120.36 saving for all the ‘free’ eggs from the 6 hens.
The next factor to be taken in to consideration is the potential money that could be made from selling surplus eggs. If we were to eat only 20 eggs between us each month we would potentially have 130 eggs to sell! If we were to sell half a dozen for £1, like Tesco, we could make £21 per month.
So it is worth, for me, when the costs are broken down like this. Obviously, there are variables that I haven’t taken into consideration such as:
• Actual numbers of eggs the hens will lay
• Actual number of eggs I would be successfully sell
• Vet fees and medicine costs
• Water costs (we are on a meter)
• Loss/replacement of a chickens from the flock
There are other costs that people could incur, that I fortunately don’t, such as bedding costs (wood shavings are a by-product for the firewood processing) and land rental. The number of hens kept would also change the figures –obviously the more hens, the more eggs to sell for example.
Having worked out the figures I now feel confident about the viability of keeping hens. But there are also the environmental and emotional benefits too- they make me happy and it’s another step closer towards a more sustainable life. I know my hens are happy and will have good lives but I don’t truly know how Tesco free range hens live. I could go on…
PS. Do you keep hens? If so, how does your costs and income balance out?
PPS. I hope my calculations are correct. Maths isn't my strong point!