Pages

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Inexpensive and healthier eggs! Great fun too!

I said that that this week would be devoted to some of the frugal things we do as a family. A few of the things we do will seem quite different than what the norm is, but I figured it would be fun to share regardless.

I thought I would introduce one of the things that has saved our family a good bit of money for my Works for me Wednesday post. What works for me is chickens!

Yes, you read right. I did say chickens. Most people think "No way, not me, we live in the city," or they think that chickens are dirty animals. Well, we have had 2 laying hens now for about a year and I can tell you that they are great pets! They are docile and very peaceful to watch.

The 2 girls we have now give us right at about 1 dozen eggs a week. That would be plenty for the average size family. They only need housing about the same size as an average doghouse.

Many people that have chickens have what's called a chicken tractor. It is basically a portable chicken coop. You move it around your yard every couple of days so that it doesn't kill your grass and gives your chickens access to fertile feeding grounds.

When you have a tractor, the chickens eat the bugs in your yard, fertilize your grass, and give you free range eggs. With the cost of eggs at $2.50-$3.00 a dozen now it is more affordable to have your own chickens and healthier too! We pay right at about $10.00 every 3 months or so for feed. That is for about 12 dozen eggs!This year we have added on to our small flock another 8 baby girls. By the end of the summer we will be getting, on average, 8-10 eggs a day. With our larger than average sized family we will use a good bit of this for ourselves, but we do have a waiting list of people that want to buy the rest. This will pay for any feed we have to buy so it will make our eggs free!

If you live in the city you may still be able to have a couple of chickens. We live right in the middle of town and are able to have as many birds as we want as long as they are penned up. You need to check your local ordinances or call your local animal control to see if your city allows them.

Our girls are really easy to care for. I'd say they are much easier than a dog or cat because they don't need as much attention. No grooming fees, no walking, no chewing up your shoes, no jumping up on your children. Just keep their area clean and give them fresh food and water.

If you're interested in learning more, The City Chicken or The Backyard Chicken are two great places to start looking.

41 comments:

Lady Why said...

Oh, I soooo want chickens!! I live in suburbia but I do have a really large lot. Hmmmm. Do you think I could pull it off?

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Yes, yes, and YES! I wouldn't say we have that big of a lot. Just an average size. Their housing fits right up against the edge of our lot quite nicely. :-)

Phyllis Sommer said...

what a fun idea. i wonder if i could get away with it. i'd have to check the city codes....

Jack's Mommy said...

My granny always had tons of chickens (and a few roosters) when I was growing up - even though she lived in town (she was grandfathered in and allowed to keep them). She also had about 2 acres and the chickens were in the back in a huge fenced in area with a large, large coop. One of my favorite things to do was always go collect her eggs! I wish we could have some chickens...i live about 1/4th of a mile from her old house (she passed away), but I doubt the city would let me get any now..

Cajunchic said...

When we have our own place I would love to do this. When you start selling let me know if you have any surplus. We would like to buy some also.

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

jack's mommy,
That's what we thought for so long too. We were quite shocked that our city allowed them. You'd be surprised how many do. Now that is for hens, roosters are a completely different story.-lol

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Cajunchic, Sure thing! :-)

Nikki said...

I'm so jealous! I would love to have chickens. But we live on an Air Force Base right now. I had never heard of the tractor thing before. That's very clever! I'm going to mention that to my husband. Maybe the next place we live we could have chickens. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Ellen said...

I like the pictures of the chicken tractors. We had too many chickens and a big coop that the foxes got into. It would be fun to have chickens again. I think that I would just have a few and use a chicken tractor next time.

Jane said...

I live in Los Angeles and many people have chickens! Unfortunately, my apartment has a no pets policy! The neighborhood where I teach has a bunch of free range chickens and the dogs go nuts chasing them. They often fly up on the roof! I love watching them from my classroom window. Do you need roosters to get eggs?

Karen said...

Wish I'd have known about the portable chicken coop before I left my nephew build the monstrosity he did by my back door. lol

Dutchnic said...

My chickens work for me too!

mom_of2boys said...

I'd love to have a chicken...well, maybe the eggs. My kids would like the chickens. What a great idea - it could be a money maker too (sell extras to the neighbors).

Alli said...

I've been thinking about this for a while. Hubby's gonna be a hard sell, though. He hates chickens (unless they come boneless, skinless and neatly wrapped). But I might have them read this post.

Now if we could only get a milking cow for all the milk we drink....

Nichole said...

We had chickens when I was growing up. I don't think the management at our apartment complex would be pleased if we started keeping hens on our patio, though! I'll file this one away for the future ...

Anonymous said...

I would love to have some chickens, but sorry to say, there is no way the city of Ft. Lauderdale would allow that. But, we do have monkeys that live at the Bonnet House and wild peacocks that roam (or use to?) the Victoria Park neighborhood.They have lived here for a really long time. Chickens would just never happen. Key West is also trying to get rid of the wild chickens and roosters. But, me, I would love to have some. It would be so much fun.

Debbie :)

Christy said...

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. We are a couple of weeks away from moving to 17 acres and I am looking forward to having chickens! I would love to have them "free range" but felt we should house them as we have coyotes and a bobcat in the woods behind our house. Also, do you need a rooster with the chickens? Blessings, and thank you for sharing the info. Looking forward to checking out the links you shared.

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Hey Jane,
Nope, you don't need a rooster to get eggs. Hens will still lay without a rooster around.

Alli, if I had a yard big enough I might have a milking cow too.-lol

Debbie, too bad your city wouldn't allow them. They are great fun.

Jen @ JenuineJen said...

I read an article about "city chickens" a few weeks ago. It is interestig to hear about someone who is implementing it. It is amazing to hear how much money you have saved. Best of luck as you sell your eggs in the future.

HomeSchool Mommy said...

I would love to have chickens! What exactly do you have to do to keep their area clean? Is it like having dog poop all over your yard? I hate that! Also, do they smell bad? Also, do they attract any type of predator or disease? I'm so interested! I guess I could go google instead of using up your comment space. :)

Pamelotta said...

Your chicken yard is beautiful. It's so simple and neat. Did you get your plans from the links you mentioned?

I am so close to getting some girls myself. The garden, however was first on my list this year. I want to put the chickens where they can go in and out of the garden and take care of the pests, but it will most definitely be a permanent structure.

I also would like to start raising them for meat. Have you tried that yet?

You've got me so excited!

GiBee said...

Do you ever get "sound" complaints from the neighbors?

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

homeschool mommy, if you have them in a chicken tractor you just move it around so the area stays clean. If you have a permanent chicken coop, kind of rake it over and lay down shavings. Our girls do not smell at all, but they live in a clean space. We have visited a man who kept chickens in a filthy coop and boy did it smell! We have no probs in the city with predators, but in the country foxes, coyotes, hawks, racoons can all be a problem.

pamelotta, that is a pic of a fellow chicken friend, not mine. Although ours is similar. Plans are easy to find online. Chickens are great for your garden. One of their favorite bugs to eat are grubs. :-)
Ok, yes we have done some for meat. I thought I would introduce chickens in a gradual way to people though. lol We did them this year for my oldest daughter's 4-H project. I will warn you, they are gross. I don't even see how they are related to our beautiful egg layers. They were very profitable though. We sold 3 chickens at the 4-H auction for $570.00! Gross, but tastes oh so good!

Gibee, our chickens are quieter than any dog out there. They only make a soft clucking noise every so often and the occasional loud cluck right as they lay an egg. They are actually quite peaceful to watch.

Sis Sarah said...

We had a chicken for a while as a pet. There poop is more like duck poop (small, soft) not like dog poop. Our chicken had the whole back yard. He wasn't raised with other chickens, he thought he was a dog and the neighbor dogs and cats learned fast to leave him alone.

He also ate all the bugs in our yard. For the first time ever we had good apples from our apple tree because he ate all the bugs.

Gina said...

How much are chickens these days? I don't wanna pay more than I should, kwim? Thanks for the inspiration!

The Wife said...

Our suburban county charges $3000 just to APPLY for the priveledge of keeping chickens, even if you only want to own one or two! Can I tell you how ready we are to move to the country?? (insert grumbling about beauracratic red tape here)

Thanks for posting about your chickens - we look forward to being able to do this too, someday!

Elizabeth said...

I am VERY interested in more information about this . . . we would love to have our own eggs!! *Ü*

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

gina, Each chick cost a little over $2.00. You can buy one a little older for up to about $5.00 in this area. They are not expensive at all. If you get a baby, read up on how to care for them. They need a source of heat for a few weeks.

the wife, Oh my goodness, $3000! I think that they may just betrying to discourage anyone from ever owning one. Hope you get to move out to the country soon!

The Bayou Belles and Their Beau said...

I had no idea you were a chicken farmer. You continue to amaze me girl. Let me know when I can get some eggs.

Kate said...

Oh, I am so jealous! I want chickens! I've wanted chickens for so long! Last year I read a book by Mary Jane Butters and she said something along the lines of: "All over America there are thousands of women daydreaming about owning their own chickens each minute." LOL...obviously that is so true!

Family O'Foxes said...

What a neat post.

I had a question for you but I forgot what it is...so, I will go back at your post and see if I can remember.

Last week I posted on checking egg freshness for my WFMW.
http://familyofoxes.blogspot.com/2008/04/wfmw-testing-egg-freshness.html

~Amy

Family O'Foxes said...

Oh, now I remember my question for you.
What do you do when you go on vacation? Are chickens like cats where you can leave them with some food and water for a few day sand they are fine? Or they like dogs where you have to some one come in to take care of them?

~Amy

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

family o'foxes,

When we leave we always have someone come to check on them. The feeders hold enough food to feed them, but it's the water that we have someone check. Now, they do have those automatic waterers that some people have. I would think at that point it would be fine to leave for a few days without worry.

Brea said...

We absolutely love our 'girls;' they've become our pets. We've got 6 regular hens that lay, one regular rooster, one bantam rooster, and one bantam hen. We bought several different breeds, so we'd have all kinds of different colored eggs. It's so much fun! And the people that occasionally pay me a few bucks for eggs every few weeks totally cover the chicken feed, because it's so cheap. It's one of my favorite things to do, to sit and watch them cluck around and chase after bugs. :)

Michele said...

It has been our dream to have chickens someday! (and maybe a cow or goat) Right now, we're in a 3rd floor apartment, so it won't work.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I loved reading it! :)

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Blessings,
Michele :)
www.frugalgranola.blogspot.com

Mrs. Querido said...

I'm so bummed! I just called our police department and found out that we can't have chickens in our city...period. *sigh* Maybe we'll just have to move...lol! You make it sound so fun and frugal. Maybe the law will change...

Blessings!

Mrs. Q

Carlie Faulk said...

Check it out - I tagged you!

RainyPM said...

I love your post, thanks for sharing. I am getting excited about getting chickens. What happens if one of the chicks ends up being a male? There's no way my neighbors would put up with roosters and I wouldn't have the heart to kill a chicken just because it turned out to be a boy. Did you have to deal with this?

We made fresh strawberry jam this week and I posted about it in my blog. Yum! I wish we were neighbors and I'd trade you jam for eggs. :)

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

rainypm, we love strawberry jam and we always love to trade too! :-)

About the chicks. When we buy them, we make sure we buy all females. They sell them by female, male, or straight run. Straight run is just an assorted mix of sexes. We buy them from our local feed stores so we skip out on paying shipping and most of the time they only carry the girls.

Now, that doesn't mean that we don't ever get a male in there. We have had two roosters that we gave away on our local freecycle. They are living the great life now, in the country, with lots of girls! lol

Liz said...

I am wondering what you do with the chickens during the winter? Can they survive the cold and snow? Or do you have to live in a more moderate climate to be able to have them? Thanks.

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Hi liz, yes chickens can survive in a colder climate. The thing you have to watch for is that their water doesn't freeze. We don't have that problem here, but they do have water warmers that you can use if it's that cold. You can also put a little heat lamp in there with them if it is a really cold night. Choose a hardier breed if it gets really cold where you are.