But for me, it is not so much creating a farm business, as much as creating a self-sustaining farm. I want all aspects of our homestead to bring in enough income to pay for themselves. That way our homestead doesn’t cost us money- but pays for itself with a little left over as income for us as well.
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.
Make Money Raising Chickens
This one is a no brainer. At one time or another most chicken owners will find themselves overrun with eggs and considering selling the excess to friends and neighbors. We’ve been selling eggs at a local farmer’s market for a couple years now, at it’s a good market to be in. Here in NC, we can sell our eggs for about $3.50-$5.00 per dozen- and that is for conventionally fed birds. You can charge even more for GMO-free or organic eggs. You can also post on your local Craigslist or contact local small markets and restaurants. Plus raising 25 chickens isn’t much different than raising 10….
If you’ve got a rooster- then you have fertile eggs! If you aren’t a breeder, you can probably sell hatching eggs for about the same price you might sell your fresh, eating eggs. If you have a specialized breeding stock and highly sought after breeds you can charge much more. Either way- it’s one more way to make extra money from your birds!
(On a side note, we sell more quail eggs for hatching than we do fresh eating!)
Day Old Chicks
There have been a few times- especially in the late winter, when egg production is picking up and the market season hasn’t started yet where we find ourselves with a lot of eggs. This is a good time to stick them in the incubator! Chick days at the local farm stores usually start in February here in our area- so you can tap into that growing market. You can hatch and sell day-old chicks for a couple dollars each if you are going straight run- a little more if you know how to accurately sex the chicks. This works particularly good if you have a flock that is just one breed- or if you have the ability to breed Easter-Eggers.
You never know- business may take off and you can expand and create a few breeding pens and raise all sorts of different breeds.
Some people just don’t want to deal with raising day-old chicks. They don’t want to mess with heat lamps or the high needs of babies. Many of these people are willing to pay a much higher price to get already birds that are already feathered or even laying. The price range will vary based on your area, but anywhere from $10-25 per bird can be expected. If you have a lot of space and forage this can be a very profitable option for chickens.
We all know that chickens only lay their best for a couple of years, after that they need to be replaced with newer birds if you want to keep egg production up. So what do you do with all those old layers? Well, you can either butcher them for your own soup pot, or you can sell them for others! It’s a nice way to get rid of your old birds and make them an even more profitable part of your farm.
Here at our house, we sell our older layers live. Our birds are all named and loved, so butchering them here isn’t an option for the kids. We sell them for a $3-5 each and operate on a don’t ask, don’t tell basis with the people coming to buy them. My kids prefer to think that they are growing old and living happily on a farm somewhere. But if you choose to butcher them, you can charge even more for birds that are freezer-ready.
Raising broilers is one of the quickest ways to create a business. They only take about 8 weeks to grow to butcher weight. Depending on laws in your area, you can sell straight from the farm and butcher them yourself at home, which will keep your costs much lower. Most areas get between $3-5 per pound or $15-25 per whole bird.
If you already are raising chickens for eggs, you probably already have the brooder, run and coop space to try out the meat bird business in your area.
This may not be a big market, but in the interest of using the entire animal, when it’s molting season, don’t forget to collect the feathers! This is especially true to more flashy breeds and roosters- whose hackle and tail feathers are very popular with crafters.
Check out ETSY or your local craft guild to find crafters interested in purchasing feathers. Or make them into jewelry yourself! I love making earrings with our collected guinea feathers!
By using these ideas you can create multiple income streams from just one animal. This income can turn around and pay for your chicken feed, bedding, and other supplies so that instead of costing you money your chickens will pay for themselves!
© 2016 – 2017, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.