University of Maryland Extension

Economics of Small Poultry Flocks

Whether you view your small poultry flock as a hobby or a significant contribution to the family diet, it is useful to estimate the costs of maintaining the flock. The following budgets for layer and broiler flocks (Tables 2 and 3, respectively) were developed by Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist for the University of Maryland Extension. They are based on his personal experience in raising layer and broiler flocks and in consultation with other producers. Small flock production is highly variable and good management is important for efficiency. Some producers will be much less efficient than what is reflected in these budgets while other producers will be more efficient. Following each of the budgets are a set of assumptions in which the budgets are based. These explanations will assist you in calculating your own numbers. You are encouraged to estimate your own budgets based on the number of laying hens or broilers that you are planning to raise. You should also consider your level of experience and your availability of inputs.


Table 2. Small Layer Flock Budget (2010) - 25 hens, 2 years production (1)

Dozen Eggs Produced (2)       800
Stewing hens       20
  Unit  Amount Price Total
Cash Expenses        
Chicks (3) per chick 25 $2.00 $50.00
Feed        
Chick Starter 50 lb bag 3 $13.00 $39.00
Early Bird Grower 50 lb bag 5 $12.00 $60.00
Layer Feed (4) 50 lb bag 80 $11.00 $880.00
Heat bulb (5) per bulb 1 $7.00 $7.00
Mileage to slaughter facility (6) miles 40 $.50 $20.00
Slaughter fee per bird 20 $2.00 $40.00
Total Expenses       $1,096.00
Total cash expense per dozen       $1.37
Other Required Resources        
Housing start-up costs (8)       $750.00
Feeder and Waterer start-up costs (9)       $75.00
Labor Hours (10) hr/day .25 730 182.5

Assumptions

1. This budget is based on a two year lifespan. Some producers keep hens 3-4 years but eggproduction will diminish dramatically.

 2. Production is calculated as 550 days x 25 hens x 70% egg yield. Out of two years, 180 days are required for raising chicks and molting. A 20% mortality over the life of the flock is factored into the egg yield. This egg yield also assumes supplementary lighting in the winter.

3. Chick prices are highly variable. Local hatcheries often have cheapest chicks. Make sure quality is good and chicks are vaccinated for Marek’s disease.

4. Bagged feed from a reputable feed company. Also include crushed oyster shell to maintain calcium levels for layer hens. The feed conversion ratio in this budget is about five pounds of feed to one dozen eggs (50 lbs per week per 25 hens). Use good feeders to reduce waste.

5. Heat bulbs generally last one flock. Careful handling may extend life.

6. Many backyard producers prefer to have birds slaughtered by someone else. If this is your desire, then make sure there is a facility within reasonable distance.

7. Twenty stewing hens based on 20% mortality over life of flock.

8. Housing expenses are highly variable. This budget includes a chicken coop ($500) and poly wirenetting electric fence ($250). Both will last several years.

9. Feeders and waterers, an estimated cost of $75, will last several years.

10. Fifteen minutes a day to take care of flock. This includes feeding, and collecting and washing eggs. It is obvious that valuing labor would keep most small flock producers from raising layers if they were doing it for economic reasons.

Table 3. Small Cornish Cross Broiler Flock Budget (2010) - 50 birds, 10% mortality (1)

Dressed lbs produced (2)    7 lbs/ bird  45 birds 315
         
  Unit  Amount Price Total
Cash Expenses        
Chicks (3) per chick 50 $1.00 $50.00
Feed        
Chick Starter (4) 50 lb bag 3 $13.00 $39.00
Early Bird Grower 50 lb bag 4 $12.00 $48.00
Bird Finisher (4) 50 lb bag 5 $11.00 $55.00
Heat bulb (5) per bulb 1 $7.00 $7.00
Mileage to slaughter facility (6) miles 40 $.50 $20.00
Slaughter fee per bird 45 $2.00 $90.00
Total Expenses       $309.00
Total cash expense per dozen       $.98
Other Required Resources        
Housing start-up costs (8)       $200.00
Feeder and Waterer start-up costs (9)       $75.00
Labor Hours (10) hr/day .3 70 21

 

Assumptions


1. Many backyard producers experience up to 10% mortality or higher; however, good management may reduce the mortality rate.

2. This budget assumes it takes 10 weeks to grow straight-run (male and female mixed) birds to an average weight of seven pounds dressed weight. Slaughtering at lighter weights will require less time and feed.

3. Chick prices are highly variable. Local hatcheries often have the cheapest chicks. Make sure quality is good and that chicks are vaccinated for Marek’s disease.

4. Bagged feed from reputable feed company. The feed conversion ratio in this budget is about two pounds of feed to one pound dressed weight. This is assuming that birds are on pasture for about six weeks and receive 10%-20% of their diet requirements from pasture.

5. Heat bulbs generally last one flock. Careful handling may extend life.

6. Most backyard producers prefer to have birds slaughtered by someone else. If this is your desire, then make sure there is a facility within reasonable distance.

7. Whole birds bagged in loose plastic bags. Vacuum bags will cost $0.50 - $0.75 more per bird.

8. Housing expenses are highly variable. This budget includes a pasture coop which cost $200 to build(not including labor) and will last several years.

9. Feeders and waterers, an estimated cost of $75, will last several years.

10. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day to take care of flock. This includes moving pasture coop twice a day. It is obvious that valuing labor would keep most small flock producers from raising broilers if theywere doing it for economic reasons.



Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2019. Web Accessibility