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How much do chickens cost to get?

Setting up a new chicken coop - the cost of getting backyard chickens 

 

Are you thinking about getting chickens for the first time and wondering how much chickens cost? We have made a list of what new chicken keepers need and calculated the cost of all these one-off purchases, as well as the chickens. So now you will know the real cost of getting backyard chickens. 

We have also looked at the different options available for essential items like the coop, feeder and waterer. Some options that are cheap to start off with actually cost you money in the long run. So read on to ensure your start-up costs really are just one offs. 

 

Is getting chickens expensive?

New hobbies can be expensive. But the good news is, chickens can cost as little as the price of the birds themselves. Even if you need to buy a coop, feeder and drinker, there is no reason why setting up a chicken coop needs to cost more than a few hundred dollars. 

And you’ll make this back in no time with the homegrown eggs they provide!

 

One-time costs for a new chicken coop

At a bare minimum, to keep chickens you need a chicken coop. But we would recommend that all new chicken keepers start out with:

  • predator-proof chicken coop that has nest boxes, roosts and enough space for your chickens

  • A chicken feeder 

  • A chicken waterer

  • And chickens, of course!

 

However, if you invest wisely, all of these things are one-off costs and shouldn’t require replacement or repairs for a good many years, if ever! 

 

To set up a chicken coop, you can expect to pay:

The chicken coop

Average cost

Tips to make sure it’s a one-time payment

Budget options

Repurposed or scavenged: $0-200

 

A home-build with new materials: $250-500

 

Bought coops: $60-3000

Ensure your coop is predator- and rodent-proof from the outset, so you don’t have to retro-fit it. Buy a slightly larger pen than you think you need, as flocks have a tendency to expand. 

 

Cheapest isn’t necessarily best, particularly with pre-made coops. If buying a coop choose good quality metal or hardwood. Softwoods, like treated pine or cedar, rot within a few years. And cheap metals rust.  

Chicken coops can be free if you (have the skills to) make one yourself from repurposed, recycled or donated materials.

 

If you are willing to do the work, but are less of an innovated builder or dedicated scavenger, you might spend $100-200 on materials. 

 

Old dog houses, cubby houses and garden sheds can be easily turned into a chicken coop. And materials can often be gotten for free or cheap from roadside throw outs, salvage yards or builders.

 

A fairly cheap chicken coop can also be built from new materials. 

 

The chicken feeder

Average cost

Tips to make sure it’s a one-time payment

Budget options

$10-150

Buy a feeder with a life-time guarantee, made out of top quality materials. Cheap plastic disintegrates in a year or two, and feeders with moving partswill eventually seize up and need replacement.

Budget feeder options cost you more money in the long run.

 

Many people just scatter feed on the grass. This doesn’t cost anything but there are a couple of problems:

 1. Chickens pick up parasites and diseases, which can affect their health and egg production

 2. Your birds don’t have free access to food and may not get enough for optimum production. Those at the bottom of the pecking order probably won’t get much at all! 

 

Some keepers use free containers like old ice cream or yoghurt containers. While this saves money on a feeder, it has the same problems as feeding on the ground. Plus chickens will scratch the feed out of the container and onto the floor, resulting in wasted feed and wasted money. 

 

The chicken waterer

Average cost

Tips to make sure it’s a one-time payment

Budget options

$5 -150

Like feeders, buying a high-quality drinkermade of industrial grade plastic means that it will go the distance, saving money in the long run.

The cheapest option for a chicken drinker is an ice cream container or bucket cut in half. But like budget feeders, these options aren’t ideal. Chickens can spill their water and become dehydrated. Or it can be contaminated with dirt and droppings, causing disease.

 

The chickens

Average cost

Tips to make sure it’s a one-time payment

Budget options

$5-150 per bird

Get sexed chicks so you don’t end up feeding a bunch of roosters you will have to give away.

 

To be a one-off cost, choose a breed that is known to be good mothers, get a rooster, and you’ll have a self-multiplying flock.

Day-old-chicks are the cheapest option, but require more care. Pullets may be a better choice as they are hardier and closer to laying.

 

If getting chickens from a backyard breeder, or even a professional, choose someone with a good reputation.For advice on buying healthy chooks, click here.

 

How much does chicken fencing cost?

The only other start-up cost that you need to consider for keeping chickens is fencing. 

If you have yard that is already fenced, you may not need any fencing. Or perhaps you will just need to chicken-proof your existing fence.

If you live on acreage, you could let your chickens free-range. But they can destroy gardens and move mulch, so you may wish to fence them into one area, or out of others. 

Chicken-proofing an existing fence is cheaper than building a new one. And, of course, you can always cut costs with posts from salvage yards etc.

Fence costs are:

  • Chicken wire - $1.50-2.00 per metre

  • Posts (star pickets) - $5-15 each

 

The total cost of setting up a chicken coop 

If you DIY, setting up a chicken coop complete with 6 pullets might cost $70-150. 

If you buy good-quality everything, which will last for decades, setting up a chicken coop complete with 6 pullets might cost $400-500. 

If you do a mixture of DIY and buying things, you’re looking at somewhere in between. And given all the unique benefits of keeping chickens – and believe us, it’s more than just the eggs – this cost is a completely worthwhile investment for your family!