Chickens: The Gateway Drug of the Homestead


Chickens are usually the first animals on a homestead... and for good reason! Eggs are awesome, chickens are fun, and it is the cheapest way to get into raising your own food.

Why Chickens?

Chickens are inexpensive, easy, and productive. They are fun as pets, and entertaining to watch. They eat anything from bugs to leftover spaghetti, and produce (depending on the breed) an egg a day.

Our Experience

Our first foray into chickens was a stop at the feed store where I bought 3 chicks for a few bucks a piece. I set them up in an unused hamster cage, and they did really well there until they were big enough for the big coop. AFTER we bought them, we did the research and discovered it’d be at least 4 months before they gave us our first egg… so we went to auction and bought 3 laying hens for about $12 each.

We really loved our girls, and unfortunately, a house fire made us get rid of them. But… we are ready to take the plunge again! Here are some details for raising chickens!

jaylin big b

Cost (for 6 hens)

We repurposed an old broken dresser into a coop for the ladies, used a new roll of plastic chicken mesh and some recycled building parts, and viola… coop! In total, it cost about $40. We had plastic siding on top for a roof and 4×4 posts. The whole coop measured 4×6 feet. Of course you can buy chicken coops, brand new or used on Craigslist, and they go from $100 to $1,000!

The chickens will need bedding, and hay or cedar are both good choices. We used hay, because it was cheaper and went a longer way.

Our back yard was fenced, and we let them out for a few hours a day to forage for bugs and grass. One thing to understand is that the place that the coop is will look like a post-apocalyptic wasteland in a matter of days!

Setup: coop, bedding, feeders/waterers:                                            $80

Chickens (3 hens, 3 chicks)                                                                   $45

Feed: 50# bag Layer Crumbles                                                             $15/month

Net:                                                                                                             25 +/- eggs/hen/month

carton eggs

It really doesn’t cost much to keep them happy. String up a head of cabbage and they play with it like a tether ball. Freeze some blueberries in water in a bowl and they have a great summer treat that keeps them busy. Give them a handful of meal worms and watch them go nuts! And the funniest thing… chickens eating spaghetti. It is hilarious!!

Other things that you may need are white vinegar, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils to keep fleas, ticks, and mites away.

The Conclusion

For us, chickens really were the catalyst to us wanting to move to the country and start our own homestead. They are so much fun, and useful! But a word of warning… they can be addictive!

Next on our list – we are thinking either a couple goats or a couple pigs. I think that will depend on what type of property layout that we end up with. Long term, we would also like a cow, but we really need to take baby steps!

If you have livestock, what was your first animal? Would you do it that way again?




About brandeekins

I'm a child of God, wife, Mom and step mom of 7 (!), knitter, crocheter, and maker of hairbows and afghans. I am living through heart failure and bi-polar disorder at the ripe old age of 40something. I am a car singer, cupcake baker, Pinterest loving former nurse that takes great pride in her faith, family, and abilities. Disabilities be damned.

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