Backyard chicken coops are becoming far more commonplace, with many households utilizing them as a source of fresh eggs and poultry. But if you’ve never owned live chickens before, you might wonder how much a live chicken costs and where to find them.
How much does a live chicken cost? A live chicken can cost as low as $4 to more than $2,000. However, the cost of a live chicken varies depending on age, breed, and location. For example, the Rhode Island Red is usually the least expensive. The cost of live chickens purchased online may vary, depending on the delivery costs.
This article will explore everything you need to know about live chicken costs, common chicken breeds, and live chicken suppliers. It’ll also discuss the initial and long-term costs of raising chickens. That way, you can grow your brood with confidence and ease.
How Much Are Baby Chicks?
The average price for a chick is about $4, making them relatively inexpensive. However, prices can vary depending on location and chicken breed. Typical backyard chicken breeds are the most affordable, but some chickens, like the Ayam Cemani, can be pretty expensive, up to $5,000 per pair.
As such, those looking to spend less on baby chicks should gravitate toward breeds like the Rhode Island Red or Buff Orpington. These are some of the most common and inexpensive chicken breeds throughout the US and Europe.
How Old Are Chicks When You Buy Them?
Recently purchased chicks can be a few days or weeks old, depending on where you get them. Generally, agricultural stores and feed markets sell baby chickens at least 2-3 weeks old. However, online or mail-order chicks are typically shipped when they’re only a few days old.
If you’re buying a significant amount of baby chicks at one time, you may want to choose to place an order. Still, it’s crucial to note that recently hatched chicks are more prone to illness and death.
When you purchase chicks in bulk, the sellers may overfill the shipping container, making it difficult for chicks to survive. But when you buy from your local feed store, you’re reducing the chance of receiving dead chicks.
How to Choose Chicken Breeds?
There are dozens of established chicken breeds, and new or hybrid breeds emerge every few years. Consequently, choosing the right breed for your backyard or farm can be challenging. Still, there are a few ways to narrow down your choices and select the optimal chicken breed.
When choosing chicken breeds, consider how much they cost, what you need the chickens for, their personality, and the environment that best suits them.
Environment and Purpose
Each chicken breed has a preferred environment, unique personality type, and purpose. For example, some chickens do well in warm environments, while others prefer colder climates. Additionally, some chickens are bred for meat production, while others are dedicated egg layers.
If you’re thinking of keeping backyard chickens, you’ll want to consider their personality. While common breeds like the Rhode Island Red are known for their friendly nature and quiet dispositions, other breeds can be quite aggressive.
As mentioned earlier, many common breeds are relatively inexpensive. These chicks can sell for as little as $4. But fancy breeds can fetch a high price, with some adult hens and roosters costing well over $2,000.
Intention and Preferences
Backyard chickens that belong to households with children should be docile and capable of surviving their new home climate. If you’re raising chickens for meat or egg production, you’ll want to select breeds that are notable for their large breasts or superior egg-laying abilities.
When to Buy Chicks?
Typically, the best time to buy chicks is at the end of the winter season. Many animals, including chickens, tend to produce offspring during the spring season. When you purchase your chicks between March and June, you’ll have a broader range of options and breeds.
Still, thanks to domestic and international shipping, it’s possible to purchase chicks all year round. However, the healthiest chicks often emerge during the springtime after temperatures have increased.
Shipping baby chicken in the middle of winter can lower the percentage of live chicks you receive. Remember, the transportation process is exceptionally stressful for baby chicks, especially those that are recently hatched.
Where to Order Chicks Online?
You can easily order chicks online via your preferred web browser. It’s best to order from local or in-state suppliers. That’s because long-haul shipping often results in a significant number of dead chickens upon arrival.
Fortunately, there are reputable online suppliers located in nearly every region of the US. As such, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to order live chickens from a location near you.
Though most hatcheries only have a single location, Stromberg’s Chicks & Game Birds Unlimited is one notable exception. They’re located in six states and serve every region. You can find their hatcheries in:
Long-Term Costs of Raising Live Chickens
Before you purchase baby chicks, hens, or roosters, you’ll want to consider the initial and long-term costs of owning chickens. After all, your poultry will need a place to live and food to eat.
- Housing: The highest initial cost tends to be housing. Building a chicken coop (or purchasing a pre-made coop) can cost several hundred dollars. Naturally, the size of your chicken coop and the materials you use will determine the overall cost of setting up an enclosure.
- Fencing and netting material: You may also need to purchase fencing and netting material to keep your chickens from roaming free. This can easily add another few hundred bucks to your initial investment. But housing a containment isn’t the only thing you’ll need to have ready.
- Necessities: Those looking to raise chickens will also need to invest in chicken feed, dry hay for the coop, nest boxes, and multiple foods and water bowls. It’s also an excellent idea to put aside money for medical emergencies.
- Health: Your new chickens may arrive with parasites and bacterial infections. Treating these sooner rather than later is vital to the overall health of your flock and can help you avoid costly issues further down the line.
Why Is It Beneficial to Own Live Chickens?
It’s beneficial to own live chickens as it can lessen your dependence on supermarket goods. Raising live chickens is also a great way for adults to teach children about basic animal care. Homeowners that would like to add a backyard coop could also enjoy fresh eggs nearly every day.
Additionally, those raising chickens for slaughter may find that their livestock is exceptionally profitable. While laws and regulations regarding the sale of homegrown chicken meats vary from state to state, many may find that they’re able to sell their butchered goods at a reasonable price.
Whether you’re interested in owning live chickens for their companionship, eggs, or meat, there’s an ideal breed for your purposes. Choosing the right chicken breed can help ensure that your chicken-raising experience is a positive one.
A live chicken can cost anywhere between $4 and more than $2,000. Price often depends on the chicken’s breed, age, and gender. Common chicken breeds tend to be the most affordable, with eggs and baby chicks being the least costly option.
Rare breeds can be incredibly pricey, especially if you’re purchasing a pair of breeding adults. The Ayam Cemani, for example, costs about $5,000 per pair. Potential owners should also consider long-term costs such as housing and feed.