Best time of year of start raising chickens? How to figure cost of feeding them?

Hi there,

I discovered you guys about a month ago when I started looking into raising chickens here in the NE Heights. We would be starting small and have something modest in mind, i.e. maybe 3 hens, no roosters, just raising them for eggs right now, no aspirations beyond that at this time.

I'm trying to decide if this is something we can reasonably begin now, in the fall, or if it would be better to wait until next spring, after winter. Do we have to buy baby chicks or is it possible to purchase older young hens so we don't have to risk losing the babies to cold weather and then also have to deal with sexing them?

Finally, in deciding whether or not to take this on, I'm trying to do a little bit of cost estimating on how much it will be to keep chickens, but am unsure of how much we'd be spending on average on chicken feed. We also have a veggie and sunflower garden and we compost, so the chickens could certainly get some of their food from this.

Could anyone with more experience weigh in on any of my questions? I'd really appreciate it! :D

Kind regards,

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't have any real calculations for you but I will say that raising chickens, in my limited experience, is not a costly undertaking. We have chickens, including a rooster and we buy 50 pound bags of feed infrequently. They do eat a lot of kitchen scraps and yard greens (grasses and weeds).
You will need to buy or build a coop and maybe a run: we built our coop from scrap wood and it was not expensive at all.

We got our chickens in the spring as three-day olds. They were "sexed" as female but one of our five is, in fact, a rooster (how funny, just as a typed rooster he started crowing) so that is never really 100% certain until later with chicks.

I am sure some more experienced chicken keepers will have lots to add.
Good Luck!
Kristin - did you get chickens yet?

I read once that chicks born in spring are heartier and grow up stronger as they are not using so much energy when they are small trying to stay warm - plus I believe if you wait until spring you will have a bigger variety of chick breeds to choose from...did you have a particular breed in mind?

And I agree with Sarah that cost is not really an issue..
Thank you both for your answers! :)

No, we've decided to wait until spring to look for chickens and spend the extra time building our coop (tractor, actually) and figuring out how many and what kind we'd like.

Did you all buy yours locally or did you order them? Do the local feed stores have different varieties of chicks in the spring, or is there a better place locally to look for chicks? All the hatcheries I've looked into that have many different breeds also have a minimum order of 25 chicks, which is way more than we need (or could possibly keep by city ordinance, anyway.) Any advice there? So far, we like the looks of Rhode Island Reds and Ameracaunas (we went to the fair last week :)!)

Getting your first chickens is so fun!!! And while building to the coop/run can be a challenge, it is fun, too. I actually got my chickens through FreeCycle, but know that most of my chicken friends got their birds at local feed stores so they didn't have to order 25 birds - which is a lot. If you find some friends who are also looking to start chicken keeping, you can think about sharing a shipment. But there are plenty of chickens at the feed stores who need homes. Also, the cost isn't a big hit on our budget. Like Jennifer and Sarah said, we buy big bags of feed maybe every other month for four small chickens and they eat scraps for treats.
A good research Web site that most of us get addicted to is
I live in the heights also - Montgomery and Wyoming area.
We got our chicks locally at a feed store - they buy theirs from a Hatchery, so if there is a particular breed of chicken you are interested in you could try asking around at the feed stores to see if they would be willing to buy the batch...
We got ours at the Corrales Mercantile, and they are wonderful (the shop - but also our chickens are wonderful). Thye had four breeds when we were buying - americaunas, plymouth rock, and two others that I dont remember because we didnt buy them.
I would also like to recommend Glover Poultry Farm out of Edgewood. He sells chicks and chickens from his farm but also at the Corrales Farmers Market every Sunday morning.They are GREAT! They also have turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Good luck!
You should be in the chicken tour this year - in June!
Maggie, I love the idea of freecycled chickens! What a great gift!

And I'd love to be part of the chicken tour next year, once we're officially chicken owners, of course. I'm really looking foward to building our chicken tractor and dreaming of chickens this winter, lol. My kids are really excited, too, since I have thus far resisted their pleas for a dog, but have agreed to chickens. I have five children, I most definitely don't need a dog! Chickens, however, now that's a different story. ;-)

I just passed the Corrales Mercantile this past Sunday, when we went raspberry picking, so I will definitely keep them in mind for the spring, and I'll be sure to hit the Grower's market in Corrales some Sunday before the end of the season, too, to chat with Mr. Glover Poultry Farm. Hmmm...I drive to Edgewood once a week for my daughter's hippotherapy, anyway; maybe I should look up where they are and pay them a visit?

And Jennifer, it's a small, small world -- I also live in the Montgomery and Wyoming area -- wouldn't it be funny if it turns out we live in the same subdivision? See, you're starting a poultry trend! :D

I think there are a lot of people in this area...about a year ago I went for a walk and I was POSITIVE that I heard a rooster...when Jade signed up for the tour and said she was in this area I was sure that she was the one with the rooster, but NO! Its someone who hasnt come out yet.
25 is a lot... and more than you can legally have in the city and from what I understand it is almost a given that a few of those 25 will die or need some extra care when they arrive in the mail. If you purchase locally you can pick the chicks you want, that look healthy. That being said, as others have noted, the only way to get exactly the kind of chickens you want when you want them is ordering from the hatcheries...the feed stores have limited selections (but usually a few breeds to choose from).

We really like the mixed breeds (Ameraucana mixes) we got at a local feed store.
You will love your Chicken's, Kristin, they are fun and easy to raise. :)

I have gotten mine in the past at the Feed and Seed, but I have a rooster and these days my hens have hatched some eggs, so I haven't gotten as many from the store recently.

I have way more poultry than you'll probably consider getting, and I manage on two bags of feed every 12 days (for adults, the babies won't take near that much) and if they are getting scraps or free grazing they sometimes consume nearly half that. Right now they wander about the yard eating bugs and weeds and the weekly extras I give them (my family saves some scraps and freezes them, and I give them those once a week.)

When I first started raising the birds I checked out this site for some help, and it is really one of my favorites. :)

If you don't want to raise baby chicks and just want grown hens I could give you three (Rhode Island Reds... good egg layers) when you are ready. I am going to try some new breeds, and possibly some Guinea Hens, so I'd need to find a home for a few of my girls anyway :)


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