Inflation suddenly makes having your own laying hens look financially smart

Eggs from the Hens

When people ask why I have chickens, I tell them the truth. I have chickens mostly for pest and weed control. I also find watching them do chicken stuff to be relaxing. Fresh eggs are just a side benefit.

Years ago, when most of the hens were young, we had so many eggs we gladly gave them away. “Leave an empty egg carton, get a full one in return,” was our motto.

Someone once asked me what a dozen eggs cost us to produce and I did a little math to come up with an estimate of around 11¢ each, $1.32 a dozen. At the time store eggs were only $1.50 a dozen, so it wasn’t a big savings. But they sure looked and tasted a lot better.

Most of the hens are older now and we don’t get eggs as reliably as we once did. A couple of weeks ago we had a cooking flurry, managed to run through all our own eggs, and had to go to the store for more.

Holy cow (or chicken).

Talk about sticker shock. Eggs are expensive now. I paid $5.50 for 18 plain old extra large eggs, which nets out to about 31¢ apiece!

Now, I live in California and I realize it has weird farm rules. Stuff like every laying hen gets her own air conditioned condo, yoga classes, free Netflix, etc., etc.

Chickens at the Gate

All of that raises costs. But 300%? Dang…

Turns out most of the recent price increases have nothing to do with the crazy California regulations and everything to do with the business of eggs costing more. From workers to feed and fuel, everything’s a lot more to produce, package and ship, and those costs are being reflected in the price.

That got me to thinking what my own costs are now.

Chicken feed prices have been rising for a while and 50 pound sack now costs $22, about 50% more than a year ago, so a trip to the feed store hits the wallet harder than it used to.

Fortunately my fowl are free-range and dig up a fair amount of food on their own, so they don’t eat as much feed as others might. I figure each of the eight hens eats about one pound of food a week and produces two to three eggs (they slow down when they’re older), so I get around 18 eggs for around $3.50 in feed, which is 20¢ each.

That’s a pretty significant savings.

At 20¢ an egg, we save about $70 a year by having our own hens

We go through about a dozen eggs a week, so we’re saving $1.32 weekly, or almost $70 a year, by having our own hens. Not exactly a life-changing amount, but it’s basically bonus money because the chickens were here for pest patrol anyway. It’d be easy to supplement that by actually accepting money from the neighbors rather than just giving away the excess eggs.

Anyway, point is laying hens are well worth the cost. If you’re on the fence about them, go for it. You’ll not only get lots of fresh eggs, they’ll help you keep pests under control, eat your leftover vegetables, and fertilize the yard to boot.

Off Topic
Digging around the internet looking for what eggs cost on average, I came across this price calculator that’ll calculate the inflation on the price of eggs from 1935 to today. It’s kind of fun to plug numbers in and see what happens.