Backyard Chickens: What's the Return on Investment, and Should You Care?

Troy Tolley/CC BY-ND 2.0

While apartment hens may be a step too far for this TreeHugger, I am a big fan of backyard chicken keeping. In fact I have three hens of my own, and between the fresh eggs, the entertainment, the waste disposal services and the ready supply of fresh chicken manure for my compost—I can't imagine living without them.

But do my hens save me money, or are they ultimately an expense?

The Poultry Guide has a neat little online ROI calculator for backyard chicken keepers that lets you factor in the cost of buying, housing, feeding and keeping your birds healthy, and offset that against the value of the eggs (and manure!) you get in return. It's a very cool idea‐and working from their standard numbers, it looks like most chicken keepers can expect a modest financial return as long as they do not factor in the cost of their labor.

But I mist admit I don't really care that much. I have little idea of what I spend on feed or bedding expenses. And I can't remember how much I spent on the birds themselves. For me, keeping chickens is a hobby—and unlike golf, video games, expensive drug habits or other hobbies that people seem to get into‐it is a hobby that most likely costs me nothing, and may even make me a little money.

Exactly how much it makes me seems a little anal to track. After all, it makes me happy. And happiness is real.

Tags: Activism | Birds | Economics | Gardening | Permaculture

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