Supply List for Getting started with Chickens
Ready for some FRESH, Organic, Nutrient-dense, Delicious Eggs ???
Spring has sprung and you’re dying to become a member of the exceedingly growing population of backyard and urban chicken keepers. You’ve done all your research, you’ve decided what type of chickens you want, you know how many to order* (this is a funny one, look up chicken math-it’s addicting!) and where you are getting them from, so now what? What do you need to buy? How much will it cost?
If you read part 1 of getting chickens; 18 questions to ask before getting chickens you already know my research on this subject goes from one side of the spectrum to the other so I am listing what we use; based on your own research your list may vary.
I also have to add that we are raising our chickens naturally. They forage for most of their food and we supplement with organic feed. We will treat illness, pest, and health issues naturally. If this is your desire, then my list and recommendations should be good for you.
Natural/Organic or Conventional chicken raising; either way you decide, the chickens health should be top priority. While it’s a good idea to cut corners to save on cost, some items you shouldn’t skimp on.
Here is my start-up supply list for chicks:
You can view an example by clicking on the highlighted area , some my be affiliate links *
- Brooder-this will be your chicks first home click here to see examples
- Heat Lamp Clamp Lamp
- Heat Lights 250 watts Red Heat Bulbs you will need two in case one burns out
- Feeder You want something small the chicks can easily eat from
- Water Dish This dish screws on to a mason jar and works great for brooder’s
- Litter/bedding I use pine chips. Do not use cedar as it causes respiratory issues. Hay and straw can harbor mold. In my opinion sand has sanitary issues and they can ingest it but this is a personal decision.
- Thermometer I ordered mine from the hatchery but you can order on Amazon or buy at a local feed store
- Starter Feed They will eat this until they are 8 weeks old then switch to grower feed
- Diatomaceous Earth -Food grade
- Poultry Grit
- Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Marbles to place in water dish to prevent drowning
- Chick Hospital – (we saved the box the chicks were shipped in) to keep a sick chicken when you need to separate.
- First Aid Kit (this first aid kit from Fresh- Eggs-Daily is the one I use)
- Fresh Herbs
- Garlic Powder
- Perches, Cardboard Tubes, Mirror, Sticks*
- Roll of paper towels
- Eye Dropper
- Eggs (farm fresh preferably). Give chickens mashed hard boiled eggs as a protein treat.
- 2 small saucers (like the ceramic bottoms to a small planter or a lid to a mayonnaise jar) for treats and grit
- Cardboard Box
Start up cost:
Your cost will depend largely on where you buy your items and how elaborate you want to get. For our brooder (see picture below) we used plywood we already had and cardboard boxes. We also already had: Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, Marbles, Diatomaceous Earth, Organic Garlic Powder, Herbs, Eye Dropper and Perches
Total supply cost $52.00
From the Hatchery we ordered: 15 chick pullets (about $2.55 each), 2 starter kits, Mareks Vaccination, thermometer and shipping total cost $85.00
Weighing the cost
In the beginning it cost $137.00 for me to get started. I spend roughly $20.00 a month on feed and nutritional supplements including pine chips for their coop. The hens (we don’t have roosters) didn’t start laying eggs until they were around 18 weeks and didn’t start laying good (enough for us and some to share) until 30 weeks. By the time they started laying good enough for me to sell a dozen or so eggs I had an investment of around $300.00 (this cost does not reflect the cost of the coop).
We were spending $9.00 a week on local eggs (2 dozen @ $4.50 a doz- which is now what I sell my eggs for). After one year my out of pocket cost for raising 11 chickens is approximately $740.00
Profit from selling eggs for 22 weeks (they didn’t produce enough to sell to others until they were 30 weeks old) during first year was $297.00. We were spending $9.00 per week for local eggs before we had chickens, so I will add that savings ($468.00) to my profit which is $297.00 for a grand end of year total of $765.00 That will bring my total end of year profit to $25.00. Not a very big money maker to say the least and please don’t get me started adding up the cost of my labor or I might cry.
There are several ways to increase your bottom line, to save money, and increase profits, but we have come to appreciate that it doesn’t matter to us. The satisfaction of having a real connection to our food, the companionship they provide, entertainment, and the quality of life they add is more than worth it.
Terms to Know:
- Pullets: female chicks under 1-year-old (if you want babies make sure that is specified when ordering most ship out 1 day of age)
- Cockerels: male chicks under 1-year-old
- Straight Run: can be male or female chicks
- Sexed: means they can specify they are male or female
- Rooster: Male chicken over 1 year of age
- Hen: female chicken over 1 year of age
- Coop: The house in which the chickens will sleep at night
- Nesting Box: The area where hens will lay their eggs or hatch their chickens
- Run: An outdoor space in which the chickens roam
- Brooder: the house/box where the baby chicks will live until 6-8 weeks of age until they can move to the coop
- Brood/Flock/Clutch : Group of chickens
- Forage: The act in which chickens graze the land for food
- Free Range: Is a term used when chickens can roam free most of the time
- Cage Free: A very broad definition used indicating a chicken is not raised in a cage
- Pecking Order: the expression of dominance in chickens. There will be a natural order of leader, second in command, third in command and so on down the line
- Loss Factor: Hatcheries mail you “extra” or an extra chicken when ordering to cover any losses that can occur with shipping or during the first couple days of life
- Hatchery : Business that sells chickens
- Litter/Bedding: the flooring material you use in a brooder or coop
- Free Choice: A term used when referring to something you are offering your chickens to eat that is in a separate container than their food
* Make sure all items are clean and safe to use, white distilled vinegar is a natural safe cleaner. For the perches we used driftwood. I sprayed with vinegar and cooked in the oven at 200 degrees for 1 hour to sanitize. We used a oatmeal tube with the top and bottom removed as a crawl through tunnel they like to play in. If you use a mirror, make sure it can not fall over.
It measures 6ft x 2 1/2ft. Plywood sides and cardboard insert with pine chips. Nothing fancy but its safe, draft free, clean and easy to maintain.
Good resource center for more information
*If you don’t know what breed or how many to order read my earlier post here . If you’re not sure where to order them, I recommend the Cackle Hatchery where I ordered mine, excellent company with great customer service
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