Cost of chicks and feed: $70
Number of chickens: 15
Cost per chicken: $4.67
Cost per grocery-store chicken: $5
Now I realize that bargain chicken from Walmart is probably not as high quality as chickens raised on grass in your own backyard. However, I did not include any labor in my cost analysis; feeding, watering, or even butchering (which is not a small task). Including the cost of labor would completely eliminate all savings.
I don't mind the feeding, watering, or even the butchering. What disturbs me here is the cost of chicken feed- corn, soybean, and some other ingredients that are not organic or even all natural. Just run-of-the-mill farmer's elevator feed. There's got to be a better way.
This summer (after we had butchered the chickens, unfortunately) I did some research on chicken feed alternatives. I found some pretty cool ideas, including but not limited to:
DIY Composter & Automatic Chicken Feeder
Building a Maggot Farm
Raising Meal Worms
The Chicken Scavenging System
Eliminate the Cost of Chicken Feed
Given my new knowledge, I believe next year I might do some experimenting- maybe one group raised as before (mostly on elevator feed) and another group raised with these alternatives (and less feed). The experimental group would probably go in a chicken tractor, put in the orchard or in the horse pasture where there are mulberry trees.
What do your chickens eat? Have you found any cost-effective alternatives to elevator chicken feed?