My Facebook friends already know that we lost all fifteen healthy pullets to varmints. It was a cruel blow to an already trying quarter.
But every problem is also an opportunity. Yes, we lost every chick, but now that we’re starting from almost nothing, we can try different breeds.
I’ve decided to start a homestead business selling chicks. We have a few things in our favor.
• We have ready-made pens (hopefully secured by now).
• We have a high-end incubator and hatcher kept back from our days raising rhea and emu.
• We have experience.
What I don’t have yet (aside from birds) is a firm decision on which breeds to choose.
Over the years we’ve raised Orpingtons, Australorp, Americauna, Red Leghorn, Marans, and Barred Rock chickens.
Orpingtons, while gorgeous, ate too much. The leghorn hens are phenomenal layers but the roosters can sometimes be violent, so I’m crossing both those breeds off the list.
For myself, I don’t want to deal with people on a daily basis. This is why I think selling chicks is a better option for us rather than selling eggs.
What I’m considering…
The Australorp are docile, well mannered birds that lay a lot of eggs. I’d still place them at the top of my list. I also love the Americauna for their pretty blue eggs.
But I’d like to try something new. The Barnevelder and the Welsummer are noted for their rich dark brown eggs. And they’re pretty birds too. The Maran also lay dark brown eggs, but as a breed they’re too excitable for me.
Except for two dogs and a kitten that don’t do much but look adorable, I expect my other animals to earn their keep. I have three pens where I could conceivably house three different breeds of chickens.
I have pretty good luck incubating and hatching eggs, so I thought if I dedicated myself to three different breeds, I could make a little money on the side–at least enough to pay for feed and upkeep while still providing eggs and meat for us.
This idea is a long term plan. Young hens won’t lay until they’re at least 9-12 months old and their first year is sporadic. If that’s the case, theoretically, I won’t have chicks to sell until this time next year–that is, if I buy chicks right this minute.
I could buy adult birds, but they’re $$$. I anticipate good laying hens to cost somewhere between $15-$30 a piece. (I’ve seen great laying hens for $45 a piece, but that’s way out of my price range.) While adults could give me an income sooner, it’s a deeper investment.
Chicks cost $3-5 depending on the breed. I could conceivably buy ten chicks for the price of one laying hen. Of course, I won’t know how many of the ten will be layers and how many will be roosters, so there’s that to consider too.
So here’s my quandary: What kind of chickens do I buy? Adults or chicks? Would future chick buyers be more interested in egg production or the uniqueness of the breed? In the past, I’ve only sold extra chicks when I was replenishing my own stock so I’ve never taken into account what sells well.
I truly like the Australorp because they’re calm birds and good layers, but I’m on the fence for my second and third choices. I guess a lot will depend on what I can find locally.
If you were in the market for chickens, would you buy for production or uniqueness?
I wish I had room to house a few of these guys. The one of the left is a Polish. I just love their floofy crowns. The one on the right is a Silkie.
As a homestead animal, you cannot go wrong with chickens. They are relatively easy to care for and don’t cost much for a small flock. The only thing you have to worry about are predators…and those can strike in an instant.
FYI: Amazon Prime Day (and a half) starts today at noon Pacific Time and 2pm Central Time. If you aren’t already a Prime Member I encourage you to at least try the trial version. (Click the banner below.)
Regular readers know I don’t subscribe to many things, but Amazon Prime has been my best money saver. I even buy farm supplies there like hardware cloth, insect-proof garden fabric, tools, obscure parts, and seeds. Heck, I even bought lye for soap making from Amazon.
Every time I think it might be something too specialized to find online, Amazon has it. 9 times out of 10 they are cheaper than local.