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Homesteaders often joke about chicken math. You get 3 chickens, and then one day you look up to realize you have 20, because you just couldn’t resist buying more. Not to mention chickens being the gateway to all things homesteading.

Parking sign, available from

But with bird flu, supply chain issues and inflation, more and more people are wanting to get chickens to offset their egg expense at the grocery store. Egg prices have more than tripled in some states in the last few months and it’s not uncommon to see eggs for $5/dozen. Compounding that, our overall egg consumption has gone up as a country in the last few years.

Egg prices at my local grocery store, Walla Walla WA, Jan 11, 2023.

But is it really possible to save money by having your own chickens?

Michael Kilpatrick of Growing Farmers and the Thriving Farmer podcast argues that raising birds for eggs AS A BUSINESS is very often a losing proposition, unless you have a whole heck of a lot of them. (Thriving Farmer is a farm business podcast that breaks down how to run a successful farm business while also enjoying a good life. Highly recommended!)

I made this chart for my own flock so that I’m not over feeding the birds.

But backyard chickens are not a business venture. Let’s break chicken math down to the three basic considerations; labor, overhead, and cost of goods sold.

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Jennifer Kleffner

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