As with any endeavor in modern times, there is a "start-up cost." This may be, in our case, the cost of buying day-old chicks, incubating and feeding them until they're productive, and building a movable chicken coop.
|Indeed, they do take them.|
So after our very first home-grown, backyard egg (valued at around the low, low price of $800) came through, needless to say we were a bit excited. Because at that point, the cost-per-egg figure goes down exponentially.
I don't have an exact egg-per-day count, but based on some milestones I've documented (first egg, first half dozen, first dozen, first 15 egg, 100% day), we have received roughly 620 eggs in 81 days. That's 7.5 eggs a day. Counting the cost of ongoing feed, we're still in it for over $1 per egg. An we don't even do the certified organic thing.
But, the coop (which cost about $350 on its own) was a one-time expense. The chickens themselves were a one-time expense. With an estimated 530 eggs per chicken in a lifetime, times 15 hens, we'll get this number down to 8.8 cents per egg (7900 eggs at $700 start-up).
Now, the one thing I have NOT factored in is ongoing feed. At $30 a month for bagged Co-op feed, we can expect to have paid another $1k in feed for the next 3 years. That makes for a solid $0.21 per egg, IF you include all of the start-up costs (which I did, factored into that $700 figure). That makes us pay $2.58 a dozen for all of our eggs for the next three years from our flock of 16.
And therein are the three major factors of chicken economics - how much does it take to get started, how much does it take to operate, and how much return do you get.
Wife and I have pretty much written off the start-up costs (chicken coop building was so last year), so our primary focus is on the monthly expenses. At our current state of $30 a month for bagged feed, we can expect to get a dozen eggs for about $1.17. We are seriously considering moving to fermented feed, which would cost more per pound, yet stretch farther, lowering our per-dozen cost to $1.04.
There are other ways to even further reduce the chicken food bill (free-ranging, feeding home-grown milk, etc.), but we're not there at the moment.
In any case, it's an interesting study to figure out costs, both immediate, but especially long-term. Pumping in $700 to get to one egg seems insane (and it felt like it, lemme tell ya....). But after and including the start-up costs,the long-term picture for cage-free, farm-fresh, uber-local, pastured, super-healthy eggs at $1.17 a dozen is a screaming good deal.