9 Things to Consider Before Raising Chickens

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Keeping chickens for farm-fresh eggs can be a rewarding and fun experience, but it requires effort. Understanding what to anticipate will help you determine if it’s a fit for you at this time. Chickens aren’t terribly high maintenance but there is work involved. Here are the things to consider before raising chickens.

It’s exciting thinking of raising a backyard flock… Getting back to the basics, enjoying fresh eggs, and becoming more sustainable, etc. It all sounds great. And it can be great. It all depends.

One of the things it depends on is: What are your reasons for wanting to raise chickens? 

To get you started, here are some reasons people decide to start raising chickens:

  • Fresh eggs
  • Sustainable supply of meat
  • For exhibition and show
  • Your friend raises chickens and makes it sound easy
  • It sounds fun
  • Something to keep busy with
  • It can be a new hobby
  • A reason to be outdoors
  • Chickens are cute 
  • Friendly chickens make good pets
  • Someone offered you a chicken coop 
  • Someone offered you chicks or chickens
  • You have the perfect spot in your yard to raise chickens
  • Eggs at the store are so expensive; maybe it’s cheaper to raise chickens yourself
  • How fun it would be to have the kids involved
  • It’s a way to start with raising animals as a food source

It’s okay if you don’t know all the reasons you are considering raising chickens. The important thing is for you to think about it.

Keep reading to learn the things to know before you get chickens and what to expect. Toward the end, I list the pros and cons to raising chickens.

Things to Consider Before Raising Chickens

Raising chickens for eggs doesn’t save money. It’s not necessarily cheaper to raise chickens for eggs though the quality will likely be better, especially if they can free range.

Chickens eat around 1½ pounds of chicken feed per week. For a flock of 6 chickens, this is 9 pounds a week or 468 pounds a year.

Depending on the brand and the quality of feed, this can amount to $200 – 230 yearly in feed costs, if you buy the large bags, capitalizing on the bulk discount. If they forage and you provide veggie scraps, this can be lower. 

You will also have the expense of chicken bedding, which is their litter. It helps absorb their droppings. Other expenses may include healthcare costs. Budget for all costs related to your flock, including during periods when the birds aren’t laying eggs.

Before you bring chickens, chicks, or fertile eggs to hatch at home, there are things to consider. Your:

  1. Reasons for wanting chickens (ideas above)
  2. Time
  3. Work
  4. Expenses
  5. Your space and where you live
  6. Ability to care for them for years
  7. Choice of breed
  8. Whether to start with eggs, chicks, or hens
  9. How many chickens to start with

Your Time

One of the biggest things is that while chickens are relatively easy to care for, they still require care. This takes time. Daily tasks include providing chicken feed and fresh water.

You may be able to skip a day here and there if you have extra feeders and waterers. However, you should still go into this thinking you will need to check in with them daily, even to be sure they are safe and healthy.

You will also use your time to scrub out the feeders and waterers at least once a week. This will help keep a healthy environment. At a minimum, you will need to use your time to refresh or clean out the chicken bedding at least monthly.

The biggest job is cleaning out the entire coop. Plan to do an extensive cleaning at least twice a year.

Daily tasks keeping chickens:

  • Feeding and watering: Refill and clean as needed
  • Collecting eggs: Gather eggs daily 
  • Observation: Look for signs of health problems

Weekly tasks:

  • Maintaining and cleaning the coop: Remove droppings and replace bedding
  • Inspect coop and fencing: Check for weaknesses that predators could exploit
  • Weigh chickens (if raising for meat): Monitor growth

The Work Involved

There is initial work to set up the chicken coop and chicken run. You’ll also need to have chicken wire or something to protect them from predators.

The good thing though is once those are set up, there won’t be much more to do with them except if something comes up. You’ll also need to acquire the feeders and waterers.

As I mentioned, the ongoing work comes with:

  • Feeding
  • Providing clean water
  • Checking in on them regularly for their health and safety
  • Collecting eggs (the fun part!)
  • Maintain nesting boxes
  • Maintaining and replacing chicken bedding
  • Removing all the chicken bedding
  • Chicken coop: General maintenance and complete overhaul
colorful chicken eggs in basket
It’s fun to collect eggs but there is work involved  Image: Dawn Head


Chickens are productive meaning they provide value (eggs and meat) unlike many other animals and pets. So the expenses involved in their upkeep may or may not matter to you. But it’s important to know what you’ll need to buy to keep a healthy flock. 

Economies of Scale

While the price of eggs at the supermarkets fluctuates, typically you won’t be saving money by raising chickens for eggs. However, there are some economies of scale involved. You can:

Raise more hens

Leverage your time and the work involved by raising more hens. Timewise, raising 10 – 12 hens isn’t that much different from raising 5 – 6 hens.

Other Things You Can Do to Maximize Your Farm

Buy bigger bags of feed

Buying a 50 pound bag of feed is more cost-effective than buying a 10-pound bag. Learn more about chicken feed.

Choose chicken breeds known for laying a lot of eggs

In their prime, younger years, some of the best egg-laying chickens can lay around 300 eggs annually. 

Raise a rooster among your hens so you can hatch fertile eggs

If you live in an area that allows a rooster, you may consider keeping one. This will have a lot to do with your neighbors and your goals. There are pros and cons to keeping a rooster.

You don’t need a rooster for chickens to lay eggs. But raising a rooster means your hens can hatch fertile eggs. This means you can create “a supply” of new chicks. If they are females, they will grow into egg-laying hens.

This will keep your flock growing without you needing to spend money on more chickens or eggs to incubate.

Don’t let broody hens sit

If you raise breeds that are known go broody (the hens want to sit and hatch their clutch of eggs), the advantage is they can hatch their own eggs. This can save you time from incubating them, etc. Eggs hatch in 20 – 21 days.

However, chicken keepers often prefer to prevent their hens from brooding on their eggs, as this means they will not produce eggs for collection.  

Cull hens that are no longer productive

Hens lay more eggs when they are younger, and then it tapers off. A way to maximize your efforts with raising chickens for eggs is use unproductive hens for meat.

Chickens can live 8 – 10 years. If you use them for meat when their laying tapers off, you can ensure you are only spending time and money feeding productive hens.

Raise only one rooster

If you hatch chicks and some are males, it’s unlikely you will want to keep all the males. Roosters are aggressive and fight for dominance. It’s important to have a minimum of 8 – 10 hens per rooster so no hen is over-mated. 

Unless you have a plan to raise roosters for their meat, retaining all the males can be economically inefficient because you will incur additional costs in feeding them.

Sell eggs

If selling eggs is appealing to you, it’s an option. Depending on where you live and the competition for fresh eggs, you may be able to sell them for $5 – $6+ a dozen. (I was just at my farmers market and a farm was selling them for $8 a dozen.)

Just remember, the larger your flock, the more mouths to feed.

Initial Expenses When You Get Started

The good news is many of them are one-time purchases:
  • Chicken coop or hen house
  • Nesting boxes, roosting bars (as part of chicken coop)
  • Secure chicken run or fenced area for them to be outside
  • Predator protection in the form of chicken wire, etc.
  • Feeders, waterers
  • Heated waterer (optional, for cold climates)
  • Litter scooper
  • Initial flock of chickens or cost of the eggs to hatch
Optional one-time purchases if you start your flock by buying eggs to hatch or have a rooster and plan to hatch fertile eggs:
  • Incubator
  • Chick brooder
  • Heating plate or brooder plate
  • Ability to make a separate area for chicks until they grow larger before you introduce them to the flock.
Ongoing costs:
  • Chicken feed – Chickens eat around 1½ pounds of feed each week (buy in bulk!)
  • Chicken bedding material (also called chicken litter)
  • Health checkups for any issues; vaccinations; any medications
  • Pest control products
  • Grit, oyster shells, or other supplements to support egg production and digestion
  • Utility costs for heating the coop (if applicable)
5 gallon bucket chicken feeder
5 gallon bucket chicken feeder ~ Image: Dawn Head

Feeding Chickens

If chickens have the ability to free range, they will hopefully be able to meet some of their nutritional needs that way. This is especially the case in areas where they can forage (like in a garden) for a wide range of safe plants, slugs, insects, worms, snails, etc.

This is great for the chickens because they can be out and about, doing what they are naturally supposed to be doing. It also gives their diet diversity.

However, their diets will need to be supplemented with a good quality commercial poultry feed. The type depends on their age and their purpose to maximize eggs or meat.

  • If you are planning on starting with chicks, they will need chick starter.
  • As they grow, they will need grower feed.
  • To maximize egg production, feed chickens a nutritionally balanced layer feed.
  • If you want to raise chickens for meat, they will need broiler varieties of chicken feed depending on their age (starter, grower, finisher). 

Feeding: A balanced diet is vital for healthy chickens.

Layers: Need a diet rich in calcium for strong eggshells.

Meat chickens: Require more protein for muscle growth.

You may want to consider mealworms and other treats from time to time. If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, there are a lot of scraps chickens will enjoy: overripe cantaloupe, watermelon rinds, lettuces, etc.

Occasionally, I’ll give chickens bananas, and my chickens love strawberries too. It’s great to be able to give them safe produce scraps that would otherwise end up in the compost or garbage. 

America's Choice Eco Flake Wood Animal Bedding in nesting box
America’s Choice Eco Flake Wood Animal Bedding in nesting box with dummy eggs (and 2 real ones) ~ Image: Dawn Head

Chicken Bedding

Another ongoing cost (unless you use grass clippings or something from your property) is bedding. You will want some type of chicken litter to line the nesting boxes and the coop. It will serve several purposes:

  1. Provide comfort to the chickens
  2. Help insulate the coop
  3. Help keep chickens warm or cooler
  4. Collect droppings and urine
  5. Reduce ammonia levels
  6. Absorbs odors
  7. Make cleanup easier
  8. Helps safeguard eggs from rolling around

There are many types of chicken bedding you can use. Some examples are sand, aspen or pine shavings. I use America’s Choice Eco Flake Animal Wood Bedding.

Health Checks

You should always be noting your hens’ behaviors and whether there are any changes. If there is something that needs attention, you should consult a veterinarian.

This includes changes in their physical appearance (except for molting) as well as any behavior changes (lethargy, etc.). Note if there is stress or competition within the flock.

There’s a lot you can do to help keep your chickens healthy.

In the coop:
  1. Protect from predators
  2. Clean coop regularly
  3. Provide well-ventilated, draft free coop
  4. Have enough space; overcrowding can causes stress, unsanitary conditions, mites, and common chicken diseases and illnesses
  5. Have enough perches and nesting boxes
Food and water: 
  1. Keep food dry
  2. Provide clean water and chicken feed daily
  3. Have multiple chicken waterers and feeders so less dominate birds don’t get crowded out
Breed choice:
  1. Keep mild-mannered, friendly chicken breeds together
  2. Watch the pecking order to ensure they are all safe
Outdoor space:
  1. Exercise and opportunities for foraging, dust baths, exploring
  2. Ensure accessible plants are not toxic to chickens
  3. Chicken toys for mental stimulation (optional)

According to Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, most chickens require minimal veterinary care. Instead they are treated as issues arise. Health issues can be largely avoided with appropriate care.

Your Space and Where You Live

Before you even consider bringing chickens home, you have to ensure:

  1. Your city, town, or village allows you to have chickens
  2. Your homeowners association allows chickens (if applicable)
  3. If you have enough space for them
  4. Optional: Consider neighbors

It’s best to start with a small flock (5 – 8) versus a large flock. A lot will depend on how large your family is and how many eggs you are hoping for each week.

Ideally, you will have ample space for a chicken coop (also called a chicken house or hen house) and an area for them to have fresh air, exercise, and the chance to forage.

A chicken run is a contained way or you can have them free range. Be sure to research any toxic plants in your backyard.

Keep in mind how much space chickens need. Chickens do best with a minimum of 3 – 4 square feet inside the coop with an additional minimum of 8 – 10 square feet outside access.

More space is better to increase exercise and foraging. They will appreciate a dust bath area as well.

Problems often arise in crowded spaces where chickens can’t act naturally. In tight areas, weaker chickens may be bullied and struggle to access food, water, roosts, and nesting boxes, leading to poor health. Too many chickens can cause more fights and competition, with dominant hens controlling resources. To improve the situation, consider reducing the number of chickens or making their living space larger. Adding more roosts, hiding spots, feeders, and toys can also help.

Choosing Smaller Breeds

If you are limited on space, you may not want to raise very large chickens such as Jersey Giants, Cochins, and Brahmas. Choosing medium-size birds, such as Rhode Island Reds, may make more sense. Another option is to raise bantam chickens such as Silkie chickens, Sebrights, and Belgian Bearded D’Anvers.

They are ideal for smaller paces due to their reduced size and feed requirements. However, they will lay small eggs. They are popular as show birds or pets.

Learn more:

Long Term Commitment

Unless you are raising meat chickens, most chickens will live to be around 8 years old with proper care. This will vary by breed and their environment. It’s important to note that hens will be productive (lay lots of eggs) for around three years. After that, their laying dwindles.

You will still need to care for them. This includes feeding them despite them not laying many eggs. Have an idea of your plan. Will you use them for meat? Give them away? If you plan to raise chicks, some will likely be males. Have a plan for them as well. 

It’s also important to know that most hens’ egg-laying dwindles as the days get shorter (less natural light) and it gets colder. This means in the late fall and winter months, you will be caring for an “unproductive” flock without the return of eggs.

Some flock owners are glad for this time for their hens to have a break from laying. Others may provide artificial, supplemental lighting (14 – 16 hours a day) to support egg laying.

You will also need to consider having someone tend to your chickens if you go out of town or will be unable to care for them for some reason. Learn: How long can chickens go without food

Learn more:

Select the Right Breed

Each chicken breed has certain traits. Some are aggressive where others are friendly and easy-going. Some breeds do better in colder climates than hot climates, and vice versa. 

You can eat roosters and hens. However, some are raised specifically for their meat. Some hens are better for eggs. Some are considered dual purpose because they are decent at both.

Before deciding on a breed, you will need to consider:

  • Whether you want eggs, meat, or both
  • If you want to raise them as ornamental birds (and perhaps for exhibition and show) or as pets
  • If you have children
  • Do you want a mixed breed (several breeds)
  • Your climate
  • Might you become emotionally attached to chickens you are raising for meat

If you select only friendly and calm breeds, they are likely to get along better in a mixed flock, resulting in fewer conflicts and a more harmonious pecking order.

If you go to buy chicks at your local hardware store or feed store, it’s likely you will find chicks that will do well in your climate. If you order eggs to hatch, be sure to research in advance.

Learn more:

Decide Whether to Start with Eggs, Chicks, or Grown Hens

Before you start raising chickens, you have to decide whether you will buy fertile eggs to hatch, or buy baby chicks or adult chickens. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. 

Hatching Eggs

Choosing to hatch eggs yourself gives you the experience of watching the birth and their growth. To successfully hatch fertile eggs, you will need a reliable incubator to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level. You will also need an egg turner for uniform development (though you can also manually turn them).

During the hatching process, a brooder with a heat source is essential to keep the chicks warm.

While rewarding, it’s also more labor-intensive and time-consuming compared to buying chicks or adult chickens. You don’t have a guarantee they will all hatch and that they will be female. You want females if you are raising chickens for eggs. You can raise the male chickens for meat. 

New chicken owners may not want to start with fertile eggs. Though it’s fun, especially with kids involved, it takes research, extra work, and equipment.

Learn more:

Buying Chicks

Chicks are typically cheaper than adult hens and allow you to raise the birds in a controlled environment from a young age. This may help foster a stronger bond. (Plus, I think chicks are so much cuter than chickens!) However, they require a lot of care, a brooder, and are susceptible to illness.

You can go to your local feed store and some larger local hardware stores, and see chicks for sale in the spring. The advantage of buying chicks in your area is that they will likely do well in your climate. It’s fun to pick the chicks you want.

Sexed vs unsexed chicks

You will usually have the option of buying sexed chicks (you will know if you are purchasing females or males) or unsexed chicks (you won’t know their gender until they are older).

Sexed chicks are a bit more expensive than unsexed chicks due to the labor involved in the sexing process. However, it’s to me, it is worth knowing what you are buying. I think it’s especially important if you are new to raising chickens. If you want to start with a flock of 5 or 6 hens, I recommend buying females and getting started. 

Starting with Adult Chickens

Grown chickens are easier to care for as they will have outgrown the vulnerable chick stage. You can also start getting eggs right away (in the warmer months) if you acquire laying hens. However, they might be more expensive to buy, and adapting to a new environment can be stressful for them.

Deciding How Many Chickens to Get

A typical hen lays around 4 – 6 eggs per week, and less as it gets colder out when there is less natural light. Calculate your family’s weekly egg consumption and plan accordingly.

Beginner chicken owners should start with a small flock. A flock of 3 – 6 chickens allows for a manageable learning curve in understanding their needs and behaviors without being overwhelmed. It will also be more manageable in terms of housing and feeding.

You’ll realize more cost-efficiency by raising 6 – 7 chickens compared to a smaller flock of 3 – 5 chickens. However, starting with fewer chickens can be a way to try it out. If you discover raising chickens isn’t for you, it will be easier to sell or rehome 3 chickens vs 7 chickens.

Note: It’s important to raise more than one chicken at a time. They are social animals. At a minimum, I suggest raising 3 hens.

“Chicken math” is a humorous term you may come to appreciate. It is the tendency for chicken owners to expand their flock beyond their initial plans, acquiring more chickens because they enjoy them so much.

Plan for this when you initially choose a location in your backyard. Then, if you enjoy your new hobby and have the space, you can add more hens to improve economies of scale. 

If you have a small property, you can raise fewer chickens and/or smaller chickens.

I highly recommend you don’t start with a rooster if you are new to keeping chickens. 

Pros and Cons of Raising Chickens

Like with raising any animals on your property, it comes with pros and cons. I think the most important thing is to be informed as you can before making a decision. Remember, if it’s not the right time, you can always consider it again.

Pros of Raising Chickens

Raising chickens has lots of advantages. The biggest is that they provide a reliable supply of fresh, organic eggs. They will also help with pest control. This can be really helpful if you have a garden.

They also produce quality manure that can enhance your garden soil. Raising chickens can help you get back to the basics and have a form of self-sufficiency.

  • Fresh, organic eggs
  • Organic meat
  • Provide companionship
  • Pest control
  • Rich manure for gardens
  • Educational experience
  • Productive pets with personality
  • Sustainability
  • Physical activity; gets you outside
  • Pets with personality
  • Reduced waste: Chickens can consume kitchen scraps, reducing the amount of organic waste

Cons of Raising Chickens

Raising chickens takes time and money. Every day, you need to feed them, provide fresh water, note their health, and do routine maintenance. The initial setup costs for coops, fencing, and other necessities can be expensive. You will have to buy chicken feed as well as chicken bedding.

These require your labor to haul. While 50-pound bags of chicken feed are more economical per pound than 10-pound bags, someone has to carry them around or lift them onto a wheelbarrow, etc.

Depending on the breed, they can be noisy, which might be a nuisance. Managing a flock can pose challenges, particularly with aggressive behaviors and establishing a harmonious pecking order. Chickens may attract predators to your property.

  • Time-consuming
  • Labor involved with managing feed and chicken bedding
  • Initial and ongoing costs
  • Prone to diseases (though you can do a lot to keep a clean coop and plan for a relatively stress-environment)
  • Noise levels
  • Predator risk
  • Social conflicts: Managing a flock’s pecking order and potential aggressive behaviors can be challenging
  • Seasonal egg production: Egg production is typically seasonal, with fewer eggs laid during winter months
  • Emotional attachment: Forming bonds with chickens can make it difficult to cull or lose them to illness or predators


What do I need to know before raising chickens?

Before raising chickens, it is essential to know your purpose for wanting them: eggs, meat, both, or something else. You will want to choose breeds that will help you meet your goals.

Then learn all you can about keeping them healthy. This includes a well-ventilated, draft-free coop with nesting boxes, enough space, protection from predators, proper nutrition, pecking order dynamics (choosing mild-mannered breeds helps), and healthcare.

Familiarize yourself with your local regulations for raising poultry. Be prepared for a daily commitment to their upkeep (food, water, healthcare checks, regular maintenance, etc.).

How many chickens should a beginner start with?

A beginner may want to start with a small flock of 3 – 6 chickens to manage care and maintenance effectively. This will give you the chance to learn and see how you like it while still being manageable. It will also give the chickens social interaction which is essential for their wellbeing.

As your skills and interests grow, you may decide to add more hens. It’s best to plan for this from the start by building a larger coop and a larger run so you can expand if you decide to.

How do you raise chickens for the first time?

To raise chickens for the first time, set up a secure and comfortable coop, learn about their dietary needs, and understand their general behavior and healthcare requirements. Begin with a few hens and gradually increase your flock as you gain experience.

Are chickens high maintenance?

Yes, chickens can be considered moderately high maintenance. They require daily care including feeding, providing fresh water, and cleaning their living space. Regular health monitoring is also essential. Cleaning their coop, waterers, and feeders routinely will help keep them healthy.

Things to know before you get chickens

Before getting chickens, it is important to learn if your area allows you to raise chickens. If so, then understand their daily needs, the initial setup costs, and the long-term responsibilities involved. Learn about coop requirements, dietary needs, protecting from predators, and health management.  

Provide a regular supply of fresh soil, litter, and pasture that is regularly changed. Introducing scratch grains can encourage chickens to continue foraging.

Is raising chickens worth it

Raising chickens can be worth it for individuals who appreciate fresh eggs, enjoy caring for animals, and are prepared for the time and financial commitment involved.

The experience can be rewarding but also requires dedication. It is a years’ long commitment unless you raise them for meat. 

Is raising chickens easy or hard?

Raising chickens can be easy and hard. While it becomes easier as you understand their needs and establish a routine, beginners might find it challenging, especially when it comes to health management and protecting them from predators.

It may be hard and difficult for some people to carry heavy feed bags and chicken bedding. When you buy them in larger quantities, you will get a bulk discount. But you will have to be able to manage the bigger bags.

How many chickens do you need?

Chickens are social. Raise more than one. The number of chickens you need depends on your goals, whether it’s for egg production, meat, or as pets. Generally, starting with a small flock of 3 – 6 hens is recommended for beginners to manage the upkeep effectively if you are raising them for eggs or as pets. 

How many chickens should a beginner get?

A beginner should aim to start with 3 – 6 chickens. This number allows for easier management and an adequate supply of eggs for a small family while ensuring the chickens have companionship. If you plan for a larger flock when setting up a coop and chicken run, you can get more chickens if you wish.

Is it financially worth it to raise chickens?

The financial viability of raising chickens depends on various factors. These include the initial setup costs (cost for the chickens, coop, chicken run, feeders, waterers) and ongoing expenses (chicken bedding, chicken feed, health management).

While it might not be a cheaper alternative to buying eggs and chicken at the grocery store, many chicken owners love growing their own fresh, organic eggs and meat. 

Why is it not advised to raise chickens at home?

Raising chickens at home might be discouraged due to potential noise and odor issues (for yourself and neighbors), attracting predators, substantial time commitment, and the need for a proper setup to ensure their safety and well-being.

Mice and rats can be a concern if you don’t store chicken feed properly. Don’t sprinkle feed into their litter or on the coop floor.

Additionally, local regulations might restrict poultry keeping in residential areas.

What do I need to know about owning chickens?

Owning chickens requires knowledge of their dietary needs. Depending on the age of the chicken and whether you are raising them for eggs or meat, they have different feed requirements.

You also need to know about their healthcare requirements and understand how to provide a secure and comfortable living environment. You also need to be familiar with local regulations and be prepared for the commitment involved in daily care.

What is the hardest part about raising chickens?

For me, the hardest part about raising chickens is if you lose one or more to a predator. It’s heartbreaking. It’s also sad when a chicken becomes ill. Staying on top of health issues, quarantining any new chickens you want to incorporate to your flock, etc. will help to keep them healthy.

Choosing the right breeds so you don’t have aggressive birds will help make things more manageable from the start.

What is the downside of owning chickens?

The downside of owning chickens includes the daily time commitment, potential noise and odor issues, and the need to manage health problems that may arise. Additionally, initial setup costs can be significant. Plan to do it right from the start, keeping in mind if you will wish to add more chickens in the future.

How many chickens should you start with?

Beginning chicken owners looking to start raising chickens should consider beginning with a small flock of 3 – 6 birds. This size allows for manageable upkeep and provides an opportunity to learn about poultry care without becoming overwhelmed. If you plan out a larger space, you can always add more.

Is it cheaper to raise chickens or buy eggs?

Generally, it is cheaper to buy eggs from the store than to raise chickens for eggs when considering the costs of feed, coop setup, and maintenance. However, raising chickens offers fresh, home-laid eggs and the joy of poultry keeping which might outweigh the costs for some.

There are some economies of scale involved. In the first few years, if you raise additional egg-laying hens, you will get more eggs.

However, after the coop and set-up costs have been recouped, having more hens is still more mouths to feed. It likely won’t be cheaper to raise chickens. You also have to account for the cost of your time. 

How much should I budget for raising chickens?

The costs for everything will depend on how large you want to go. Budgeting for raising chickens should account for initial costs which can range from $400 to $1,000 for a chicken coop, chicken run, chicken wire and fencing, buying waterers, feeders, and chicken bedding, and buying chicks or chickens.

Ongoing costs for feed and maintenance can be $30 – $50+ monthly, depending on the size of your flock, and if they are able to supplement their diet with free ranging.

What I wish I knew before getting chickens

Before getting chickens, it’s important to learn about their behavioral patterns, dietary needs, and how to protect them from predators. Knowing how to handle potential health issues and being aware of the daily time commitment is essential.

Choosing the right breed for your climate is important. It’s also important to choose friendly, mild-mannered breeds. I wouldn’t advise getting a rooster to start.

How many chickens should a beginner start with?

A beginner should start with 3 – 6 chickens. If you choose a friendly breed, this number will be manageable and will enable you to learn hopefully without becoming overwhelmed. Chickens are social so it’s best to raise at least three together.

How do you raise chickens for the first time?

Raising chickens for the first time involves setting up a secure coop, understanding their dietary needs, and learning about their behavior and health care. It’s recommended to start with a small number of hens and gradually expand you become experienced. 


Raising backyard chickens is appealing for fresh eggs and organic meat. Homesteading and hobby farming are ways to get back to the basics. However, it does take work.

Consider your goals, resources, and lifestyle. Are you interested in raising chickens for eggs, meat, or simply as pets? Understanding your primary motivation will help you decide if raising chickens is right for you.

There’s a lot to know about raising chickens before you bring them home. I hope this helped explain what to expect should you decide to become a chicken keeper. There are many benefits of raising chickens. Should you decide to start your own flock, I recommend starting small and growing your flock from there.

Remember, raising chickens isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” venture. They need daily care and attention. Make sure you’ve got the time and energy for it.

If you have decided you want to raise chickens, narrow down your main reason for wanting chickens. It will help you decide many of your next steps.

Some chickens are prolific layers (like White Leghorn), others are more suited for meat (like Cornish Cross), some are decent at both, and some are better suited as ornamental chickens. Research breeds to find your perfect match.

Learn more:

Featured image credit of California White chicken: Dawn Head