If you want to make money homesteading, one of the first things you should do is figure out how to make money with chickens.
Once you start raising chickens, it’s natural to consider how you can make money with chickens. You spend a lot of time creating their home and taking care of them, so why can’t they add a bit to your pocketbook in return?
The truth is chickens are not the most profitable homestead animal you could raise on your homestead. However, they are the most accessible livestock, and making money with them is possible if you have a great business plan.
I’ve tried a variety of ways to make money with our backyard flock, and I wanted to share a few of these ideas with you. Any of these can and do lead to an income, especially if you take the time to run the numbers and create a true business plan.
Related: 35 Ways to Make Money on a Homestead
12 Ways to Make Money with Chickens
1. Sell Chicken Eggs
The most obvious way to make money with chickens is to sell your surplus eggs. Depending on where you live, fresh chicken eggs cost between$3.50 to $5 per dozen; you have to recoup your costs for the care and upkeep of your flock.
When your egg production is high, selling eggs really isn’t hard. Some of my friends simply put a “Fresh Eggs” sign with a table at the end of their driveway and have success. Others makes posts on social media and sell them to their friends and family.
Pricing fresh eggs is a big tricky, but remember, you AREN’T competing with the grocery store prices. Your product is different and healthier, so set your prices higher. Take into account the money it takes to food and take care of the flock. I would suggest no lower than $3.50, but people in my area will pay $4-5 for a good dozen of eggs.
There are some considerations when selling chicken eggs as part of your business plan.
First, during the winter months, chickens slow or stop laying eggs. So, account for that loss of a profit.
Next, look at your local area and determine the average cost of eggs. Consider how you will market your eggs. Are they free-range eggs? People often pay more for those, but then you need to look at what their price is and if you will come out making a profit.
Also, think about the size of a backyard flock you need to have to make true profit. If you spent $15 per week on feed, that’s a flock of about 10 laying hens. At the peak of the season, you will get around 70 eggs per week, so less than 6 dozen. You will need to keep some to eat – are you going to make a profit?
2. Sell Fertile Eggs for Hatching
If you have a rooster in your flock, you have fertile eggs you can sell for hatching, but in general, these are only going to get you more money than the fresh eggs IF you have a high-quality, popular chicken breed.
Remember: you need to have a rooster to have fertilized eggs!
Popular chicken breeds can fetch a good price per dozen, sometimes over $50 per dozen! I’ve seen rare breeds sell for $100 for a dozen eggs, so picking different breeds could be quite lucrative. Remember, these are the same eggs you could sell as eating eggs, as long as you have the right breeds.
On the other hand, the market is smaller for fertile hatching eggs, so you may have to become certified to ship the eggs. That takes more paperwork and cost on your end!
If you really want to make money from a flock of backyard chickens, I think this is the route to go, but you need to have an interesting breed or two in separate pens. Yes, you will need to make sure you ONLY have the rooster and specific hen breeds in the pens together. Your customers aren’t paying for backyard breeds.
3. Hatch & Sell Chicks
Another idea is to sell day-old baby chicks to local chicken lovers. The chicks may cost anywhere from $5 to $15, depending on their breed. Breeds of higher quality or rarity will cost more than the regular, run-of-the-mill chicken breed.
Spring is the most popular time to sell and buy baby chicks, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have success at other times. Fall is often a good time to sell baby chicks since people are looking at their bird losses over the summer and trying to get ready for the spring egg season.
You will sell chicks for a few dollars each if they’re a common breed and straight run, which means they’re unsexed. If you know how to sex your birds, you can sell for more, but make sure you know how to do so properly.
However, if you sell sexed, you will end up with a surplus of roosters.
If you’re going to sell day-old chicks, you’ll want to have a good incubator on hand that does the work for you to get the eggs ready to hatch.
4. Raise & Sell Pullets
Take it a step further and sell pullets and mature chickens. However, roosters are typically way lower on the desired list; you’ll want to sell primarily hens.
It’s ideal to sell pullets or mature hens to beginner chicken flock keepers. Despite what people might suggest, it’s a lot easier to start with pullets rather than trying to raise baby chicks.
The benefits of selling started pullets rather than day-old chicks is that you can expect to sell each bird for $15 to $35 per bird. That is a bigger profit even if you do have to buy food for the birds.
Again, the breed of chickens you have will also increase or decrease the overall price of your started pullets. People will pay more for adult chickens if they really want the breed you have.
5. Sell Stew Hens
Believe it or not, I’ve seen organic farms sell their stew hens and make a decent profit.
Chickens lay eggs for years, but they reach their peak after three to four years. After this time, their production dramatically decreases, and you end up having a chicken nursing home with a bunch of old hens doing nothing for you.
The good news is that you can sell older hens as stew hens. These birds are older so their meat is not tender like you’d get with a young bird. That’s why they’re ideal as stew hens; they’ll give you great broth and delicious soup.
Typically, a stew hen sells for around $5-10. This isn’t very much, but it will save you money since you won’t have to feed her anymore. Keep in mind the laws of your state; selling meat off your homestead may not be legal without proper inspections.
There are a few others options instead of selling them ready to go. Try selling the stew hens alive and having your buyers do the butchering work. Another option is to sell the hen alive and butcher it with the buyer as a “training” class for dispatching chickens.
6. Sell Meat Birds
Pasture-raised chicken is hands-down the best type of chicken meat you can buy, and if you have clientele who are focused on eating the best quality meat, you can make money by selling broilers.
The best thing is that you’ll be able to see a profit quickly. Cornish Cross chickens take around eight to ten weeks to reach butchering weight. So, if you make the right plans, you’ll be able to sell several rounds of meat birds before winter hits in your area.
Make sure you pay attention to regulations for selling meat since they vary by region. Do your research to learn whether or not it is legal to sell home-butchered meat birds. Another option is to send them to a butcher for professional processing, but that would increase the price tag for your customers.
Like stew hens, a way to get around this loophole is to sell live birds, allowing the buyers to process them at home. Also, remember, the average price per pound is $2-3 per pound, but if your meat birds had an organic diet and live on pasture, you can sell for a higher price per pound.
7. Sell Show Birds at Farm Auctions
Show birds aren’t your typical chicken breeds you might find at your local farm and fleet store. If you raise show birds and head to local auctions, there is money to be made. However, if you want to make the best money from show birds, I suggest selling them individually; this is the best way to get the most for your money.
8. Sell Chicken Feathers
Feathers have always been used as accessories since they come in a large array of colors, shapes, and patterns. Some breeds have gorgeous tail feathers! Consider selling feathers to artisans who want feathers for their accessories that they sell as well.
If you’re a crafty type person, you may want to try making jewelry or accessories yourself from the feathers. Many local shops will sell your items, featuring local artists.
9. Bag Up & Sell Chicken Manure
Chicken manure is like gold for gardeners, and it comes free simply by raising your chickens. It’s a natural by-product of having a flock, so why not take advantage of it?
Gather the waste under your chicken roosts; it contains a high nitrogen content that will encourage plant growth. Chicken manure is great for soil amendment, but it has to be composted ahead of time. If you try to apply it directly onto your garden, you risk burning your plants.
10. Make & Sell Homemade Chicken Feed
Right now, the price of commercial chicken feed continues to rise, and the quality may not be as good as you hope. If you have a recipe for homemade chicken feed that you love, consider making a business out of it and selling it to others bagged up.
You could take it a step further and sell chicken treats as well. People love treating their flock, but the bags at the store are expensive. You can grab a bag of bulk mealworms and create your own protein treats.
11. Write about Chickens on Websites
If you like writing, consider writing about raising chickens or starting a chicken keeping website. It’s possible to monetize a blog where you share all of your chicken keeping knowledge, but you also can find homesteading websites that will pay for you to write about your chicken expertise.
As chicken keeping becomes more popular, sharing your experience will help someone who is new. You might also consider starting a YouTube channel, a highly popular option.
12. Build Chicken Coops
Are you a handy person who likes to build? Then, you have another great way to make money with chickens – build chicken coops.
A lot of people want chicken coops and understand that the ones sold in the stores aren’t ideal, especially if you want a sizable flock. Consider offering custom-built coops with different options for your fellow chicken coops. A lot of people will love this service and pay great money to avoid them having to do the work, and homemade chicken coops several for hundreds of dollars each.
Where to Sell Your Chicken Products
Now that you know the different ways you can make money with chickens, you have to figure out how and where to sell them. For some people, this is easy, but a lot of people aren’t natural sellers or have no idea where to get started.
It’s important for you to be a responsible seller. Focus on products that are priced appropriately, fresh, and packaged appropriately. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to
One of the best places to make money with chickens is the farmer’s market since they always want people selling their fresh products. Make sure you double check your state laws to ensure you can legally sell chicken products without inspection.
The downside to this is that many farmers markets have a fee for the table, and if you’re only selling eggs, you may not make very much money here.
One of the options I’m considering in the future is a farm stand. These are often placed at the bottom of your driveway and uses the honor system. You can place your eggs and anything else you may have available for purchase that day, and people can leave cash or send you Venmo.
This is the most hands-off way to do it!
Make some posts online using your social media and sell your eggs. People love fresh eggs or other products, so you may get a great response.
Whether you want to sell fertile hatching eggs or feathers to artisans, I guarantee there are online groups for this purpose. Consider finding homesteading groups for your state if you want to sell day-old chicks, pullets, or even homemade chicken feed.
Here is another option to sell your products and money money with chickens, but once again, check your state laws. States don’t always make it easy.
Many restaurants look for local eggs because the quality is far higher than the eggs from the store. If you raise other animals like quail or ducks, you might find a better market at local restaurants.
What You May Need to Get Beforehand
One of the important things you need to consider when you want to make money with chickens is your profit ratio. You are going to have to purchase supplies before you even sell anything, so keep that in mind. You’ll be in the red before you see any profit.
Before you make money with your flock, you have to raise your chicks up for several months. This means you’ll have to buy things like heat lamps or brooder plates, chick feed, a brooder box, and more. It takes a lot of hard work raising up healthy chicks to hens before you’ll see any profit, remember that!
The Feed Cost
I can tell you that feed cost is a big deal, especially right now as inflation continues to send the price of everything through the roof.
On average, a single hen eats 1.5 pounds of feed per week. So, if you have a flock of 20 chickens, you’ll need around 30lbs of feed per week. Right now, a 50lb bag costs anywhere from $15-25!
If you free range your flock, even for part of the day, you can help to decrease the feed cost. However, free ranging isn’t possible for every person, especially those who don’t homestead on the small scale.
Housing for Your Flock
Then, you’ll have to think about the cost of housing your flock. This means chicken tractors for raising out the new chicks or broiler chickens, and the permanent coop were you keep your adult flock. Also, don’t forget bedding expenses, but you can compost used chicken bedding because it turns into black gold for your garden.
Last, business expenses are a reality. If you want to make money from your backyard flock, you’ll need things like plenty of egg cartons, which cost money, packaging and shipping materials, and you might have to pay for licenses depending on your local regulations.
If you have a flock of backyard chickens, use them to make a bit of extra cash. You can make money with chickens in a multitude of ways, and one of them will work for your homestead!