The economics of urban chicken ranching

My wife had a dream of raising chickens and she made it a reality.  It wasn’t something I was extremely eager to get into at first.  But I have to admit that they are fun, curious little creatures.

Our town allows up to 10 hens in the city limits, and no roosters.  We raised this flock from chicks.  Our oldest kiddo was just a toddler when we first got those little fowls.  So yeah, we’re pretty invested nostalgically to the idea of urban chicken ranching.  It’s a great educational tool, and a fun family activity.

chicken children
chicken children

But what about the economics of raising city chickens?  Just how do the cost of these eggs stack up?  Here’s a quick breakdown…

Store Bought Eggs

When our layers aren’t doing their job, we supplement from Costco.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 10.53.06 PM


Their cost for cage-free brown eggs is currently$8.22 for 2 dozen.  That’s our target egg price to beat by doing this ourselves:

{$8.22}/{24 eggs} = {$0.3425}/egg

Homegrown Eggs

So just how many eggs do our 8 chickens produce?  That’s a hard number to estimate.  It varries based on the season; egg production is a function of light (not warmth).  But for the sake of this exercise, I’ll assume {1} that the average number is only 2 per day total.  I think this is a rather conservative number; in summer the number is more like 5-6 per day, while in winter it’s sometimes 1-2.

So, with that daily quantity, let’s look at our yearly numbers:

({2 eggs}/day) * ({365 days}/year) = {730 eggs}/year

Last year’s expenses came to $230.84.  Then to compute our per egg cost:

({$230.84}/year)/ ({730 eggs}/year) = {$0.3162}/egg

Now compare the two:

 $0.3162  <  $0.3425

There you have it.  We beat out Costco by a feather.  Of course I’m not factoring in all my labor.  But then, the Kid Happiness Quotient is also not added in, which of course is invaluable.


  1. This reminds me of a great Physics 101 joke: “The spherical chicken“ []

Leave a Reply