Many people start keeping flocks of chickens as a way to make a little extra cash. Whether you have a stall at the farmer’s market every weekend or know a few friends and neighbors who will pay for your flock’s products, backyard chickens are great sources of side income. Even if you’re not keeping chickens for financial gain, there are still ways to turn excess eggs or forgotten feathers into a profit.
Of course, it’s important to pay attention to local laws and regulations regarding backyard chickens and their products. However, if you obtain the proper licenses and take good care of your flock, you can turn your chicken-keeping hobby into a lucrative pastime. If you’re wondering where to make your first buck, check out these eight ways to make money with your backyard chickens.
SELL RICH, NUTRITIOUS FARM-FRESH EGGS
The most obvious money-maker is the supply of delicious farm-fresh eggs you’ll collect from your hens. Depending on the number and breed of hens you keep, you might end up with far more eggs than you and your family can eat. Why let them go to waste? There’s plenty of ways to sell your farm-fresh eggs. Register at your local farmer’s market, or simply put a sign up in the front yard boasting your delicious product. Just be sure to check local laws—many jurisdictions require you to have a license if you’re going to sell eggs and other products from your home. You also want to avoid trying to compete with supermarket prices. Make sure you earn an actual profit by charging a little more per dozen. The organic, homegrown taste and extra nutritional benefits make your eggs worth the extra cost.
SELL ADORABLE DAY-OLD CHICKS
Who doesn’t love fluffy, chirping chicks? These precious baby birds are popular pets at home and in classrooms. Buying chicks is also a great way for people to start their own flocks of chickens. As such, there’s bound to be a good market for day-old chicks in your area. If you don’t want to eat or sell all your eggs, consider putting some of them in an incubator until they hatch. Keep in mind what kind of chicken breeds make up your flock—more popular, purebred chicks will make you more money per chick. You should also have a backup plan in case you end up with an excess number of young roosters. These are less popular for a flock because they don’t hatch eggs and because many cities don’t allow backyard chicken-keepers to have roosters.
SELL FERTILIZED EGGS TO OTHER CHICKEN-KEEPERS
Day-old chicks aren’t the only way to start a new flock. Many prospective chicken-keepers want to buy fertilized eggs to start their own backyard coops from scratch. As we mentioned above, not everyone can keep roosters as part of their flocks. If you have one strutting around your own coop, take advantage of it and the fertilized eggs he helps produce. Once again, the type of chicken breed you own will determine the price of your fertilized eggs. Many chicken-keepers are scouring the market for high-quality, purebred birds who will look pretty and produce well in their own flocks.
SELL PULLETS TO OTHER CHICKEN-KEEPERS
Of course, some chicken-keepers want flocks for the eggs and nothing else. If that’s the case, they’ll be shopping for pullets, or young hens that are about to start laying. Buying hens as pullets means you don’t have to pay for an incubator or brooder. Instead, you can bring your new birds home and quickly start reaping the benefits of their farm-fresh eggs. As such, pullets sell for a higher price than fertilized eggs or newborn chicks.
RAISE HIGH-QUALITY BROILERS
Like farm-fresh eggs, homegrown chicken meat is much better than its grocery store counterpart. If you want to raise and sell chickens for their meat, you need to make sure you have a flock full of decent broiler breeds. Most broilers will reach maturity between eight and fifteen weeks old, but that time will vary depending on which breed you have. If the law allows it, you can save on costs by finding your own equipment, such as poultry processing tools and chicken pluckers for sale, and butchering and processing the birds yourself. If that’s not an option, you can also sell your birds live or send them to a professional processing plant.
PUT THE FEATHERS TO GOOD USE
Most people don’t think of chicken feathers when they think of attractive accessories. However, anyone who pays attention to the different chicken breeds knows that chicken feathers come in all sorts of gorgeous, unique colors and patterns. Lots of crafters know this, too, and they seek out chicken feathers for ornaments, jewelry, or home décor. When molting season comes along, try collecting a few pristine feathers and selling them to Etsy shops and other craft stores in need. You might also be able to sell hackle and tail feathers to local fishermen, as these feathers make attractive, effective fly-fishing lures.
MAKE USE OF THE MANURE
Some gardeners refer to chicken manure as black gold. As strange as it sounds, the litter you collect from beneath your chicken roosts really is that valuable! The high nitrogen content helps plants thrive and creates the perfect addition to soil. Many organic gardeners purchase chicken manure for their lots, making it yet another way to make money with your backyard chickens. Plus, it’s easy and free to make. Simply gather the litter whenever you clean out your coop and set it aside to age. After a few weeks, the compost will be ready for anyone to use in their garden.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
There’s a lot to learn about chicken-keeping. If you have some experience under your belt, you might be able to make some money sharing your knowledge with others. You can start a blog or YouTube channel and share your advice, stories, and experiences with an audience. Become a valuable resource for new chicken-keepers or simply a source of entertainment for people interested in the backyard chicken life. It’s possible to turn these blogs or vlogs into a source of income by finding sponsorships or partnering with others in the chicken-keeping world.
Do you make money with your backyard flock? Drop a comment below to tell us about what you do and how you do it.