Skip to comments.Area Residents Raising Chickens for Fresh Eggs (IL)
Posted on 07/18/2009 8:07:22 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
HOMER, IL It may seem like an easy way to save a little money on your grocery budget: Buy a few chickens and start collecting farm-fresh eggs.
An increasing number of families in our area are doing just that, and some are also selling their surplus eggs to neighboring families.
Garry Herzog, owner of Prairieland Feeds in Savoy, said there's been a steady increase in demand for "laying feed" for chickens over the past two to three years. He said his store also gets many requests for how-to information from chicken-raising rookies.
And if Yahoo! is any indication, the interest is skyrocketing. Yahoo! searches on "chickens for sale" is 162 percent higher than last year and searches on "raising chickens" is 576 percent higher than 2007.
The reality of raising chickens, however, is that you can end up paying more to produce your own eggs than if you had just picked them up at the store. This is especially true since the price of eggs has been dropping.
Bob Smith of Homer has been raising chickens on his 5 acres and offering his extra eggs for sale to his neighbors for just over a year now, but has prior experience with the birds from the '80s. He also keeps guinea hens and ducks. He said his 75 chickens produce a surplus above his family's needs of about two dozen eggs a day. The money he earns selling fresh eggs to neighbors helps cover the cost of feed, but doesn't really bring a profit, he said.
No cheap chicks
Smith said the rising cost of birds is also a concern for families who want to keep yard chickens.
"I went to order more guineas this year with a friend who also wanted some. I paid $42 for 40 chicks six months ago. The same order was going to cost $150. The cost more than tripled. We canceled the order because we're not in this for business, we just like the birds."
Apart from the cost of the animals, setting up a chicken operation involves buying or building an appropriate, predator-proof coop, purchasing feeders and waterers, putting in fencing if they are not to run free, and, if you start with chicks, installation of a heat lamp. Depending on whether you use prefabs or construct your own facilities, you may have to invest anywhere from a hundred to several hundreds of dollars before you ever get your first egg.
Experience is showing that the main benefit to raising your own hens is not economic. It's better eggs. Fresh eggs from your own birds can be much lower in cholesterol and higher in nutrients than store-bought eggs, depending on the diet you feed the hens.
Jo Overbye, a mother of three in rural Homer, has four roosters and 11 hens, 10 of which are currently laying. She said she gets about six eggs a day during the summer, though that's slowed down because the birds are starting to molt. Overbye said that the chickens don't save her money.
"I just always have wanted to have fresh eggs, and now that we live in the country, I can. Honestly, you don't have to do a lot to set this up," Overbye said.
Better for the noodles
Julie Dohme of rural Broadlands, also a mother of three, said her chickens produce eggs with a darker yolk and richer flavor than store-bought eggs, which gives pie crusts and homemade noodles better color and flavor.
Chickens are omnivorous and aren't especially picky about what they eat. They can help control insects and dispose of kitchen scraps. And the used coop bedding, which needs to be refreshed weekly, can be composted.
It is important to know specific local ordinances for your area before you start raising chickens. For example, the Champaign city legal department confirms that keeping poultry within city limits is forbidden.
Urbana is more liberal in this respect.
Urbana Animal Control Warden Chelsea Angelo said that in 2001, Urbana removed most prohibitions on keeping livestock and poultry within the city. She pointed out that ordinances relating to sanitation, animal cruelty and noise disturbances all still apply and are enforced. Angelo said that there are a lot more chickens in Urbana than most people would imagine and that regulation is needed to deal with free-ranging chickens in town.
I’d rather spend $2.50 on a carton of Eggland’s Best eggs.
And then the inevitable feud with the neighbor when his dog gets a taste for your Rhode Island Reds.
America in the 21st century(and much of the latter half of the 20th).
Just had some fresh brown eggs for supper that were given to me.
You wouldn’t think there could be that much difference in the taste of an egg. But day-um...it was good!
I was in charge of raising the chickens when I was a kid. The chicks are sooooooo cute. That stage doesn’t last long. Then comes the chicken stage, not so cute. Then the fresh eggs, great! And some eggs are neat shades of brown too! We’re talking the 1970’s here, before the enviroweenies were so loud. I liked those brown eggs because they were pretty not because they were organic!
Then the chickens get to that big stage, the stage where you have to end their laying days before they get too tough to eat.....well, we slaughtered the chickens at the farm ourselves once. Let’s just say the sight of seeing a freshly slain chicken run around with it’s head cut off is still a vivid memory...after that year we sent them to the chicken “processor”.
Farm raised chicken is the best chicken on earth. Breasts as big as store bought turkey breasts. Eggs, the best.
After I went to college in 1980, the chickens, pigs, beef cattle, all magically disappeared...no more free labor from me! So after that it was all store bought meat and eggs. The folks still have a nice big veggie garden though.
Raising the animals was great. I appreciate it more now than then of course. Now I have my own place and 2 horses, 2 dogs (1 husband).
I don’t think city chickens are a good idea. Chickens are rather....smelly. Noisy of course too. And it’s unlikely those chickens will end up on a dinner plate at all. Maybe that’s OK. It’s just not a good idea to have livestock in town.
OK, TMI, but I don’t want to go to sleep yet...
Hey Diana, did you get to see “Public Enemies” yet and did you like it?
My grandson has chickens, we love the eggs but it really isn’t all that cost effective if you don’t feed them a lot of leftovers.
I used to have chickens and I didn’t feed them much I let them out during the day and I kept a light in their pen and they had all the bugs they could eat.
Raising chickens isn’t just about saving money.
The eggs are healthier and the hens are downright entertaining.
Aren’t they awfully noisy to inflict on your neighbors? Just asking ... don’t know too much about chickens! lol
Do you mean the inevitable fued with my neighbor when my air rifle gets a taste for his trespassing dog's hind end?
Wow 2.50? They’re FOUR dollars where I live.
I hope not!
Roosters are quite loud, but hens lay plenty of eggs without a rooster for miles.
Our barred rock girls and Mr. and Mrs. Turkey eat their weight in ants and weeds now. We set them on an ant hill and well...poor ants!
I’ve read that it’s not too hard to keep clean if you keep them in a movable hen house.
If chickens eat fleas in the yard, I just might be able to talk my daughter into it! lol
My chicken tractor is almost done and yes it seems to be true about the cleanup being easier.
Chickens will eat almost anything you put in front of them I think. They’ll eat whatever bug that crawls into the chicken run!
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