The cost of starting and then keeping chickens will vary depending on how many birds you want to keep, and how much you wish to spend on housing and enclosures.
Keeping chickens is more expensive than buying eggs from the supermarket. However, that extra cost brings extra benefits to both yourself and the birds. You can start up for less than £300, or even cheaper if you can buy second-hand items.
Firstly, let’s look at start up costs. At the time of writing this, we’re living in a post-pandemic world. The cost of everything poultry related shot up in price during the lockdowns, as many people took to keeping birds at home during that time. Prices are starting to level out, but are still higher than pre-pandemic times.
Chicken coop – Depending on the size and style of coop you wish to buy, depends on the cost. There are coops that are just the coop, and others that have a self-contained run with them.
These can also be picked up second hand from Facebook Marketplace and eBay, and some fantastic deals can be found on here at times.
Estimated cost: New £200 to £400 Second-hand £20+
Drinker – Clean, fresh water is essential for the chickens. The best way to do this is with a drinker. The size and style of drinker will depend on how many birds you have. Some drinkers hold 500ml of water, others hold 20 litres.
Estimated cost: New drinkers can be purchased from about £10
Feeder – Having somewhere to place the chickens feed, for them to eat from, has a number of benefits. Not only can certain feeders stop rats and rodent from getting at the feed, but they can also stop wild birds gaining access to the food. This then saves you money, and can help stop disease from wild animals to your birds.
As with the drinkers, the size and style of feeder will depend on how many birds you have.
Estimated cost: New feeders start at about £12
How expensive is keeping chickens? Startup costs
As you can see from the items above, you don’t need an awful lot to start keeping chickens. Once you have the basics, you can build from there. If you’re buying brand new, you can buy all the above items for less than £300 if you shop around. This should allow you to keep 4 to 6 chickens.
Second-hand, you can buy all the above items for less than £100 if you’re willing to do a bit of repair, or paint an old coop.
How Expensive is keeping chickens? Ongoing costs
In this article, we’re presuming that you have a place to keep the chickens, probably your back garden. This is somewhere that you have access to, and it’s not costing you anything to rent that space. Also, we’ll exclude the cost of water from this, as the amount used by a small number of birds would be hard to calculate.
Feed – Chickens need a proper feed. This should be something like layers pellets or mash. It has been specially formulated and contains all the vitamins the birds need.
Recently, the price of feed has skyrocketed. Where we were buying 20kg of pellets for £9, we’re now paying £14. If you buy online, or from the big chain branded shops (Pets at home etc) you’ll pay more. I recommend that you find your local feed store, as they will be cheaper. With 4 to 6 birds, 20Kg will probably last you at least 2 weeks.
Entertainment – Chickens thrive when they are entertained and have something different to do. This can be as simple as hanging an iceberg lettuce in a hanging basket. Things like this are quick and cheap, yet can provide entertainment for the birds. You should aim to spend a minimum of £5 a week on items like this.
Handy Hint – Visit your supermarket later in the day, when all the greengrocer items have been reduced. You can pick up some real bargains at this time. Even better, get to know the staff there, and ask them to keep any leaves and throw away items for you.
Vets – If your bird becomes ill, or has been attacked, you may need to get it to the vets. There are specialist poultry vets, and these can be found on a Google search, or advertised in poultry magazines.
Many people will tell you it’s not worth taking the birds to the vets, but that is up to your own personal circumstances.
Typically, vets bills will start at about £40 for a consolation, plus any treatment that may be needed.
As you can see, keeping chickens isn’t too expensive once you have the startup equipment. If looked after, much of the equipment will last for years. Plus, if you shop around, there are some real bargains to be had.