Free “Chicken Expenses Workbook” download for Microsoft Excel– see below.
Many people assume that getting backyard chickens would be a great way to get cheap, healthy eggs. Well, that assumption is half correct – the eggs from your backyard chickens will far surpass grocery store, commercially farmed eggs in both taste and nutrition. However, they are likely to be the most expensive eggs that you will ever eat. The price of $2.00 or $2.50 per dozen that most people are willing to pay for eggs has been greatly depressed by the practices of the commercial chicken industry. Overcrowding, diets containing antibiotics, and a factory-style management system are all designed to do one thing: keep costs low. Every improvement over that system decreases efficiency and increases cost while increasing quality. So, how much does a dozen backyard chicken eggs really cost?
Consider feed. A chicken eats about ¼ pound of food per day, so 91.25 pounds per year. Regular feed is about $15 for a 50 pound bag, or $27.38 per chicken per year (To calculate: 91.25/50= 1.825 x [your cost for 50#]= your cost per chicken for 1 year). Organic feed is about $10 more per 50 pound bag, or $45.63 per chicken per year. A hen can lay anywhere from 80 to 320 eggs per year depending on the breed, and this number declines with age. If an average hen lays, say, 200 eggs per year, that’s 16.7 dozen. At $2.00 per dozen, you’ve recouped $33. If you could get $2.76 per dozen for the eggs on organic feed, you would recoup their feed costs. Very good.
But what about the money you spent on the coop and run? Bedding, grit, treats? Initial purchase price, hatching eggs, incubator? Waterers and feeders? These costs can vary greatly, totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars. (Yup, thousands. Google “chicken coops” sometime.)
Most fanciers consider these costs the price of the chicken fancying hobby. (Hey, all hobbies have costs. Ever take up golf? Scuba diving?) Others try to minimize costs using recycled, freecycled, and bartered materials. But, generally, people do not keep track of costs because it is too much work to tally, or they really don’t care: They simply enjoy what they do.
That said, for those who would like to keep track of what they have spent and earned, I’ve made a Chicken Expenses Workbook using Microsoft Excel that you can download for free from my Scratch Cradle Google Docs. Using the workbook, you can keep track of “Total Expenditures” by entering your purchases and sales. The total expenditures column will tell you how much you have spent on your “chicken habit” overall. If you have actually earned a profit, it will appear as a negative number in the total expenditures column. I hope this is fun and helpful!
Chicken Expenses Workbook (Compatible with Excel 97-2003)
Keep track of how much your chickens are costing you. Click “download” in the upper right of the Google Docs screen.
Enter each transaction on a new line. Every time you purchase something, enter the price under “$ Paid.” Every time you sell something, such as eggs or chicks, enter the profit under “$ Earned.” The “Total Expenditures” column will tell you how much you have spent on your chickens, minus how much you have recouped in sales. If you actually begin earning money, the “Total Expenditures” column will show a negative figure. There are rows for up to 50 transactions. If you’d like to add more, click down the boxes in the total expenditures column to see how I programmed those cells. Unfortunately, unused columns will all show your current expenditures, due to the nature of the formula I used (basically, “=[previous total]+[$ Paid]-[$ Earned]”), but this is a simple visual nuisance. NOTE: Do not add columns or rows to the workbook, or you will need to rewrite the formulas.
Item: Putting down the cost of each individual item will make it easier for you to go back and look up the cost if you are considering buying again. You could then make sales tax a separate item, or just not include it. Alternately, you could put all items from your purchase together on one line (i.e. “Basic supplies at farm co-op”) and then itemize with prices in the notes column.
Source: Write down the store, website, or vendor you purchased from. You could put the web address, email address, or phone number in this column or in the notes. This is also where you can note to whom you sold eggs, birds, etc. and keep track of their information if you might ever want to sell to them again or buy back birds from your line.
Date: Note the date of the transaction.
$ Paid: Only use this column for your purchases. This is where you keep track of money you paid.
$ Earned: Use this column for your sales. Note how much money you took in.
If you went to a poultry show and both bought and sold, you could make one line entry for the show and fill out both the $ paid and $ earned cells. The formula is able to handle entries in both cells.
Total Expenditures: This column (and all blank columns below) will show how much you have spent on your chicken hobby. A negative number in this column means that you are in the black and earning money!
Notes: Use this column to keep track of details, your opinion about products you’ve purchased, things you want to remember next time you are going to buy the same thing, contact information, and so on.
Personalizing the spreadsheet: Feel free to add or delete my pictures and comments. You can add your own, and you can also change fonts and font colors. You can visit the Microsoft Excel website for tutorials. Have fun!