Raising your chickens free range has become a popular trend among chicken owners. Being able to see your chickens outside, under sunlight is more appealing than seeing them confined in the coop.
While there is a huge list of perks for why you should raise free-range chickens, one of them is that you’ll profit more from free-range chickens.
If you’re looking to start making money from your flock, here are a few ways to make this happen.
Advantages Of Free Ranging Your Chickens
There are far more advantages than disadvantages of letting your chickens free range in your yard or pasture. Below are a few of them.
- Healthier Chickens – Letting your flock have a large range to run and forage in allows them to eat a variety of bugs, seeds, and the like, which makes for healthy chickens. Flocks living in complete confinement are susceptible to respiratory diseases and other illnesses.
- Happier Chickens – Although it may be hard to actually gauge the happiness of a chicken, you can safely bet a chicken allowed to free range will be significantly more content than one living in confinement.
- Higher Quality Eggs and Meat – Chickens who have access to fresh bugs and grass will produce a healthier, higher quality product for the consumer.
Definition Of Free Range Chickens
There can be a lot of interpretations of what constitutes free range chickens. Some large scale producers state they have “cage-free” chicken if they let a few thousand of them running loose in the confinement barns. Though technically it may be true and can be put on a marketing label as such, but it’s hardly “free ranging” at all.
We look at free ranging as having access to an area outside of the coop, either with or without a large run and access to the outdoors. This type of environment allows chickens to truly be chickens!
Raising Free Range Chickens For Profit
We discuss a few of the most tried and true ways to make money from your flock but it’s by no means an exhaustive list.
If you want to profit from your flock, selling their eggs is probably the most popular and obvious choice. If you’re a chicken owner, chances are you’ll probably have leftover eggs lying around at some point. If you want to keep your business small, you could settle for just selling your eggs to friends and neighbors.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking to make a bigger profit off your eggs, you could sell them to local farmers markets, grocery stores, or roadside stands. Depending on the location and season, a dozen eggs can sell for $3 to $6. In fact, most consumers will pay more for your eggs if they are organic or GMO-free!
However, before you start selling your eggs, remember to check your local laws and regulations in regards to grading and washing eggs. In some cases, it becomes legally required when you reach a specific number.
Your country’s agriculture extension office is a good place to start. We also discuss selling eggs for profit here.
Speaking of selling eggs, selling hatching eggs can be another great source of income. If you have a rooster in your flock, then there’s a good chance you’ll have fertile eggs!
If you are not a breeder, you will most likely be able to sell hatching eggs for a similar price as you would your edible eggs, although sometimes farmers will charge more for the added effort of fertilizing them.
It’s much easier to sell fertile eggs locally than shipping them long distances, but it can be done! Read this article to learn more.
A dozen hatching eggs can be sold from $20 to $200. If you’re hatching eggs from a rare chicken breed, you can charge even more.
Consider Getting An Incubator
Even so, in order to create a business from hatching eggs, we recommend investing in an incubator. If you want to sell a large number of hatching eggs, using an incubator is the best way to do it.
You can also make some extra money by incubating other people’s eggs. Individuals without their own incubator will pay a fee for you to incubate their eggs for them.
If you decide to ship eggs, pack them carefully and with delicacy as they could accidentally smash when arriving to your consumer.
Although you can’t control what happens when your eggs are being shipped, we recommend looking into insuring your package as it will be very helpful in the long run. If your eggs crack during delivery, insuring your package will help you be able to refund your clients for the trouble.
Selling Day Old Chicks
Day-old chicks can also be sold for a profit. If you know the sex of chicks, you can sell them for even more.
It’ll be even better if your day-old chicks come from a single breed of chicken, if you are able to breed Easter-Eggers, or sell rare breeds.
Normally, you should be able to start selling them in early spring at local farm stores. But they’ll sell quick on online venues like Craigslist, or OfferUp.
Another popular choice is selling chicken meat. There is a huge consumer audience for poultry, especially if it’s locally raised.
The most common meat breeds are broilers i.e. Cornish Cross (the most common) or Red Rangers. These chickens can be processed in as little as 6 – 10 weeks. Some farmers prefer the dual purpose breeds, which are ready to butcher at around 5 – 6 months of age.
If you are currently raising or plan to raise broilers, you should wait until they are 8 weeks old so they can grow to butcher weight. Depending on where you live, the way you can sell your meat to consumers legally might differ.
Raising free-range chickens will increase their value when it comes to selling the meat. Most consumers would rather buy meat from farmers who raised their chicken outside instead of in large scale chicken “warehouses”, where they are confined together by the hundreds or thousands.
Normally, chickens will need to be processed before you sell them. In some cases, you could pay a processing facility to do this for you.
Check to see if your local butcher shop will provide this service. If you have enough chickens to make it worth their while, you may get a discount. Just know it will also cut into your profits so all of this will have to be calculated to ensure you’re still pulling in a profit.
Generally, once you’ve raised your meat chickens to the desired processing weight, all you have to do is pay the local processing facility, load your chickens in crates, and drop them off. Very simple!
However, you do have the option to process them yourself if you can’t find a facility near you. You’ll have to check with your local county regulations on the legalities of going this route. If you’re a small scale operation, there may be less red tape involved in the process.
For those who have too many hens, you can always sell them for a profit. Raising chickens requires a lot of money, supplies, and attention. It’s very time-consuming and some folks just don’t want to deal with that, which means they would be more than happy to buy an adult chicken from you.
A hen can sell from $1 to $5,000 depending on its breed, health, and background. In our area, we see laying hens selling for $20 to $40 each on Craigslist. Many folks who buy laying hens want good layers. To get top dollar, the hens should be between 6 month and 2 years old so the customer will get a prime laying hen.
If you’re a chicken owner who already has plenty of history and resources for raising chickens, this is a terrific option because you’ll already be able to raise those chickens without having to spend as much money on supplies. In many cases, a young hen is the most profitable adult bird to sell.
If you have a hen that is unable to produce eggs anymore, also known as a ‘Stewing Hen’, you can also make a profit from them!
With all those old layers you can either butcher them yourself or sell them to others. If you are comfortable butchering them, you could be able to profit more off of a freezer-ready chicken. A stewing hen is usually $4.95 a pound.
If you are selling organic meat, the price can potentially be higher, depending on where you live.
When creating a business off of your chickens, the best way to keep it garnering traction is by promoting it. Here are some of our favorite ways to get attention from customers.
Ways to promote:
- Roadside stand
- Online Ads
- Farmer’s market
- Word of mouth
- Social media accounts – Facebook Groups or Marketplace
- Free online listings – Craigslist, OfferUp
How To Grow Your Business
If you’re thinking of growing your business beyond just a hobby, there are many ways to scale it. However, you’ll want to have a solid business plan in place first.
A good resource for learning how to scale a successful poultry operation is from Joel Salatin’s book, “Pastured Poultry Profits,” which details how to start and scale your poultry business.
Although the title states “Net $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres,” the profit potential is MUCH higher now. The book was published in 1993 and, in our opinion, remains the number one resource on raising meat and egg chickens.
Salatin discusses both meat and egg production in the book, focusing primarily on meat chickens. How to build his chicken tractor is included in the book, or a similar version can be found in this article.
Another option is by Jennifer Megyesi in her book, “The Joy Of Keeping Chickens: The Ultimate Guide To Raising Poultry For Fun Or Profit.”
She discusses the ins and outs of raising organic eggs and meat, and provides excellent content that is easy to follow. The book is reasonably priced, making it a nice addition to any poultry keepers library.
Last but not least is Dion Rosser’s book, “Backyard Homesteading: An Essential Homestead Guide to Growing Food, Raising Chickens, and Creating a Mini-Farm for Self Sufficiency and Profit”
The book discusses which breeds to get for meat or egg production, which feeds work best, and what mistakes to avoid costing you money.
Build A Website
Having a website describing your poultry operation can be a great way to advertise. Building a website has never been easier, and does not require knowing complicated HTML, or any of that tech stuff.
Once you’re business is up and running, you can advertise on Google, Bing, or other search engines. This can be done by paid advertising or from creating a blog on your site and getting organic traffic to it.
More information on setting up a website and learning to grow your business can be found here.
Raising free-range chicken definitely comes with a few perks, one of them is being able to profit from your beloved flock. Who doesn’t love a few extra bucks, right?
The advantages of having free ranges chickens far outweighs the disadvantages for your flock, for you, and your customers. Kind of a win win win!
Other ideas for making money on selling eggs is discussed here.
We hope this article provided some insights on how to raise your free-range chickens for profit, whether it be to make a few bucks on the side or as a full time income.
Thanks for stopping by and happy ‘chickening’!