Wouldn’t it be nice if all the animals on your homestead could make you enough money to support themselves? Although most animals on the farm have a job to do, it’s especially nice if they can bring in enough cash to pay for their upkeep and maybe a little extra left over for the farmer, as well. That’s the way to true self-sufficiency!
A flock of backyard chickens can be found on almost any homestead, and for a good reason. They are truly one of the most versatile, easy to care for critters on the farm. Chickens can provide not only a sustainable source of meat and eggs but also pest control and garden fertilizer, too. But that’s not all. Here are some creative ways your homestead chickens can bring in a little cash, as well.
Sell Your Extra Eggs
This may seem like a no-brainer to most of you, but I’m surprised at how many folks don’t take advantage of this easy way to bring in a little extra income. At certain times of the year, our chickens lay more eggs than we can use, so why not sell the surplus to neighbors, co-workers, and friends? In some states, you can even sell your eggs at farmer’s markets. Better yet, keep an extra dozen or so hens and you’ll probably have enough eggs to sell year-round without increasing your workload too much.
Keep in mind that the amount of money you can charge for a dozen eggs will vary depending on the market in your area. Expect to get somewhere between $3-$5 per dozen in most areas. Eggs from birds raised on pasture and organic or non-GMO feed will bring in a higher dollar. A lot of folks will pay more for pretty brown, green, or blue eggs, so consider having a mixed flock of laying hens that will give lots of different colored eggs.
Sell Hatching Eggs
Get yourself a rooster, and you’ve got fertile hatching eggs! Many folks will buy eggs to hatch out in an incubator if they want to save a few bucks over buying chicks. You could expand your market even further by investing in breeding stock from a highly sought-after breed. In some cases, people will pay $4 or more for one hatching egg from a rare breed bird. Of course, you’ll have to keep your specialty breeders separate from your regular egg layers, so there’s no cross breeding.
Sell Day-Old Baby Chicks
You can make more money selling day-old chicks than you can hatching eggs, so consider investing in an incubator! Have your day-old chicks ready to go in early spring like the farm stores do, or better yet, tap into a different market by having chicks available when the farm stores stop selling them for the year.
Depending on the breed of chicks you have, you can sell them for anywhere from a couple dollars for common breeds to $6 or maybe even more for rare breeds. If you can learn how to sex your chicks, you can charge even more, but plenty of folks are willing to buy straight-run chicks, too. If a lot of people seem interested, you might consider raising a few flocks of different rare breeds.
Sell Grown Pullets
A lot of folks don’t want to deal with the extra time and work involved with raising up day old chicks. They would rather spend a little extra money to purchase hens that are almost ready to start laying eggs. If you have the space for your chickens to forage, this can be a great way to make a real profit from your chickens. Depending on the breed of chicken and your area, you can expect to sell your layers for anywhere from $10 to $25 per bird.
Sell Stewing Hens
Most hens slow way down in their egg production after they get to be a couple years old. Most farmers butcher the oldest hens each year and replace them with young pullets that are just ready to start laying. Another option is to sell the older hens as stewing hens for a few dollars each. Yes, they are probably going to end up in someone’s stew pot anyway, but it might be easier than butchering the onsite, especially if you or your kids have become attached.
Sell Broilers for the Freezer
Did you know that broilers can be ready to go in the freezer in as little as eight weeks? That’s a pretty fast turnaround! You will need to check into the laws in your area before you get started. In some states, you can butcher the chickens yourself and sell them ready to go in the freezer, which is the most profitable. In other states, you may have to sell the birds live for folks to butcher themselves, or you can deliver the birds to a meat processor for an additional fee. If you’ve ever looked at the prices for pasture raised, organic chicken at your grocery store, you know that people are willing to pay a pretty penny for meat that was raised right.
Sell Your Chicken Manure
If you’ve got a lot of chickens, you probably have more chicken poop than you know what to do with. Why not bag it up and sell it to gardeners in your area? You can make a few extra dollars per bag without much extra effort on your part.
Sell Your Feathers
Don’t forget to save your birds’ feathers during molting season or at butchering time. Crafters and fly fishermen will pay more than you’d think for pretty feathers, especially the flashier ones from your roosters and colorful breeds. Some hatcheries even sell a mixed flock of birds with exceptionally beautiful plumage. The best way to sell feathers is to bag them up and sell them at craft shows or on Etsy for use in craft projects like making jewelry, dream catchers, or even tying flies for fishing.
Even if you’re not interested in turning your backyard chickens into a business, many of these ideas can be done without too much extra effort on your part. And don’t forget, all of these methods will work for quail, ducks, and other poultry, also! Try experimenting with a couple different ideas to see what goes over the best in your area.