The Cost of Raising Meat Chickens – Is it Worth It?

This year we raised our first meat chickens, and boy, was it an experience. But the real question is, will it save you money?Is the cost of raising meat chickens worth it?

cost of raising meat chickens

The answer?

It depends.

Man, don’t you hate that answer? I do too, so I promise if you keep reading this post, that answer will make more sense.

When we bought our meat birds we decided we weren’t going to butcher them ourselves. We want to eventually do the butchering ourselves, but I wanted to learn how to raise them first. I wasn’t sure I was ready to be responsible for the butchering part, which is super scary if you’ve never done anything like that in your entire life.

I mean, I learned how to gut a fish once, but that was like, in grade 7, which is a LONG time ago now.

Don’t ask me to do it now because I’ve forgotten how. I guess it’s one of those “if you don’t use it you lose it” kinds of skills.


So, let’s just get right to it. By choosing to not butcher them ourselves we were not saving ourselves money by raising our own meat birds.

We knew that going in. We still wanted to do it because while I speak a lot about frugal living, I also think some things are worth putting your money into if your budget can handle it.

Food that is raised in a happy, healthy environment is one of those things I consider worth it. We knew what our chickens were eating. We knew they were treated well. We knew they weren’t injected with any kind of antibiotic or whatever else kind of stuff to make them grow quicker.

When we did the math we figured it pretty much cost us as much as what we would pay in the grocery store. If I am going to pay the same price as meat in the grocery store, why not go with the better quality choice?

Now, some people say it costs them more than the grocery store, but I didn’t really find that. Of course, food prices vary depending on where you live, and meat prices have really risen in our area, even at the budget grocery stores where I shop.

I also like to think about the cost in savings by just avoiding entering the grocery store. Obviously man can not survive on chicken alone, but if you have your freezers stocked with home-raised meat, and your pantry with food you preserved from your garden, your grocery store trips can be fewer and farther in between.

I’ve noticed a decrease in our grocery trips this Fall. It’s a 40 minute drive to our main budget grocery stores in the area, so that is a significant savings in gas for us.

I know that some people supplement the feed they give to their meat birds with things like milk from their dairy cow or goats, so there are ways you can cut down the cost a bit.  We don’t have a cow or goat at this point so we were unable to do that this time around.

One of the most pleasant surprises about these chickens is just how big they are. For the past year or so, everytime I go to the grocery store I feel like the chickens are getting smaller, yet more expensive.

Look, my kids are already eating me out of the home. I need as much meat as I can get to feed this crew.

I was also able to get the feet of the chicken from the butcher. Now, before you get completely grossed out by this, chicken feet are full of collagen which helps skin maintain it’s elasticity. It increases red blood cell production, and helps your body absorb calcium. It can strengthen your immune system, and help wounds heal faster.

Basically, those feet are full of absolute goodness for our overall health.

The feet can be used to make bone broth, just like you would use chicken bones to make broth. However, you do want to cut the nails off and skin the feet, because, let’s just think about where those feet have been.  There’s a line, even for me, and that’s chicken toenails and feet skin.

If you need some guidance on how to prepare chicken feet for broth, check out these instructions over at The Elliott Homestead.

Oi. I just know this is the blog post that is going to be the reason I start receiving some emails. I can already see the raised eyebrows.

Sometimes we have a hard time digesting (no pun intended) the fact that someone eats something most of us don’t, but it’s often because it’s not our “normal.” But if we really gave some thought to what we eat on a regular basis, many of us would find that we all eat some interesting things.

And in other parts of the world, eating chicken feet is actually quite common. And not just in broth like we do. People have been known to fry them up and eat them in for a meal.


So, bottom line – while we didn’t save money raising meat birds, it was completely worth it to have good quality food. As a family of foodies, we really appreciate good food. The reason we do most of what we do on this homestead is for the food!

Aside from the cost, we learned a few things about raising meat chickens.

They are REALLY dirty. They spend most of their days just sitting. The older they get, the more they sit. We had white broilers, so sitting all day coated those feathers in grossness. I don’t know if grossness is even a word, but there really is no other way to say it. Aside from getting up to eat and drink, our meat birds preferred to take it easy most of the time.

They don’t like people to cuddle them. I don’t know if this was just OUR meat birds, but they did NOT like us to pick them up and hold them. While some may say this is the nature of chickens in general, our laying hens LOVE to be picked up, petted, and given attention. I’m convinced God made it this way so it’s easier to part with the meat birds.

They eat A LOT. Okay, maybe this is a given, but we went through way more feed than I thought they were going to go through. They also drink a lot. I felt like I was constantly filling up their waterers multiple times a day. Of course, I’m only comparing them to my laying hens (which I also own less of), so maybe this isn’t a lot in general, but their food and water needed constant checking up on.

All in all, it was a good experience for us and now that our freezer is FULL of chicken, we personally have come to the conclusion that the cost of raising meat chickens is worth it for us. Combining that with our pantry full of food we preserved from the garden and from berry picking in the Summer means we feel prepared for the winter.

This year was our first full Summer at our homestead and so it was the first year of learning how much we could put away for the winter. Next year we hope for that to grow. We also hope to grow our homestead animal-wise. We’ve chosen to add things slowly so as to not get burnt out. Now that we’ve done both laying hens and meat birds, it’s time to venture out to something bigger. What that is, we don’t know yet, but hopefully in Spring we can add to our homestead.


Related: How to look after Baby Chicks – A Beginner’s Guide

The cost of Raising meat Chickens - is it Worth It?
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The cost of Raising meat Chickens - is it Worth It?
Raising meat chickens is a great homesteading adventure, but let's talk about if it is financially worth it.

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