Chicken farming is a good way to live off the land while pursuing self-reliant living. You won't get rich raising chickens for their meat and eggs, but egg money has been a way to pay for the extras for years, or at least until the last few decades when the factory production of our food separated us from the whole process of normal, healthy food.
Eggs from free range chickens and chickens kept in chicken tractors are some of the best and healthiest out there. And while you will likely have to go through quite a bit of red tape to be a certified organic chicken farmer, people who know you will likely still be happy to purchase healthy chickens for meat rather than from the grocery store.
There's also another reason why pursuing chicken farming now, at least on a part-time basis is wise: Should the economy collapse, food will be one of the most valuable and sought-after commodities, and will likely go a long way to help you survive.
So how do you go about pursuing an income in chicken farming? Here are some tips.
Again, if you want to set up a business selling chicken meat, you will be facing quite a bit of red tape to get permission, including inspections. But you can sell a live chicken to anyone. Then, if they want to butcher that chicken on your property with your help, that will be fine.
Think about your market - the people you plan to sells eggs and chickens to. These people are likely to be health conscious or parents who want good, healthy food for their children.
Put yourself in their place, and think about what they want. How can you serve them better than your competitors? If your market is primarily going to be people you know, then inviting people to see your farm and how well you care for your flock might be a great selling point.
Also, make sure you take all your costs into consideration before you set a price. Don't forget the cost of feed and your time. Raising chicken for profit is only worth the time and effort if you are reasonably compensated for your efforts.
And finally, consider how big of a business you want. Before you say, "As big as possible!" think about the amount of work you can handle.
I once kept 30 hens in five different chicken tractors. Moving the tractors every day along with giving them food and water twice a day proved too much for me, along with taking care of small children, homeschooling and working on this website.
Sometimes simpler is the better especially when it comes to marketing chicken eggs and meat. Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. It's cheap (your time only) and is a great form of communication if you use it on a regular basis.
The couple we buy raw milk from is an effective team for production and marketing. He milks the cows and delivers the milk, while she sends out the friendly, often funny emails letting everyone know of any price changes, delays in deliveries, etc.
Writing emails in an engaging and informative way is a great way maintain a warm, profitable relationship with your customers and will go a long way in building your self-reliant income.