Objectively Determining a Chicken Sale Price: Part 2

Here are the quotes on bulk retail prices from the local feed mill.

Bulk, retail Quotes from Feed Mill
soybean 519 /ton
cornmeal 194 /ton
wheat mids 184 /ton
ground limestone 110 /ton
alfalfa meal 484 /ton
trace vitamins 60.35 /50 lb use at 5 lb/ton
salt 6.15 /50 lb use at 5 lb/ton
locally roasted soybeans 508 /ton 30% Protein and 20% Fat
kelp from acadia 59.75 /50 lb 10-20/ton

By linking the percentage make up of desired ration (from Polyface Farms ration), I can get a estimate of the costs per 50 pound bag

My desired Ration
Ration Percentage Price per mixed ton Price per mixed 50 lb bag Substitutions Notes
Corn 52% 100.88 2.522
Roasted Soybean 29% 147.32 3.683 Soybean meal, cottonseed meal
Crimped oats 11% 20.24 0.506 Whole oats using wheat midds for now
Limestone 1% 1.1 0.0275
Fishmeal 3.50% not mentioned by feedmill Protein booster, not availible from rockingham
Kelp 0.50% 11.95 0.29875 Probably Topdress, unless increases to replace nutrient
Probiotic 0.10% Probably Topdress (fast track)
Nutrient booster 3% 72.42 1.8105 Maybe salt + Kelp + trace vitamin? See PDFs
100% Total 353.91 8.84775

Seeing it will cost me around $9 per 50 bag at retail prices, I can use the chart provided in my previous post to estimate the cost to feed an individual broiler chicken in its lifetime.

Age Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Total # of Bags
One Bird 4.2 oz. 9.2 oz. 3.7 oz. 18.8 oz. 26.1 oz. 34.5 oz. 38.5 oz. 42.6 oz. 46.5 oz. 14.63 lbs.
25 Birds 6.56 lbs. 14.38 lbs. 21.41 lbs. 29.28 lbs. 40.78 lbs. 53.91 lbs. 60.16 lbs. 66.56 lbs. 72.66 lbs. 7.32 bags
50 Birds 13.13 lbs. 28.75 lbs. 42.81 lbs. 58.75 lbs. 81.56 lbs. 107.81 lbs. 120.31 lbs. 133.13 lbs. 145.31 lbs. 14.63 bags
100 Birds 26.25 lbs. 57.5 lbs. 85.63 lbs. 117.5 lbs. 163.13 lbs. 215.63 lbs. 240.63 lbs. 266.25 lbs. 290.63 lbs. 29.26 bags

The above chart from The Organic Feed Store shows that I will need a maximum of 14.63 pounds of feed per chicken in its lifetime.

Next in raising my broilers is moving a pen and refilling feed/water. A total of a half hour per day spread across the 75 birds per pen. Processing a 75 bird batch will take around 4 hours assuming my scalder/plucker builds are successful.

Hours Labor description
0.5 Labor for moving/feeding per day per 75 birds
0.006666667 ^ Per day single bird
60 Days birds are alive
0.4 Labor per bird over its lifetime
4 Processing labor for 75 birds
0.053333333 Processing labor for 1 bird
0.453333333 Total Labor per bird

From brooding to processing, the birds will need to be feed a maximum of 60 days in their lifetime so each bird will take .45 hours of labor to raise.

Adding up the feed and sourcing costs, I can figure my bottom line.

Bottom Line
2.23 Cost of chick at 50 Per order
0.5348 Cost of shipping per chick
5.35365165 Total cost of Chick in lifetime
90% 10% Loss Factor Constant
3.5 Average Dressed Weight
3.5 Price charged per pound
6.206713515 Profit
13.69127981 Hourly Wage


Manually inputting various pricing per pound, I found that $3.50 will provide an hourly wage of almost $15. Keep in mind that all estimated cost are done conservatively and the birds should source 20-30% of their feed directly from the pasture. Any increase in efficiency, decrease in feed costs, minimizing of losses etc. will give me a raise. As a centerpiece of my farm operation, seasonal pastured broiler production will support my desired lifestyle while I explore additional avenues for income.

 Here is a link to Google docs for my spreadsheet if you wish to download it.

Cattle, Chicks, Garden

Rainwater Collection Series 4: Flow Chart of Flowing Water

To recap the journey water makes on my farm:

Solar distilled water in the atmosphere

Falls as precipitation

Barn roof


Collection Barrels

Pumped up to elevated tank (Via this DC or solar powered pump)

Gravity fed to irrigate plants OR Gravity fed to water animal/fill mobile tanks OR Gravity fed through filters into potable water tank

Cattle, Garden, Side Projects

Rainwater Collection Series 3: Purifying Rain Water for Human Use

The last main hurdle of settling on the property is purifying the rain water that has run off the metal barn roof that has been treated with who-knows-what then stored in petroleum based tanks that my leach additional undesirables. Here is the catch, I don’t want to have to use power whatsoever to purify the water (excepting my DC solar pump).

First of all, I plan to purify water for drinking, bathing, washing dishes, cooking and any other miscellaneous needs. Between all of those uses I will conservatively require about 10 gallons a day of purified water. How can I do this without additional energy use?

The first step is a basic filter to remove debris and extend the life of later components. A simple layer of gravel then sand should do the trick.

Here is the gem: Ceramic. During manufacturing, sawdust and silver is mixed into the ceramic clay. When fired in the kiln, the sawdust combusts leaving behind microscopic channels that allows water to travel through the ceramic while bacteria are too large to fit. Silver impregnation provides a hostile surface for microbial activity. A simple scrub with an abrasive sponge removes the top layer of ceramic and refreshes the filter. I haven’t decided on a specific filter yet, but this one is along the lines of what I am considering.

Lastly, a replaceable and homemade activated charcoal filter will remove any chemicals that have leeched into the water on its journey to my farm. With the filter medium available in various quantities, it will be simple to incorporate the homemade and changeable filter into my design.

The last piece of the puzzle is a storage tank. I would prefer a non-petroleum based tank to store the fresh water. Preferable stainless steel and something that could tolerate a bit of pressure when pumping the water out. Does this ring any bells with anyone? If I can legally find a 15.5 gallon half barrel beer keg to use, I will remove the spear and add my own fittings. FYI, most beer kegs including the ones for sale on craigslist are property of the beer distributor who issued the keg when it was full of beer. Any you come across second-hand are technically stolen unless the seller can prove otherwise. Even though I personally view the legal requirement to use a distributor is right up there with cartels and acts a barrier to entry for smaller guys, I’ll still find a keg through legal avenues. Do whatever aligns with your ethics!

Regular water testing will ensure my system is safe and continues to be s0 as it ages.

Cattle, Garden

Rainwater Collection Series 2: Rain Water Collection Barrels

With the exhaustive calculations for gutter and downspout planning complete, the next hurdle is for containers to collect rainwater. Craigslist to the rescue!

While I could pick up the typical blue 55 gallon plastic drums for around $40 each, I could spend double that for the roughly-cubic 300 gallon containers in the metal mesh. I plan to order at least 5: 1 for each of the 4 barn downspouts and one for the hayloft of the barn. Since the time of writing the draft initially, I have purchased 4 300 gallon tanks which you can read about here.

Why one in the hayloft? I plan to utilize a DC solar powered pump to push the water from the rain collection tanks up into the hayloft in order to gravity feed most paddocks as well as the fruit and vegetable garden. Ideally I would put a tank in the top of the unused silo to gravity feed the entire property, but that my be an engineering feat beyond my ability.

I also want a sixth barrel of equal or lesser size to mount on a trailer in order to more-easily water the furthest paddocks when animals are present.

Cattle, Garden

Rainwater Collection Series 1: Gutters for Barn

WARNING: This post gets dense!

Rainwater collection is another vital aspect of my farm operation. While a well is drilled, pumped and plumbed, I would prefer to save its operation for emergencies. I will be designing a system that uses as little energy as possible.

An aspect of large initial investment will be to instal gutters on the barn. Its 60 foot by 80 foot pitched roof serves as a perfect mechanism to harvest solar distilled water, aka precipitation. I want to do my own legwork in designing a system before I contact installers for quotes. has available a resource in this PDF Proper Gutter and Downspout Sizing.

An important piece of data to acquire is the rainfall intensity over a 5 minute period for 10 year and 100 year rainfall events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a tool that allows you to retrieve data for a specific location either visually by panning and zooming in a map or by inputting coordinates.

Following the sample calculations found on page 6 of the Gutter Supply publication using my barn and location, the process is as follows:

Total roof area in two dimensions is 80 ft *60 ft = 4800 square feet

Roof pitch is vertical rise/horizontal distance from start to end of rise is 15 feet vertical over 30 ft horizontal * 12 inches/foot = 6 inches per foot (on my barn)

According to Table 1-1 in the Gutter Supply publication, the constant for my roof pitch adjustment = 1.10

Therefore roof area adjusted for pitch is 4800 square foot * 1.1 = 5280 square feet

Number of downspouts desired = 4 (my preference)

Roof Area covered by each downspout is 5280 square feet / 4 downspouts = 1320 square feet per downspout

Because of the poor amount of cities represented in the PDF, I compared my rainfall to a few cities using the NOAA tool. Knoxville had a 5 min rainfall total of .440 inches while my location has .437. Close enough.

Per the terribly formatted Table 1-2 in the PDF, 1 sq inch of gutter can drain 180 square feet of roof area. So 1320 square feet / 180 = 7.333 square inches as a minimum per downspout.

Finally, comparing the figure of 7.33 square inches to the Table 1-3 in the PDF shows that 4 inches of any shape gutters would perform adequately in a 10 year rain event.

Following the final 3 steps shows that I would need a minimum downspout size of 10.15 square inches in a 100 year event at .690 rainfall intensity. 4″ gutters would still serve in every shape except rectangular corrugated.


Wow Bravo if you stuck through that. None of the other posts in this series will be this technical!