It takes more than a few thousand birds, some high-quality food, and a chicken coop fence to start a chicken farming operation. However, if you plan on becoming an entrepreneur and building a business from scratch, a chicken farm is a safe and profitable investment in the long term. Here is everything you need to know about increasing your revenues from this activity.
The American tastes regarding meat-based sources of proteins have changed in the past few decades, shifting from beef to chicken meat as the latter is more affordable and, allegedly, healthier. The truth is that as long as you opt for organic chicken meat, it can help you lose weight and live a longer, healthier lifestyle.
With an industry worth around 50 billion dollars in 2013, poultry production is one of the most profitable sectors of the American economy. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, there were over 230,000 poultry farms in the United States, but less than 10% are specialized in organic agriculture, providing safe, non-GMO and hormone-free poultry meat.
In 2014, the U.S. poultry industry produced around 100 billion eggs and 9 billion broilers, and the demand for chicken-based products only increased in the upcoming years. However, chicken demand didn’t only increase in the United States but has become more popular around the globe, with a 40% increase in the European Union and 183% in India, between 1996-2016.
And, if you would think that the poultry industry would be oversaturated by now with farms and farmers, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, recent surveys and predictions in the field confirmed that the global chicken demand will continue to increase in the upcoming decades, a sign that not all people are willing to go vegan and remove meat-based productions from their daily diets.
Thus, starting your own chicken farm could be profitable, as long as you keep into account the market’s demands and are willing to dedicate as much time as possible to the business.
Understanding the expectations of customers
Although most chickens continue to live in harsh conditions, without having access to natural light and with less than one square foot of space, it comes as no surprise that the poultry industry is on fast-forward, similar to the big fast food chains it stocks.
Most chickens are fed with a special mix of superfoods, injected with nutrients and minerals to grow faster, and reach the shelves of supermarkets in less than one month. And, while the practice is not illegal, it does raise some questions about the industry itself.
However, things appear to have changed in the past decade, thanks to those who joined the slow-food movement, in a desperate attempt to raise awareness of the dangers injected poultry meat poses.
Unfortunately, up to 70% of the meat we consume today is injected with estrogen, a growth hormone that will later affect the quality of the meat and threaten our health. Regular consumption of injected meat can lead to precocious puberty, overweight, obesity, and heart diseases to name but a few of the potential dangers.
It is one of the reasons why people become more self-conscious about the food they eat and now try to opt for organic alternatives.
Organic poultry farms may cost more to build but, according to recent studies, they can generate up to 20% more revenues and profit than regular farms. People are willing to pay extra for products that come from verified sources and are farmed naturally, without the use of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals.
Why are chicken farms profitable?
When it comes to chickens, almost everything can be of use. The meat and eggs are used for consumption, while feathers can be given to other manufacturers to make pillows, decorations, and even clothing items and accessories. Thus, raising chickens is profitable because there is always an industry in need of the things this bird can offer.
Chicken farms are also relatively easy to build and handle. Unlike other larger animals like cattle or sheep, chickens require less space to grow and are easier to look after. Moreover, they are less demanding in terms of food, so they will eat almost anything, including table scraps, meat, and vegetables.
Building coops and houses is also affordable and, most importantly, chickens require less space to roam around. Therefore, you’ll be able to house more birds on a small surface than you would do with other animals.
Another thing that you should take into account is that hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs. So, unless you want the eggs fertilized and ready to hatch another generation of chickens, you will be fine by getting just hens.
Job description and education requirements
The reason why more than 40% of the newly opened businesses fail within the first three years is that their owners don’t have the necessary financial and economic education to run a business. They don’t know the basic principles of the economy, how to handle their finances, and how to create and market products that will appeal to their customers.
Opening a chicken farm is a full-time commitment but it can bring you many benefits. You shouldn’t expect to take extended vacations, not at least in the first years of business, especially if you don’t have someone who can replace all of your duties at the farm.
In order to thrive in the field, you should be educated in animal science or agribusiness. Unlike other businesses, you don’t necessarily need a formal education to run a chicken farm but this doesn’t mean you should start unprepared. Turning your business into a profitable one does require research and knowledge, so you should at least opt for some business classes or lessons on how to raise birds.
Keep in mind that raising chickens is always on fast-forward as it takes around six weeks until the birds can be processed for their meat, so you won’t have much time for actually learning about the business process once you set up the farm.
How much money should you expect?
This really depends on how much effort you are putting into the business and how big you want it to be. If you’re a newbie in the field, we suggest starting with a micro farm that shouldn’t count for more than 200-300 birds. Raising chickens for eggs is the fastest and easiest way to start making a profit, especially if you consider focusing on non-GMO and organic farming.
According to farmers in the field and statistics, you should expect a monthly net income of around 2,000 dollars for 300 birds laying eggs. This includes all additional costs you’ll be facing such as buying the chickens yourself, organic feed, coops, and regular checkups at the vet for potential pests and diseases.
Raising broilers is also profitable as it takes them about one and a half months to grow to the perfect slaughtering weight. Depending on your qualifications, local laws, and permits, you can later choose to butcher the chickens yourself and reduce the costs for further processing the meat. Most farmers receive up to five dollars per meat pound or around 20 dollars for a whole bird.
If you are passionate and dedicated to the business, you can earn around 60,000 dollars per year from being a farmer, so we’ll let you be the judge of that and decide if it is worth the effort or not.