Hypothosis- do fresh eggs from spoiled, free-range chickens taste better and can it be cost effective, while living in a suburban environment and using easily available support products.
Facts gathered- 1. Taste is subjective. The color of the yolk is definitely deeper and brighter and generally, the participants thought the eggs tasted a bit better. We do not possess the equipment to test for actual vitamin and food values so there is no attempt to prove that the eggs are actually "better" in that area.
2- Cost- Cage and pen materials $250, Dr. visit $400, cost of chicks $21, Costs of hay and bedding material $50, feeding equipment $100, food $240 ($10 mo.) Total - $1061.
We used PVC pipe, wire, chicken wire, bird cloth, steel posts and a manufactured shade tent. We recycled some equipment and lawn furniture for the roosts and nest boxes. The birds mostly ate wild bird seed mix and free range grass/bugs/down fruit/most of my garden. Medical expenses could be avoided by simply eating the sick chicken, but it was part of the learning experience to try to heal the poor thing.
Actual egg production- I didn't count every egg, so the number is an estimate based on the average number of eggs layed during their laying life in the experiment. There are periods of time when chickens do not lay- youth, brooding, moulting. One started laying at 5 months old, one at 9 mo. one at 7 mo. One layed no eggs while broody for 3 months, one layed no eggs while moulting 3 mo., one was an inconsistent layer.
Bieging- 60 eggs Q- 320 C- 200 Total- 580 eggs.
Apprx $1.83 per egg.
The experiment ended last night with about 3 pounds of prepared meat and a large bag of feathers.
Conclusion- chickens are very fun pets, lay tasty eggs that cost a fortune, make a mess everywhere, and get up very early. I prefer them to dogs or cats, but do not want to continue the experiment any further.