Are you considering starting up your own chicken selling business? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to any endeavor, so it’s an excellent idea to consider all the different angles and logistics. Not only will you need to consider your product, but the operation setup will also require careful consideration.
Why Should You Consider Selling Chickens?
1. Offset Costs of Chicken Keeping
Fun little hobbies can be exciting, but we all know they can be financially draining. Selling chickens is a good way to make some money to help offset the costs of your small scale chicken operation. If you have more space, you can even expand to possibly make up a larger, profitable small business.
2. Rid Your Farm of Surplus Birds
Even if you are not ready to launch into a chicken selling business, you may be interested in getting rid of extra birds. Yet, when selling a couple of dozen excess birds at the end of a production year, it’s good to know how to sell your birds for the best price.
What Chickens Will You Sell?
Especially when getting started, it’s a good idea to choose one area to focus on and perfect that, instead of jumping in the deep end and try to do everything. In the beginning, pick your area of concentration and devote everything to making sure you have a streamlined process. Look at the different options of chickens to sell and choose which will work best given your circumstances.
Selling young chicks is probably the easiest way to start your new business venture. While chicks sell for less money, they also don’t require an extravagant setup. When properly certified, one can ship day-old chicks across the country under appropriate conditions.
2. Started Pullets
Started pullets are likely the most desirable birds to potential sellers due to the fact that the work of raising chicks has been bypassed. Who doesn’t want a young hen just a few weeks away from laying as opposed to a day old chick?
The biggest issue you will encounter is struggling to get an appropriate amount of money for the work put into started pullets.
3. Laying Hens
There will always be a market for good laying hens because there’s no waiting around for eggs. You’ll get the most interest selling laying hens between 6-12 months of age. However, as with started pullets, it will be difficult to get a return on the investment that’s in the bird in regards to feed and time.
4. Excess Roosters
I certainly don’t recommend getting into the chicken raising business for the purpose of selling roosters because there simply isn’t a market for them. You may be able to advertise the occasional extra roosters you have, but it’s harder to rehome roosters because everyone already has too many of their own.
If you go into breeding rare breeds, it will be slightly easier to rehome excess roosters, but still not enough to have an entire business based on selling roosters.
Choosing Which Breeds to Sell
1. Assessing Your Potential Market
Before you begin randomly picking the breed you want to sell, you need to look at the market around you.
I live in a very rural and financially struggling area where everyone wants chickens for one thing: eggs. If I were to start selling expensive and rare ornamental breeds, I would be hard-pressed to find customers when everyone around me just wants dependable egg layers.
Look at your potential customers and your area. Do you have a large and successful poultry show where there are many chicken keepers raising show birds? Do you live where people mainly just want chickens for the fun of it and are looking for fun pets?
Looking at your potential customers and the market to select the right breed is crucial to making wise decisions that will result in a successful business.
2. Egg Layers
If you live in an area similar to mine and see your main market being egg layers, look into dependable egg layer breeds.
Things to look for would be excellent egg production and early egg-laying age so you’re able to market a perfect egg producer. Plymouth Rocks or Buff Orpingtons would both make excellent choices for those looking to breed a good egg producer.
3. Colorful Egg Layers
If you live in a more posh and trendy area, you may have people that are willing to spend money on a colorful egg layer. Breeding colorful egg-laying chickens can definitely be more challenging, but people are willing to pay good money for a colorful egg basket. Marans, Ameraucanas, and olive eggers are all good options to market as colorful layers.
4. Rare and Endangered Breeds
Rare and endangered chickens are great fun to breed because they’re birds you won’t see in just every yard. Breeds that are harder to find easily sell for more money.
However, that means you’ll need a market of people willing to spend more money on a rare or endangered chicken. You’ll want to live in an area with plenty of poultry hobbyists and fanciers looking to step up their coops with fun new chickens.
5. Pets or Lawn Ornaments
In urban areas, a lot of people choose to keep chickens just for the novelty of chicken keeping or to have pets around. In this case, you’ll want to choose breeds that are well suited to be children’s pets and birds that will look especially adorable prancing around a yard.
Consider Your Chicken Operation Setup
Another thing to consider before jumping into a chicken keeping business is how you’re going to set everything up.
You’ll need to be sure you have space and resources to make the initial investment of time and money because it takes a bit of preparation.
1. Your Breeder Setup
Even before the birds for sale enter the picture, your parent stock will require a decent amount of attention. Different breeds will need different breeding pens in order to keep each breed pure for purebred chicks.
Another important cost that you’ll need to factor in is a good incubator. In order to hatch and sell your own chickens, you’ll need a reliable incubator that can be counted on to hatch several chicks at a time.
2. Setting up to Sell Chicks
Once you have the setup for your parent stock, your work isn’t quite over. What are you going to do with the birds for sale? If you plan on selling chicks, they’re luckily one of the easier options to set up for.
Make sure you have a large brooder to hold several dozen chicks between hatch and time of sale. It’s also a good idea to have at least one pen to contain birds in the event you don’t sell all your chicks and end up with some growing birds with nowhere to go.
3. Setting up to Sell Pullets and Hens
To have a good setup for selling started pullets and hens, you’ll need to have a setup for every stage of life from chick to adult.
If you simply plan on selling started pullets that haven’t reached the point of lay, consider some simple coop options. A simple chicken tractor without a big nesting area would work perfectly for young birds to be sold before reaching laying age.
Further research is needed before taking the leap, and these are very important. You’ll need to check the legal requirements regarding selling livestock and poultry in your area. There aren’t that many restrictions you’ll need to worry about, but better off safe than sorry.
In addition, you can get the NPIP Certificate. NPIP stands for National Poultry Improvement Plan and this certification is an excellent way to show your customers that you are a responsible chicken breeder.
Being NPIP certified means following strict guidelines but it also enables you to ship birds across state lines.
Getting NPIP certified will cost some money, but it is well worth the investment. Here is their Program Standards document on what you should adhere to.
There are different rules regarding certification for every state, so do some state-specific research for your own state. You can likely find the information you need online, or contact your state vet or the USDA Veterinary Services Office for reliable information.
Talking to other poultry breeders in your area will also give you some useful information regarding selling poultry.
Make Sure You Raise Healthy Birds
The health of your chickens is the most imperative point reflecting on your character as a businessperson and chicken keeper. Make sure you have proper practices in place to keep your flocks healthy so that anyone would be happy to buy from your chicken selling business.
1. Setting Rigorous Health Standards
The first step to raising healthy chickens is in your small, everyday practices. Keep clean living quarters, make sure you aren’t crowding birds, and don’t feed spoiled food to your flock.
In the event that you have a sick bird, immediately isolate it from all other chickens. If you have multiple pens and flocks, make sure that the pen associated with the sick bird stays apart until you are sure no other birds are infected.
2. Beware of Parasites
One of the first things any savvy chicken keeper looks at when assessing a potential purchase are areas where parasites tend to gather. It’s surprising how many of even the most seemingly competent breeders can have mites and lice on their birds.
Check your chickens routinely for signs of both internal and external parasites and immediately treat to avoid infestation. Good preventive measures include keeping a healthy chicken dust bathing area as well as clean coops.
3. Implementing Good Biosecurity Measures
Biosecurity is an important practice that involves safety precautions in order to keep your chickens safe. These practices will especially come into play when bringing new birds to the farm, having visitors or visiting other farms, and taking birds to and from auctions and poultry shows.
In instances when chickens have been exposed to outside environments, they’ll need to be quarantined. Whether it’s new birds coming to the farm or current birds that have visited auctions or shows, they’ll need strict quarantine. Separate birds in a pen away from all other birds for two-three weeks and closely observe them for any signs of illness.
In the event that chickens have signs of illnesses, keep them separated until the issue has been identified and all birds are healthy again.
If you have visitors from other farms or visit other farms yourself, make sure you can’t possibly be tracking bacteria from one farm to another. If possible, sanitize shoes and clothing before going around your flocks to keep all birds as healthy as possible.
How to Determine the Price of Your Birds
Pricing birds so that you receive the money you need to keep your chicken selling business going and customers happy is tricky. Your top considerations when determining price should be the breed you’re selling, as well as time and money invested.
1. What You’re Selling Matters
If you’re selling a Buff Orpington chick, you’re not going to be able to charge the same amount you would for an olive egger. People are willing to pay more for chickens that are rare breeds or colorful egg layers.
Use this to your advantage if you have a more interesting breed than run of the mill feed store chicks. Looking at prices that other poultry suppliers use for their chickens will help you gauge what can be obtained for your chickens.
2. Time Investment
When it comes to time invested in your chickens, think about the fact that you’ll have approximately the same amount of time invested in a flock of 10 started pullets as you will a flock of 20 started pullets. Raising birds in larger amounts won’t take more of your time, but can double the return amount you receive.
3. Monetary Investment
The main monetary investment in your birds will obviously be the feed, but there may be additional expenses such as bedding and medication. Keep track of all your expenses as you raise your birds for sale.
If you’re selling day-old chicks, obviously you won’t have spent much money on the chicks themselves. However, if you’re selling started pullets, you’ll definitely need to keep track of your expenses.
When the time comes to sell your birds, divide the amount of money you’ve spent on that particular batch by the number of birds you have to sell. The resulting number will be what you’ve put into each bird so you’ll know the minimum amount you’ll need to charge to break even.
How to Advertise Your Chickens
Now – you’ve got healthy birds and you’ve determined a good price, next you have to come up with a good marketing plan. Even if you have some of the best birds around, without a good marketing strategy, they won’t get too far.
1. Advertising Properly
Nothing says professional like a well-written advertisement and good quality images of your birds. I can’t tell you how many ads I take one look at and discredit because of poor grammar and description or blurry, unfocused images. People like a product that appeals to them from the moment they begin considering it.
Make sure to include information that your potential buyer will find useful such as age, sex, parent stock, and one or two useful tidbits about the breed. Making sure to add good quality images that best represent your product is crucial to putting out a good advertisement.
2. Marketing Online
The internet is an excellent resource for marketing livestock in both rural and urban areas. Unfortunately, Facebook has banned the sale of live animals, which has cut out a large platform that many people used frequently.
Fortunately, there are still resources that can be utilized for the sale of chickens, such as Craigslist and BackYardChickens. Craigslist is good for local sales but can have its fair share of scammers, so beware of your buyer. BackYardChickens is an excellent tool for reaching thousands of chicken keepers across the world.
3. Attending Livestock Sales
Livestock sales are an excellent place to make good connections as well as sell and buy chickens from all different sellers. The biggest thing to keep in mind with livestock sales is that any birds you do not sell will have to come back home with you and be quarantined from the rest of the flock to keep up your biosecurity plan.
4. Social Media
While you can’t sell chickens on Facebook, you can create an Instagram page to share about your birds and farm life. In doing this, you will build an audience that may be interested in purchasing birds from you eventually.
5. Word of Mouth
Lastly, do not discredit the power of word of mouth, especially in smaller communities. Letting people know what you have available and doing good business will keep community members recommending you to everyone they know. On the other side, if you don’t do business well, you can also gain a reputation as an untrustworthy seller.
The Importance of a Positive Buyer/Seller Experience
When you have a customer that is ready to purchase from you, it is up to you to make sure you provide a positive transaction. Supply your buyer with the birds you advertised and make sure to do so in a timely manner. Be upfront about any potential issues and don’t try to slip in any unhealthy or less than prime birds.
In the event you have an unsatisfied customer, it is worth it to do everything you can to make it right in order to keep a satisfied customer base.
Some people are difficult to please and you can’t always please everyone, but most of the time you will find that customers are happy to work with you for quality birds.
Are You Ready?
There is a lot to consider when it comes to selling chickens, and not everyone is ready to make the jump. Perhaps you’re ready but you’re realizing maybe there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye. Do your research and homework and before you know it, you’ll be ready to strut over into the chicken business.
When it comes to raising birds for other people, making sure that you provide the highest quality chickens and apply the best business practices are imperative to being successful.
There is certainly a lot of work that goes into a successful chicken selling business, but when it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s well worth it.
Plus, it’s certainly fun to know that your birds are going out to so many people who will carry on the lineage of your birds!