I ran the numbers on our broilers today. The first bag of feed (when they were tiny little chicks) lasted 3 weeks. During weeks 4, 5, and 6 we fed one bag per week. Finally, through weeks 7 and 8 we fed 2 bags per week. That’s a total of 8 bags of feed and at $22 per bag, that brings our total feed bill to $176. Since we processed 22 birds, our average cost per bird was $8 per bird or $1 per week per bird. Not bad.
I did not weigh every bird, but half were roosters and half were hens and I weighed enough of them to know that most of the hens were a little over 5lbs and most of the roosters were a little over 6lbs. There were a few hens just under 5lbs and conversely there were a few roosters just over 7 pounds. Anyhow, I did weigh almost half of them after processing them and the average weight was 5.68lbs. Multiplying that number by 22 birds brings the total weight to 124.96lbs (we’ll say 125lbs).
Since we could only fit the hens that were under 5lbs into the poultry bags, we had to part out the majority of the birds. We bagged legs, thighs, wings, and (boneless) breasts on most of the birds and threw the carcass out. I did weigh every bag that went into our freezer and the total weight of the “bagged” meat was 88.42lbs.
Using the average weight of 5.68lbs and a cost of $8 per bird for feed, our cost per pound for the whole bird was $1.40, but since we aren’t selling these and we put up 88.42lbs of meat our actual cost per pound came to $1.99. Still, a very good price for pastured broilers fed certified organic and certified non-GMO feed.
We’re not ready to retail broilers yet. There are several things we need to have in place before we do…
- We want to build a couple of Joel Salatin style tractors that will house 50 birds each (we’d like to test the waters with 100 birds).
- We have a building that we are going to convert to a processing and storage facility for our broilers and eggs. We will only process our own broilers, but we will need two or three chest freezers to store our “retail” birds when we get them back from the USDA certified processor. As our egg business grows, we will add refrigerators for storing eggs until they are delivered to market.
- We have a trailer to haul the chickens, but we will need to purchase enough poultry crates to safely and comfortably deliver 100 birds.
- When the birds are ready to pick up, we will need multiple large coolers to ice them down for the trip back to the farm.
- Lastly, we will need a feed storage building so that we may buy our feed in bulk to cut expense.
Cornish-cross broilers are selling on the Clemson Area Food Exchange (CAFE) for just over $28. That’s for a bird that weighs between 5lbs and 6lbs. I don’t know how much of a markup is put on the bird, but I’m guessing the grower is asking for $25 and the markup is $3. If I can maintain a feed cost of $10 per bird (I know my cost for this batch was $8, but feed prices fluctuate) and assuming a processing fee of $5 per bird, my expenses (excluding gas and labor) will be $15 per bird. That leaves us with a $10 profit per bird and with a batch of 100 birds that comes to $1000 or $125 per week income.
I know $125 per week income does not sound like much, but you have to consider that the amount of time spent caring for these birds each day would probably be 20 minutes or 140 minutes per week. That comes to around $53.57 per hour. Not bad when you look at it in that light. The key for this to become a successful operation is to have a quality product, a reasonable price, and a great marketing plan. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
[Farming is a profession of hope.]