Cost-Effectively Raising Meat Birds:

A Practical Guide

by Lauren R

Published January 2, 2024

Hey there, fellow homesteaders and poultry enthusiasts! Today, we’d like to share some insights and tips on cost-effectively raising meat birds. Countless methods exist for raising meat birds, and carefully considering every aspect of the process, from chicks to feed, and housing to butchering can help you understand the true cost and decide what makes the most sense for your homestead. So, let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of raising meat birds without breaking the bank.

Meyer Hatchery - Cornish Cross

Starting with Chicks

When it comes to acquiring your meat bird hatchlings, it’s crucial to shop around and find a great deal on the price per chick without compromising on quality and, ultimately, weight. Meyer Hatchery offers a variety of high-quality meat bird options, and with a 48-hour livability policy and quantity discounts, we’re an excellent choice for sourcing high-quality meat bird chicks. Shop around and let us know if you have any questions we can help you with! Meat bird chick prices can vary, and finding a good deal on high-quality birds can have a significant impact on your overall expenses.

Reusing Materials

Being resourceful is a key factor in cost-effective poultry raising. Check your homestead for materials you can repurpose when building coops and runs. Old lumber, wire mesh, and other salvaged materials can help you save on construction costs. Another excellent option is to search local listings or Facebook Marketplace for used materials or coops – just make sure you trust the source and properly sanitize them before using if you choose this route.

Calculating Feed Costs

Feed represents one of the most significant expenses in the process of raising meat birds. Creating a spreadsheet for tracking your expenses, noting the cost per bag of feed and the quantity each bird consumes, is a great first step to understanding the cost of raising your meat birds. Different meat birds will need different feeds and different amounts of feed. For example, Jumbo White Cornish Cross, you should estimate about 15 pounds per bird to reach the butchering size. Don’t restrict yourself to just one feed source; reach out to several local feed stores, explore online options, and consult with local poultry keepers to find the most affordable and quality feed source in your area. Buying in bulk is also a fantastic idea if you can afford it and store it properly. By carefully managing your feed costs, you can effectively control your budget and optimize your feed purchases.


One significant cost-saving opportunity lies in the butchering process. You don’t have to outsource butchering or invest in fancy equipment to get the job done; it’s possible with very limited equipment. Nevertheless, investing in supplies such as a plucker might have a higher initial cost but proves its worth over time as it can be used for years and saves a significant amount of time. You can learn the basics of butchering through books or even on YouTube, our YouTube channel has a great Chicken Processing Video to walk you through the process. If you haven’t done it before, it may be worth it to you to find a mentor or someone who offers butchering classes in your area. Additionally, depending on your budget and time constraints, you might choose to outsource someone local to you to butcher your birds for you.

Spreadsheet for Cost Analysis

We’ve created a free printable spreadsheet that helps you calculate your costs per chick, feed expenses, and more. This is a great tool to give you a clear picture of what you’re paying per pound, helping you make informed meat bird decisions for your homestead.

Raising meat birds can be a rewarding endeavor, both in terms of cost savings and knowing where your food comes from. By following these cost-effective strategies and using the provided spreadsheet, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of your expenses and can work towards optimizing your meat bird operation.

Remember, every homestead is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. The key is to be resourceful, stay flexible, and keep exploring ways to reduce costs without compromising the health and well-being of your birds.

Enjoy your delicious, homegrown meat!

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