Raising Your Own Chickens: A New Hampshire Journalist’s Thrifty Account



(The following is a guest post from Wendy Thomas at SimpleThrift ; Wendy is also a Journalist for the Nashua Telegraph)
As a writer of a weekly newspaper column on thrift, the author of a blog on the same subject, and a mother of 6 children I consider it my responsibility to continually try out different ways of being thrifty.  
Which is how we came to be chicken owners.  
How tough can raising a bunch of cute adorable chicks be? I asked the family.  
Surprisingly, the answer is it’s not tough at all.  
We got our first set of chicks from a reader of my blog who knew I had been thinking about the idea. Well what’s thriftier than free chickens?  She gave us 8 brown chicks with the understanding that she would take back any that turned into roosters (our neighbors were happy to hear about that part).  
The chicks came with a 25 pound bag of food and all we had to add was a food and water feeder. They lived happily in our garage for a few weeks. When the youngsters got their feathers it was time to move them outside. Here is where we had our first and only problem with the chickens – where would we keep them? 
We looked for hen-house plans on the internet and in books and while some were very creative (the cab of a truck was used for one and an igloo made out of hay bales was used for another) we decided to have a local builder make one for us.  
Although we could have made it ourselves, or even jury-rigged something for less money, we live in the woods of New Hampshire where we have raccoons, coyotes, and fisher cats. In the long run for the safety of the birds (and my piece of mind) we got a professionally made hen-house that is so sturdy it could survive a nuclear attack.  
Once we got the chickens in the hen house, the daily care was minimal. Each morning we let them out of the hen-house into the pen. If someone was going to be around during the day, we herded them into the fenced-in dog area where they spent the day eating grass and bugs.  
Other than checking on food and water, that’s it for the daily care. At night, we don’t even have to herd them into the hen-house anymore – when the sun goes down, they automatically go inside.  
We don’t have eggs yet and with the cost of the hen-house we figure we’ll need to sell 6, 723 eggs to break even. Is it worth it? You betcha, the kids are being incredibly entertained and are learning about taking care of animals. They are seeing where food comes from, the work that goes into it, and how people handle that food. There is a new appreciation for what they eat.  
Having chickens will eventually give us those thrifty eggs but those birds are also making us all better global citizens with respect to food.


  1. Vin:
    Here is a link to a program about this topic on the Today show:

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