When to Sell a Chicken Instead of Eat It

On St. Patrick’s Day we threw a party (that I made adorable FREE invitations for) and had a blast.  The best part of the entire night?  We sold 4 chickens.

Apparently now when you come to our house you’ll be offered chickens and rabbits as a parting gift.  You know you really fit in with your family when they don’t laugh at your offer for live animals but instead help you box up 4 chickens to put in the trunk of their car.  Love you guys.

So why did we sell them instead of put them on the dinner table?  WELL.  It all started when my mother-in-law bought her own chickens last spring.  After she saw how much fun we were having with our 8 baby chicks from My Pet Chicken, she went out and bought 4 pullets of her own that were already laying.  We had a blast all summer swapping treat secrets and chicken stories.

Then our girls started laying.  And kept laying.  And soon we were up to our ears in eggs.  My mother-in-law had her own eggs and plenty to share so we had fewer people to give ours to.  Our egg basket was constantly full despite giving eggs to the neighbors two dozen at a time.

(Why not sell the eggs?  The farm fresh egg market is pretty saturated where we are – every street corner there’s a $3/dozen sign.  The plan was never to sell the eggs but eat them ourselves and share them with family.)

Come winter we agreed to board my mother-in-law’s four chickens since our coop was more weather hardy.  We went from eight to twelve chickens overnight and a couple family members stopped eating eggs due to high cholesterol.  An increase in supply and decrease in demand was not what we needed.  Thankfully the hens slowed down their production a bit over the winter and we had a chance to almost empty the egg basket.

Once the days started stretching out in February we were back to getting 10 to 12 eggs a day.


Honestly I’m shocked we lasted until St. Patrick’s Day at that rate.  We gave eggs to anyone and everyone who would take them.  It wasn’t until my mother-in-law began dropping hints she might not be taking her chickens back that we started looking for permanent solutions.

The girls were young, fabulous layers so we felt bad butchering them.  Not bad enough that we wouldn’t do it given the astronomical organic feed bill twelve hens will run up in the winter time (and the amount of poop they produce), but bad enough that we wanted to explore other options first.  When you have a chicken that is young, healthy, and productive but you cannot afford to care for it then it’s time to sell it.  One exception being if butchering and consuming the meat is more financially beneficial to you than the price you would receive for the animal.

In our case, we fetched $15 a bird for 4 birds, totaling $60.  Whether that calculates out to a better price than we would have paid per pound for organic chicken meat at the store, I’m not sure (it’s tough to gauge how much meat is under all those feathers).  Even if it doesn’t, we were THRILLED to be offloading 4 birds (translation – 28 eggs per week) and making someone else happy to boot.

After almost a year we’re just now starting to enjoy a consistently balanced egg supply and demand.  I knew there was a reason we chose eight chickens to begin with.  Needless to say St. Patrick’s Day was eggcellent for everyone.

Do you have any experience selling birds instead of butchering them?  Please share your stories in the comments, other readers and I would love to hear them!

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