Here’s a fine wee analysis on the costs and benefits of backyard chickens. It’s far from an exact accounting, but it’s both entertaining and prompts a couple of questions. Conventional economists will note a flaw in the arithmetic – the author doesn’t value his own time. He spent an entire weekend turning a dresser into a coop, which means that he under-estimates the savings from raising backyard chickens. Ecological economists will note that he doesn’t value the carbon spent and saved in the exercise. And Joshua Levin, the author, conscious of some of this, concludes very nicely:
At the end of the day, it would be completely irrational to decide whether or not to acquire backyard or urban chickens based on this financial analysis. For example, in the first month alone I spent something approaching 70-80 hours setting up their coop and run, chasing them through neighbors’ yards, and just watching them, none of which I included in this calculation. Obviously, no one would perform such an analysis in order to determine whether or not to get a dog – and they don’t even lay eggs! But given that you may be coming down with a case of chicken fever, this analysis can help us to better understand our own practices and where our energies are best spent when trying to contain costs.
More, including graphs, here.