It's a question we get asked fairly frequently,
It's a good question so whilst waiting to collect Ben from the bus stop this evening (Tom was at his saxophone lesson) I started crunching a few figures.
We buy our chickens from the market when they are 5 weeks old and last year they cost €3.50 each. Calculating how much food they eat is hard as they share supplies with the ducks and turkeys but as a rough estimate I would say €40 for food in their lifetime. So if my maths is right that's 12 x €3.50 + €40 = €82 or approximately €7 per chicken. Each bird probably weights about 5lb/2kg so the meat is about €3.50/kg.
|Young chickens destined for the table|
|Chicken from Eco-Gites of Lenault - home reared|
Now if I was to buy a similar farm reared chicken from a reputable dealer who raises the chickens outside and with a natural diet I would have to pay around €20 per bird. So in that sense we would appear to be quids in (or should that be Euros in?).
... the supermarkets often sell chicken much cheaper. I know a while ago Tesco was selling 2 chickens for a fiver but I have no idea of their size or provenance. I would guess small and barn-raised birds, pumped full of growth hormones, water and suchlike. Not what I want to be eating.
Looking on Sainsbury's website today (sorry, nothing French was available for comparison) I found these prices for whole chickens which I have converted to Euros:
Whole chicken - €3.25/kgSo we appear to be producing meat at a comparable rate to the lower end of the market and cheaper than the taste the difference birds which ours best compare to. But there is still another but ...
Taste the difference chicken - €7.30/kg
Organic chicken - €8.75/kg
In the price to calculate the approximate cost per bird I have not accounted for any of the following:
- Our time to raise them
- Slaughter costs - we kill and pluck the birds ourselves but sending them to an abattoir would raise the cost.
- The cost of running the freezers to store them.
- The cost of packaging materials, any medication needed and other sundry items eg grit, bedding etc.
- The fact that we could lose one or more birds to disease and possibly all if a fox, weasel or suchlike were to get into the pen.
I could sit and play with figures all night but it would not change anything. We would raise our own birds what-ever the cost as we want to eat food that has minimal food miles (we buy their food from the farmer next door), that has had a good life and a quick end and we are repaid with the most fabulous tasting meat. Were we to buy chicken it would have to be those €20 birds raised in the same way as ours.
So with that in mind, yes, rearing our own meat is cheaper than buying it, assuming you do not lose all your birds to a predator.
I would love to hear your views on this subject. Do you raise your own or buy the cheapest meat available. Please do leave a comment below.