City Cast

Should I Raise Chickens for the Free Eggs?

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on February 8   |   Updated on June 14
Straight from the source. (Cavan Images/Getty)

Straight from the source. (Cavan Images/Getty)

Which came first, the chicken or egg prices going through the coop roof? Seems obvious: the rising cost of eggs has led, or so it’s been suggested, to a modest surge of interest in growing your own. It soundslike a good deal: In exchange for a few handfuls of chicken feed, you get nonstop free omelets.

I asked Kim Foster about this; she’s an award-winning food writer, frequent guest on the City Cast Las Vegas podcast — and owner of 22 backyard chickens. Her advice: Don’t bother.

“I spend so much keeping chickens I could go to Whole Foods and buy their most expensive eggs and still come out ahead financially.”

There are obstacles galore. In order to keep chickens, at least in the City of Las Vegas, you have to get the approval of your neighbors. (Foster lives downtown, not in a rural area. “My neighbors are awesome,” she says.) Also, the costs are formidable — you’d need a coop, feed (which isn’t cheap), antibiotics and supplements ... and don’t forget those Vegas summers. “My chickens have a swamp cooler,” Foster says. The birds require constant attention, not all of it enjoyable. As another local farmer notes, they’re prone to “poopy butts,” which you gotta clean lest they die.

And if you do get through all that, you can’t defray your costs by selling your backyard eggs; that’s against the law.

So why have *22* of them? “They bring me so much joy," Foster says. "I could have a whole YouTube channel devoted to chickens eating spaghetti, they’re so hilarious.” That is, for the same emotional satisfactions for which you’d own any pet. Plus eggs! Which are fresh and “amazing,” Foster says. On the average, she gets eight or nine a day, and gives plenty away. Very cool. “But," she reminds us, "it’s just not a solution” to the shortage.

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