‘Eggflation’: What’s More Expensive, the Chicken or the Egg?

Hand holding eggs and chickens in the background
Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash

Egg shortages and prices have increased, begging this question: which is more expensive, raising a chicken or buying the egg? Egg prices have continued to rise since 2022. In December, prices were up by 60 percent compared to prices in 2021. This means that the average cost of a dozen large Grade A eggs went to $4.25 in December of 2022 from $1.79 in December of 2021

According to USA Today, egg prices have increased due to holiday demand, higher production costs for farmers, and widespread outbreaks of bird flu. As of Jan. 18, 2022, 57,868,714 birds have been affected in 47 states and 371 counties, with outbreaks in 16 counties in Washington. This is the first outbreak since 2016, where 50.5 million birds were affected by this highly contagious flu. Farms don’t have enough chickens to produce enough eggs for their usual demands. This has caused stores to limit the number of cartons shoppers can buy, and prices go up for everyone.

You may be considering raising your own chickens to provide eggs and avoid these prices. Raising a chicken requires a few one-time costs for things like a coop, lighting, and food and water bowls. If you want to use your poultry for meat, it also requires an incubator and rooster. Chicks can be adopted from shelters or rescues, or they can be purchased from local farms or breeders. 

The cost of chicks and pullets, or young hens, varies between $2 and $6 each. The initial investment, including the coop, feed, bedding, fountain, heater, light, fencing and vaccination costs, can vary between $515 and $1,200. Owners can expect to pay $200 to $400 per year to raise a small flock in a coop. There are also more ways to raise chickens on a budget, like getting a manual coop and using recycled bedding like newspaper in it. 

If you’re interested in raising chickens, it is important to know that they do carry health risks for their owners. Poultry can carry bacteria like salmonella on their bodies and in their feces, so it’s essential to take the proper precautions to not get sick. This includes keeping young children and people with weakened immune systems from touching them, washing your hands before and after an interaction, and removing the eggs from the nest immediately. 

The chicken may be more expensive than the egg after all, but raising your own chickens comes with its own benefits: having fresh eggs, being sustainable and being able to learn from the process.