Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ThinkKit D11 - Charting Our Chickens

Day 10 of the ThinkKit challenge asks us to draw a pie chart or Venn diagram describing some aspect of this past year.  I'm opting for a line chart because I've got something I've been documenting these past 12 months that I want to visualize.  Namely, this year's egg production from our backyard chickens.  Over the course of this past year, I've been logging feed purchases and egg production in order to answer two questions.  First, is this backyard experiment costing me more money than it would cost to buy the same quality eggs at the store?  Second, can I validate that chicken egg production is closely related to the position of the sun in the sky.

Come to find out I despise this particular chicken
Regarding the overall cost, here's a breakdown:

  • Total eggs laid, 2012: around 394 (we may have missed a few entries)
  • 6 X 50lbs. of chicken feed at $20/bag = $120
  • 3 X 5lbs. of chicken scratch (i.e. cracked cord) at $3 per 5lbs container = $9
  • Let's say, $40 in fence and posts for the run we built out this year.
That leaves us with a cost of around $169 in 2012 to maintain three hens.  This breaks down to about $.43/egg.  Let's say a dozen free range eggs at the store costs $5 (which I'm pretty sure is accurate) or $.42/egg.  So, it's a wash for 2012.  Without the hardware investment, it breaks down to about $.32/egg.  So, given I don't go out and decide to build the Taj Mahal of chicken coops in 2013, we could maybe save a little money.  That wasn't the goal or anything, but it would be nice to finally have a hobby that didn't cost me money.      

There's a lot of variance in this chart.  This is due in part to  a handful of bouts of broodiness as well as losing old Red and having to raise the pullet we acquired to replace her.  As mentioned above, we've read that egg output is dependent less on the cold weather and more on the position of the sun in the sky.  Well, this chart doesn't really validate that notion.  So, I don't really know what to say about that.  All in all, I had a notion that there would be large swings but not like this.  I have no idea what to make of it.

Note, the low spot in May was a result of one broody hen and another pullet not yet old enough to raise eggs.  So, I was essentially feeding birds for the hell of it.  We actually had to buy a dozen eggs at the store, which was kind of insulting.

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