basket or bowl of eggs

2015 Homestead Yields & Cost Analysis

Animals on the Farmstead



While I find it incredibly beneficial to keep homestead notes and maintain a homestead management binder, my favorite part of keeping records comes in the new year when I tally it all up and see just how much food we were able to grow for our family and how it compares financially to purchasing it.

Yes, I realize that we don’t do as well was we could. Sometimes I forget to mark a yield. Sometimes we lose our supplies and need to buy replacements. Sometimes somebody will spill a brand new gallon of iodine. Or break the mason jars… full of fresh milk. Or we don’t properly train our pigs to a hot wire so not only do they trash our electric netting, but they were such a nuisance constantly escaping that we butchered them early reducing our yields. Sometimes you can fence the sheep in time and time and time again and they’ll still break out of their fencing and make a beeline for your gardens and mow your crops to the ground.

You get the idea.

Animals on the Farmstead

Since we weren’t homesteading or farming for profit we don’t need to be as careful and we can chip our labor in for free. The whole time is money thing doesn’t apply to us. You can’t put a price tag on the quality of life homesteading offers.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]You can’t put a price tag on the quality of life homesteading offers.[/pullquote]

All that said, I’m overall fairly happy with how we did this year. The bottom line is that we were able to grow and raise nearly 10,000 pounds of food at an average of cost of $2.50 per pound!

That is about 150 more pounds of food than last year.  Which I find to be very, very interesting. If you look over the cost analysis from our previous 2 1/2 acre homestead, no matter how the Lord blessed us (or didn’t), we always came out about the same. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 pounds. The year we moved here it was mid-summer and the totals jumped to about double, and now the last 2 full years here, once again, we didn’t see large fluctuations in our production and are hovering around the 9,800-pound mark. God always so mercifully provides.

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But I expect we will  produce much, much less for ourselves next year.

Why? Because most of that was in the form of liquid, creamy goodness otherwise known as raw milk. Even with raising 3 milk-fed heifers on their mamas, we still had over 7,000 pounds of milk. Which is ridiculous even for a family of 10. The decision is emotional and painful, but sensible, and we’ve decided that it’s time to let go of the remnants of our discontinued herd share and, once they’re bred, will be sending Stella and Candy to their next family. Dang it, I hate having to concede to reason, but my more realistic half has been long suffering and allowed me to essentially keep not one, but two dairy cows for pets this year. And he was the one who did most of the milking.

(And if any of you happen to be in the market for a bred, lactating Jersey cow let me know! I love when I’m able to help you realize your homestead dreams in a tangible way, have the pleasure of meeting reader friends, and find my girls a good home.)

That means that I expect our overall homestead production will plummet in 2016, but so will our expenses.

Now, just exactly how did we do in 2015?

Day in the Life of a Homesteader-46

Curious about previous year’s yields? See here:
2010 Homestead Yields 
2011 Homestead Yields & Cost Analysis
2012 Homestead Yields & Cost Analysis
2013 Homestead Yields & Cost Analysis
(2014 was not published.)

{2015 Homestead Cost Analysis}

Beef

Expenses: $840.00 Yield: 415 pounds Price per Pound: $2.06

Milk

Expenses: $2807.67 Yield: 915 gallons Price per Gallon: $3.06

Pork

Expenses: $630.47 Yield: 300 pounds Price per pound: $2.10

Eggs

Expenses: $561.65 Yield: 153 dozen Price per dozen: $3.67

Broilers

Expenses: $899.10 Yield 400 pounds Price per pound: $2.25

Garden & Orchard

Expenses: $2599.59 Yield: 1397 pounds Price per pound: $1.86

grapes

{Difference From 2014}

Beef: n/a
Dairy: Decreased by $.71/lb.
Pork: Increased by $.54/lb.
Layers: Decreased by $.04/dozen
Broilers: Decreased by $.45/lb.
Garden: Increased by $0.44/lb.

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{2015 Homestead Expense Breakdown}

Beef Cow

Feed– $840.00 (Estimated based on an average of 1 bale per day at $4 per bale feeding for 5 months during his second winter & 2 months during his third winter. He was born in early March so his first winter he was on milk.)
Equipment– $15.00 (Kant Suck & castrating supplies)
Butchering: $0.00 (This isn’t entirely accurate. Since we butchered over the new year and the beef is aging, we haven’t bought packaging supplies yet.)

Dairy Cattle

(This included our 3 cows, boarding expenses for 2 other cows and a bull for the first few months, a 2-year-old steer, and 4 heifers of various ages and not all here at the same time.)
Feed: $1835.04 (Hay, grain, minerals, and straw bedding is included in this total because we source it from the same farmer. I’m just thankful that I was given the totals and will have to be content not having that broken down.)
Milking Supplies- $230.92  (iodine, filters, bleach for washing the milker, etc..)
Equipment– $126.36 (fencing, halters, etc..)
Medical & Breeding– $615.35 (Vet bills, multiple AI visits, A2 testing)

Hogs

Feeder Pigs (2)-$100.00
Feed (2100 lbs. non-GMO)-$530.47
Butchering-$0.00 (We had leftover supplies from last year.)

Layers

Chicks– $42.21
Feed– $498.40 (1600 lbs. non-GMO feed for about 35 birds over about 6 months)
Bedding– $11.72 (Their coop flooded in the early winter of last year and they roosted in the barn all year)

Broilers

Chicks (100 Rainbow Rangers)- $156.00
Feed (1600 lbs. non-GMO)- $487.89
Equipment– $151.36 (We built a new tractor this year in addition to needing new brooding lamps and a 5-gallon waterer.)
Butchering Supplies– $103.85 (We built a homemade tub scalder in addition to needing disposable supplies like shrink bags for packaging etc.)

Garden

Seeds & Seed Starting– $590.76 (Including sweet potato slips, seed potatoes, and spring & fall garden seeds, and cover crops. This seems crazy high to me.)
Plants: $528.08 (Orchard expansion- 6 apple trees, 1 peach, 2 plums, 2 pears, honeyberries, and raspberries)
Soil Amendment– $378.12 (Including 3 soil tests, natural amendments, hay mulch, and fish emulsion)
Equipment-$1102.63 (Including a broadfork, materials to cover the greenhouse, and row cover)

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Armed with this information, I’m able to see our strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for the new year:

• Decrease excess milk production and expenses by selling 2 cows.

• Increase beef production by purchasing a beef breed that will more efficiently convert grass into flesh.

• Since we’ll be down to just 2-3 cows, we’ll need to work hard to force them to keep up with the grass (so we don’t have to) especially in early summer. If not, we need to figure out how to harvest it instead of wastefully brush hogging it before the weeds go to seed.

• Build a chicken coop with an expansive run and discontinue our free-range laying flock as their foraging in the gardens really took its toll on our vegetable yields, particularly on the tomatoes and cabbage. Not to mention I need flowers in my life and they see that freshly dug up bed and scratch right through it and demolish the new and tender transplant in days.

• Diligently train the next set of pigs to the hot wire during their first few weeks here.

• Better utilize the greenhouse space to justify the expense of the materials to cover it.

• Figure out how on earth we can be feeding our laying flock only during the winter months and still have such consistently abysmal prices per pound. Then fix it.

• Plan a permaculture style perennial chicken garden full of shrubs and plants that bear fruit the chickens can forage from.

• Have the children diligently gather eggs so that our totals reflect a more accurate amount… and beat Egg Suck Dog to them.

• Clearly & brightly stake the new perennial, berries, and fruit trees so that they aren’t mown over.

I love having all of this information at my fingertips for analysis. Keeping records is incredibly beneficial for making plans and setting goals in the new year. It helps reduce costs and increase productivity which is important since most of us aren’t doing this for a hobby but to help feed our families the best diets we can on a budget.

If you don’t know where to start with homestead management planning, see what my homestead management binder looks like, learn how to use a homestead binder, and get my set of over 100 printable worksheets.

Ever wondered how much does it cost to grow your own food? Here is one homestead's breakdown of expenses, yields, and cost per pound.

Quinn

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20 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It helps to work a lot of things out in my brain as we start growing in this direction!

  2. I would love to hear your ideas for your permaculture chicken garden! We're planning to get our first chickens this spring and as we put in our structure I'd like to have long-term plans in mind.

    1. I’m so sorry Becca, I have a friend who read this and wasted no time snatching up Candy for herself 🙂

      I will throw out a little info about Stella in case you decide you might be interested in her (or for anyone else reading who is looking for a family cow)- Stella is 3 years old, a smaller unregistered Jersey, and about 7 months into her current lactation. Stella is exceptionally well-halter broken and walks better than a dog. She’s the most gentle, affectionate, and patient cow we’ve had. Her teats are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. They’re neither too skinny or fat, all of a uniform length, and are perfectly attached. If you’ve ever hand milked a cow with short, crooked, and fat teats you’ll realize what a blessing hers are for a hand milked family cow! We do have a bull in with her now (we are awful at knowing when to call the AI the apparently- last year Stella was the only one we caught, this year Holly was). We have to wait for our friends to be done with their bull before we can borrow him in the winter so that’s why the late breeding. To be honest, though Candy is gorgeous, Stella’s my favorite. Parting with her is going to be very difficult, it was such a tough decision, but I think Holly is too old to find a good home and I won’t do wrong by her when she pulled through for us in our time of need so at this point I refuse to part with her for any reason other than death. Hope that helps!

      1. Oh man. I figured. She’s beautiful! I have no clue what breed she is (I’m sure you mentioned it at some point in your blogging career), but normandy comes to mind. We have a jerseyxnormandy bull calf and I’d love to get my hands on a heifer with some normandy in her. And for that, the drive would be worth it.
        If I was closer, Stella would be in the works for us! It’s tough to find a good family dairy cow, but Jerseys are everywhere down here in Texas. We have one that seems to be just like Stella. I’m sure she’ll get to a great home! Post on the KFC facebook page and proboards for sure!

  3. Quinn, I love this post! I only keep tally on my gardening efforts in the spring/winter, not the fall/winter since it’s so much more relaxed for me and we usually just pick right before dinner. I really need to keep tally of our layers but honestly, I don’t want to know. All your averages are way below our grocery market price, even your eggs.

  4. I love reading these year end tallys. We don’t have any animals but we do have a garden and an orchard plus a few nut trees. My husband bales hay and straw, too. I should at least keep record of our garden expenses and yields.
    We attempted to store apples in the basement but our boys placed a little too close to the furnace and they already rotted: (
    I just realized we have hazelnut trees and can’t wait for next harvest to learn how to harvest them.

    1. We had hazelnuts at our last place and I keep meaning to plant ones here. They bear more quickly than a tree and seemed to me to be pretty care-free!

      So sorry about your apples! That’s a tough lesson & loss. We harvested like 300+ pounds of potatoes we barely put a dent in and they’re all sprouting 🙁 Adjustments Bill made to the fireplace (in the basement where the root cellar is) has it way too warm down there.

      You should totally keep records for your garden. You can see the variations in provision from year to year and it’s a source of praise and thanksgiving every year 🙂

  5. We also are a family of 10 trying to raise some of our own food in South Texas. I am finding, since we don’t “sell for profit”, it is extremely expensive raising animals. We have dairy goats (I would love to purchase one of your dairy cows, but at this point my hubby my think I’ve lost my mind, but out of curiosity how much are you asking? 🙂 ), chickens, and rabbits. Are you able to offset any of your expenses? We do have 12 acres and are in the process of working on fencing in order to utilize more grass and less feed. However, at this point, I can’t find much information on raising dairy goats strictly on grass. Just wondering if you had any tips on the cost factor. I would prefer to raise as much food as possible and visit the grocery store MUCH less.
    Kristi
    Kristi

    1. Hi Kristi! I know this comment was no where directed towards me lol but I do raise dairy goats. No one (to my knowledge) is able to raise dairy goats on grass because goats do not graze, they browse. They eat weeds, shrubs, leaves…but usually not grass. We feed our goats a ration of grain, alfalfa pellets, sweet feed and sunflower seed. Plus they get grass hay and access to browse. Hopefully that helped a little 🙂

      1. Thanks, Debra. You’re absolutely correct, I forgetfully use “grass”, but know it’s the weeds and scrub brush they’re attracted to in our area. There is a young lady who is local trying to raise “grass-fed” dairy goats, but I’m not sure what she has seeded her fields with that would tempt the goats to eat. I do know she supplements with alfalfa pellets and beet pulp. The feed just gets expensive. Thanks again for responding.

      2. Thanks for sharing your wisdom Debra! I’ve nothing to add because all I know of goats is that my neighbor’s goats favorite pastime is getting their heads stuck in the fencing 😉 Seriously, this is educational to me and explains why his pasture with goats & horses looks so very much different than ours with cows. Blessings!

    2. Hi Kristi, I’m in South Texas, too…along the Gulf Coast. I have a friend who raises dairy goats and uses the milk to make soaps and then sells those to help offset the cost of the goats. Texas apparently has pretty strict laws about selling goat milk.

      1. Thanks, Angie. That’s a great idea. We’re down around the Brownsville area…. Thanks for sharing your idea.

    3. Hi Kristi. We raise dairy goats and dairy cows. No grain for anyone except chickens here. We supplement with alfalfa pellets and black oil sunflower seeds when milking sometimes. Our plan is to get everyone completely off supplementation and focus on creating good pasture.
      Goats eat grass and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. BUT, they thrive on forage. Trees, brush, etc… If you can find good barn kept grass hay and feed it year round, a good chelated loose mineral, and rotate paddocks/pastures, your grass-fed goats will be fine. I like to push there production and eyeball their condition and supplement accordingly. Some may surprise you. The big deal is improving their pasture whether it be grass or trees. I know people who plant certain herbs and vines strictly for their goats.
      FYI, I’m in east texas and we’re in the process of getting our raw license.

      1. Becca, my husband and I are from East Texas. Thanks for sharing. We are working on pastures now. We’ve only been on the property a little over a year and much has taken place….new house, goats, chickens, rabbits, plus when we moved we had recently added 5 kids to our 3. So, it’s been quite a slow process. We have quite a bit of wild grasses, weeds, etc. in our field and contemplated NOT doing anything but putting up cross fencing. Do you have any suggestions of what “grass” is better suited for dairy goats? We have Nubians. In regards to alfalfa, I’ve used the chaffaye, but not the pellets. Maybe I bought the wrong pellets, but they were really large and the goats didn’t seem to like them very much. Again, I am VERY new to all of this and love any advice from those who have more experience than I. Thanks again.

        1. Chaffaye doesn’t have high protein out of the bag. But when you dry it out it jumps to like 20%. So be sure of why you’re feeding it. I like it for the probiotics.
          I have to be very specific on the alfalfa pellets I buy. Our brown swiss chokes on anything larger than the smallest made. Works out great because it’s perfect for my goats. The alfalfa pellets from tractor supply are way too big. Shop around. We have a farmers co-op that we purchase from. Ask to see the pellets before you buy.
          Honestly, grass for goats… coastal/bermuda is my pick. Ours love bahia and they are gobbling up the rye we just planted, but we only have pine that is green so they really don’t have a choice. And improving pasture for goats would be basically removing toxic greens and weeds. We had a big issue with milkweed at our last property. The older does stayed away, but our bottle fed doelings had issues. They never got taught by momma to not eat it. Make sure that your trees aren’t shading your pastures too much and keeping grass from growing. You don’t want them eating too close to the ground. Rotate pasture every 21 days (i think). We are very big in offering grass hay year round also.
          I hear ya on the busyness. We have 4 littles and the man of the house works 40+ hrs/week away from the farm. I will be praying for you sister!

          1. Thank you so much. Prayers are MOST appreciated. I really appreciate your thoughts. I will definitely keep that in mind as we proceed forward. I will also look around for the alfalfa pellets.