Break-even Analysis of Small Scale Production of Pastured Organic Poultry: A Spreadsheet Cost Calculator

eOrganic authors:

Kathleen Painter, University of Idaho

Elizabeth Myhre, Washington State University

Andy Bary, Washington State University

Craig Cogger, Washington State University

Whitney Jemmett, University of Idaho

This spreadsheet calculates break-even prices necessary to cover all costs of organic broiler production. It is based on several years of an organic vegetable system trial that relied on chicken tractors for manure. In the trials, both the standard, fast-maturing Cornish Cross strain and a slower maturing version better adapted to pastured production were produced. Using the spreadsheet and data from the trials, the break-even price for standard Cornish Cross broilers was $5.20 per lb, with an average carcass weight of 4.71 lb. The break-even price for the slower Cornish Cross strain broilers was $7.87 per lb, with an average carcass weight of 3.50 lb. While these cost estimates may seem high, they include all factors of production, including land and labor. Individuals can enter their own costs and determine the price they need to charge to cover their production costs.

While the Cornish Cross broilers are quite efficient at converting feed to meat and producing a carcass with a great deal of breast meat, they are not well suited to pastured production due to weak legs, poor foraging ability, weak hearts, and poor heat tolerance. Alternative meat breeds, however, typically lack the feed efficiency and fast-finishing qualities of the Cornish Cross. Of the alternatives that were tested in these trials, a slower maturing strain of Cornish Cross broilers was the most successful in terms of reducing mortality rates and producing pastured organic broilers fairly economically. The slow Cornish Cross strain took about 11 weeks to reach an average carcass weight of 3.5 lb, with an average mortality rate of 6.67%. The standard Cornish Cross strain took approximately 8 weeks to reach an average carcass weight of 4.71 lb, but the mortality rate was nearly double at 12%.

The Excel Worksheet for Breakeven Analysis of Small-Scale Production of Pastured Organic Poultry is available to download here:

The following Extension bulletin uses the spreadsheet cost calculator to determine average break-even prices needed to cover production costs using the data from five years of trials. It also describes how to produce organic broilers and how to build an inexpensive chicken tractor. It is a Pacific Northwest Extension Publication and is in the University of Idaho catalog:

Break-even Analysis of Small-Scale Production of Pastured Organic Poultry, PNW 665


Published June 2, 2015

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.