It’s tough to imagine a man worth more than $76 billion — the wealthiest man in the world — hunched over and chasing chickens around a coop.
But Bill Gates says that’s exactly what he’d do if he had to live on $2 a day, like the 1 billion people living in poverty around the world.
In his recent blog post, Gates asks, “If you were living on $2 a day, what would you do to improve your life?”
He’d raise chickens. Gates, who works with Heifer International to bring sustainable agriculture to poverty-stricken areas, says “just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens.”
While he’s referring to the developing world, plenty of Americans create egg-farming businesses, too.
Here’s why Gates says chickens are a smart investment:
The Birds are Inexpensive to Care For
They’ll peck up almost anything off the ground, though they grow bigger if you throw some seed down.
A simple coop of wood and wire will keep them where they belong. And chickens only require a few vaccines, including one for a respiratory virus that costs less than 20 cents.
If one of those eggs gets fertilized, you’ll have a hearty little chicken or rooster on the way.
A chicken in West Africa typically sells for about $5. In the United States, you can go to the feed store and pick out a backyard chicken for about $15. (Or if you’re into designer brands, you can rent two hens from Coop and Caboodle for $395 for six months.)
Eggs are Nutritious and Delicious — and Profitable
Although eggs are a protein-packed staple, many farmers in Africa prefer to let the eggs hatch and sell the birds. They use that money to buy other food.
In the States, however, we tend focus more on egg farming. A dozen eggs can yield $4-$5.
Take into account that hens can produce up to two eggs in 24 hours, and you’re looking at an egg-cellent side income.
Chickens Empower Women
In some parts of the world, chickens are regarded as a woman’s animal. And women who sell chickens are likely to reinvest that money into their families.
Now that Gates has us talking about chickens, he’s making it super easy to donate to a good cause without spending a cent.
Sign in at gatesnotes.com, read his post about raising chickens, watch a two-minute video and take a one-question quiz… and voilà! He will donate, on your behalf, a brood of chickens to a family in poverty. Pretty clucking awesome.
Your Turn: Would you ever consider raising chickens or egg farming?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer/blogger at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.