Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by TNZ71, Apr 17, 2008.
HOW MANY HENS NEEDED TO SUPPLY SMALL FAMILY WITH FRESH EGGS?
one per person
Would depend some on what kind of chickens, time of year, diet/liveing situation of chickens and how many eggs you use.
Some breeds lay more often then others but at BEST you will get one egg per chicken per day (rare and in best case only), usualy average is 2 egges every 3 days as an optimal. If they get lots of protien and fat and plenty of sun light then durring the summer you could figure on 2 eggs every 3 days from most layers. In the wintr most all hens slow down laying regardless but you can keep them laying better if you have a light in the hen house, without one production tends to drop by at LEAST 50% and may stop for a while.
If your family dosent eat eggs much other than just useing them for cooking then you would need a lot fewer than if you each have 2-3 eggs with breakfast most mornings.
In general I would go with either Buff Orphingtons or Rhode Island Reds for layers (hardy birds that survive well and pretty reliable and decent layers) and if say you use half a dozen eggs per day on average I would go with at least a dozen hens and probably 18-24 since you can always find someone willing to buy extra fresh eggs and help cover feed for them. 10 would most likely cover needs if you average a half dozen eggs per day especialy in the summer and if they get to run around the yard to eat bugs and grass but in the winter it wouldnt likely cover it.
In short, to be sure you have eggs year round to cover all your needs I would say 3-4 chickens per egg per day. With that it should keep you from buying eggs evenin the winter so long as they eat decent (they make great garbage disposals) and will need a bit higher protine than corn alone will provide. Then you MAY have extras in winter and WILL have extras (if they are healthy) for most of the year that can be sold or traded off and help make your eggs (chickens laying yours) free.
I secound Buff Orphingtons!!!! They are the only ones that we will own. They are the most reliable layers in the winter and are the only chickens that we have found that will reproduce on their own without an incubator. We have four setting right now and have already got 4 chicks this spring with more on the way I'm sure.
I'll second what Monkey Man says with the addition that year old hens will lay an egg a day in summer so if you get a dozen - be prepared for a dozen eggs a day (thats A LOT for one family to use!). In winter that may drop to one egg every 3 days. Egg production declines with the age of the hens and other factors too.
Yup, thats why I say it depends on use. If its a family of 3 and every morning each person has 3 eggs then you cook a lot of recipees that require eggs (bakeing cookies, egg wash for frying stuff and so on) then a dozen a day would be a minimum. OTOH if you rarely eat eggs by them selves and just need a few here and there to add to a recipee then a dozen a wek may well work for the same size family. I know at least around here though its pretty well imposible to have to many eggs since there is always folks wanting to buy fresh eggs so you can sell a couple days production to pay for a weks feed a lot of the time, hold back what you need your self and still be turning folks away that want to buy eggs even at store prices.
We ordered a half dozen pullets for our family of 3. Been years since I kept poultry but with food going up and up, and teh added security of having your own stock it is time to get more. I planned to order a dozen but the farm supply said that they had maxed out teh hatchery. Any more birds ordered won't be hatched in time to ship before teh weather turns too hot for them to survive transport. When I kept poultry before I found that selling eggs paid for the feed (break even) so my eggs for home use and any extra cockerels butchered were free.
I think it is pretty telling that the hatchery is backlogged. It gives me hope that our society may yet be able to feed themselves when the lights go out long term.
All good info, TNZ. Once you taste the difference between real eggs and the crap they sell at supermarkets, you'll never go back, and there is a huge difference in nutritional value.
I'd say, given where you live, the Buff Orpingtons or Cochins would be a fantastic choice, very cold hardy, and they will reproduce themselves for you (R.I. Reds will not).
When I first started having chickens, I bought ten second-year layers - five Black Australorps and five Rhode Island Reds. That winter, the Australorps laid even while molting. Until their fifth year, I had at least 85-90% lay rate at all times. The key to that is 1) providing 10 hours of 'daylight' (a lightbulb in the coop turned on shortly before dawn and then again after sunset for a bit to equal 10 hours of light) and 2) sufficient protein, acquired by mixing my own grains instead of relying on whatever they put in the mushed up layer rations plus their own finding of bugs, etc.
Is it work? Yep. Did it pay off? Hell yeah. I had three young children to feed and had more than enough eggs to use as well as plenty to sell!
Orps are great if you want broody hens to hatch out chicks. If you're looking for producers, however, I'd only have a couple Orps (who will 'steal' others eggs if need be for their nest) and the rest an older breed known for egg production. Stay away from White Leghorns unless you want psychotic, neurotic birds. The Brown Leghorn is better. Rhode Islands are pretty decent, Dominiques are awesome as are the Australorps. Personally, I don't care for the newer hybridized birds (sex-linked and various meat breeds usually fall under this) but there are some folks who think they're great.
We have never put a light in our chicken coup but always have plenty of eggs through out the year, and we eat alot of eggs. We have about 25 hens and get between 14-18 eggs a day on average.
My family & I do eat " A LOT OF EGGS" each and everyday... as they are so very healthy for you. So we needed a very productive chicken (self-sustaining breed of chicken) to keep us well fed!
BUFF ORPHINGTONS are definately THE BEST - out of all of the breeds we have personally tried. The BEST SURVIVALIST CHICKEN BREED out there for sure!!
Someone had mentioned "COCHINS".... well, we had some of those, and they were poor layers when compared to the BUFF'S, only laying one measly egg per week!?!?!! I wouldn't recommend them at all. ~ Just my 2 cents
I defer to Wildernessgal on the Cochins, I haven't personally had any. I'd go with what she says.
Here is a guide to all the different breeds.
I have heard that the hens will lay for about 2 years then its better to replace them. My question here is if this is a true statement or just hot air. Furthermore, how do you sex the chicks so you only have hens and seperate the roosters etc. I may have access to a 3 acre plot and wanted to grow chicken for eggs and meat and not sure what else some veggies and potatoes.
After about 2 years yes they do tend to start slowing down, but some will just keep on going as well. As far as sexing we wait untill they get bigger the ones that crow are roosters the ones that don't are hens.
We have had a few of them a couple of times and they just don't put out eggs to the level that we want. I know alot of people do like them though.
so after you determine the sexes you can then have the males for meat. Also if you had to mix the males to get chicks is their a period of time to do this. I am learning on the fly and trying to stay ahead of the game as i will be ordering within the next week from Mcmurrays and have this summer to read up....
The feathering is also different on females than males.
We run two or three roosters with our hens at all times. When the hens decide to sit then we let them, all the other eggs we eat. Just becuase the eggs are firtilized doesn't mean you can't eat them. I tell our DD that we are having a little chicken with our eggs. We put the roosters that we are going to butcher in a seperate pen to let them get to size. If you have too many roosters with the hens they will pester the hens so much that they will not lay. We had so many roosters at one time that the hens would just stay on the roost, and not come out of the coup to eat.
Lots to read and learn right here.... http://www.backyardchickens.com/
We had good luck with barred Rocks and Sex links
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