“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day,” said famous American clergyman and Christian radio broadcaster Samuel Parkes Cadman, “What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” Whether used to expand the size of your flock or for a regular supply of food, eggs are a miraculous thing. What other item can either turn into another laying hen (if fertilized), or become a protein-rich and versatile food source for humans? Raising chickens for eggs is a relatively inexpensive way to provide one’s family with a constant supply of wholesome, nutritious eggs. It can also be a good business. Organic, free-range chicken eggs are in high demand.
Make Sure It’s Legal and Build Your Coop
Before you order your first chicks, make sure that raising backyard chickens is legal where you live. Build a chicken coop such as those found at here on my site, prepare your chicken run, and gather all supplies. Make sure that your chickens have a safe, enclosed place to sleep at night and laying boxes for their eggs. Research the best type of chicken for your purpose and geographical area and do your homework on how to raise chickens. The Internet is a good source for information, as is your local library or bookstore. The better educated you are on the topic, the better your chicken raising experience will be.
Choose the Best Layers for You
There are hundreds of different chicken breeds in existence and one size certainly does not fit all when it comes to choosing the perfect breed for you. Some chickens are layers, some are broilers (meat chickens), and some are dual purpose. Even among layers, the variety is huge. Some breeds lay over 200 eggs annually, while others lay closer to 80.
Leghorn chickens are consistent laying birds that produce around 300 eggs annually. Rhode Island Reds, Red Stars, Light Sussex, Plymouth Rock, and Barred Rock chickens are also fantastic layers. Chickens that are great layers as well as great mother hens (“broody” hens) who will care for her chicks include the Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock, Cuckoo Maran, and the Light Sussex. If you do not have a rooster and only raise eggs for food, then a great layer who is not broody is a good choice. If you would like the possibility of baby chicks, a broody hen is a better option because she’ll readily sit on and care for her own eggs. 2-4 hens are a good amount to start out with if you want a steady supply of eggs for your family. Don’t buy too many birds in the beginning, as you can quickly become overwhelmed with the number of eggs they produce.
Caring For Your Layers
Chickens eat nearly constantly and enjoy a wide variety of foods. Chicken feed, vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds are all healthy choices. Feed your chickens daily or use a large, self-feeding container that holds several days’ worth of feed. They’ll also eat bugs and worms from your yard. On average, a laying hen will eat ¼ lb of feed each day. This amount is variable and will depend on your specific hen. Regardless, chickens like to eat!
Chickens also need access to clean water, and a large watering container is a good option. A modern watering container can store 3-5 gallons of water and regulates the water into a trough that is not too deep to risk drowning while also offering a steady supply of water. These are available online as well as farmer supply stores.
Provide your hens with a safe home, sunlight, fresh air, and lots of room to exercise. Clean their coop regularly to reduce the risk of illness or disease or use a chicken tractor to keep their living area fresh and your yard fertilized. Raising chickens for eggs is not hard to do and, with a little bit of self-education and experience, you’ll soon be enjoying an abundant supply of fresh eggs. Good luck!