Chickens are a great source of fresh eggs, entertainment, and learning experiences. They are also excellent all-around pets! If you’ve been interested in chickens for years or if you’re new to the idea, we compiled years of personal experience and insight into this comprehensive article on raising chickens for eggs.
Rules And Restrictions
Before we talk about how to raise chickens, we need to talk about the legality of keeping chickens in your area. If permitted in your community, backyard chickens can become a great hobby or a small income source. With an increased interest in urban farming, more cities are permitting our feathered friends in backyards. Today, major cities in some 40 states permit urban and suburban residents to own chickens.
New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Nashville are a few of the larger chicken-friendly cities. However, many communities in the United States and Canada still do not allow raising backyard chickens. Even in areas where chickens can be kept legally, there are often restrictions. These might include:
- Roosters are not allowed.
- Permits are required.
- The number of hens is restricted.
- Flock size might be based on the size of your property.
- Coops must be at least 25 feet from buildings and property lines.
- There must be at least 3 square feet of coop space per hen.
- You can look up details on laws and ordinances in your area in this post at BackyardChickens.com.
Chickens are restricted in some areas because of concerns about noise, diseases, odor, and predators. Residential communities governed by homeowners associations are more likely to restrict urban farming. Check your city’s ordinances online or call your city clerk. Never maintain a backyard chicken coop illegally. Respect your neighbors and all local laws.
Buying Your First Chickens
Even with a backyard flock, you still need to answer the age-old chicken or the egg question. You can start with fertilized eggs, chicks, or mature chickens. Each choice has advantages and disadvantages.
Hatching your own eggs is an amazing and educational experience, especially if you have kids. However, you’ll need specialized equipment to keep your newborn chicks safe and warm. Also, you may end up with roosters.
Pre-sexed chicks are available from M Kay Supply during the Spring. They are adorable and easier to care for than hatching eggs, but they need to be kept indoors for the first few weeks. Starting with chicks gives you a chance to bond with your hens and helps them feel at home on your property. Chicks will begin laying eggs after 20 weeks.
Juvenile Or Adult Hens
If you start with pullets or adult hens, you’ll be collecting eggs in no time, but you won’t have the same bond with your girls. Adult hens need to be kept in the new coop for a week until they get used to their new environment and lay eggs in the same place predictably. Then, they can be given free range. Older chickens cost more, but you won’t need to purchase specialized equipment for chicks.
Deciding How Many Chickens To Get
The size of your flock will depend on these factors.
- Local laws
- The company that is selling the chickens or eggs (M Kay Supply Farmers requires a 6 bird minimum order)
- The size of your backyard
- The size of your coop
- Your preferences
- How many eggs you need
Many mail order hatcheries have minimum order requirements so you might end up with a larger flock than you expected. M Kay Supply requires a minimum of 6 birds to order, but don’t worry, you can mix and match breeds to reach that total! If local ordinances say you can only own a few hens, you could split your order with friends. Minimum order requirements might be more flexible for eggs or adult hens.
Consider how many eggs you can realistically use. Pullets lay five or six eggs a week. Just five hens will give you two dozen eggs per week so you might need to share extra eggs with friends, family, and neighbors. Remember that egg production decreases with age.
Still want free range eggs, but don’t want the hassle? M Kay Supply sells eggs from Jackson Egg Co. a local free range chicken operation. Come into the store to learn more!
Union, P. F. (1970, January 01). How To Raise Chickens For Eggs – Tips To Get You Started. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from http://blog.parisfarmersunion.com/2015/06/