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Raising Chickens for Egg Production

If you are not concerned with putting meat in your freezer, or live in an area where butchering chickens would be frowned upon, you can still enjoy the many benefits of owning chickens. If you never intend to breed chickens to get replacements for older birds or to butcher, you won’t even need a rooster Although half the fun of owning chickens is the delightful rooster’s crow and antics, some cities and neighborhoods prohibit the keeping of roosters due to the noise.

Roosters crow—that’s what they do. They are the alarm system for the flock, a sort of “early warning system” of any danger, and when he crows, the hens come running. Roosters do not just crow at daylight, they crow anytime they see something out of the ordinary. This can be a low-flying, dangerous hawk, or a butterfly. A rooster may even crow in the middle of the night if a passing car light disturbs them. For those that love the sound of a rooster’s crow, it’s a joy to be around. For others, maybe not so much.

It isn’t necessary to have the male of the species around just to enjoy egg production, however. Hens will lay eggs faithfully, whether there is a man about, or not. The eggs just won’t be fertilized. They taste the same, and have the same nutritional quality of fertilized eggs.

Egg laying breeds are a special variety all their own. They are egg-laying machines that produce larger quantities of eggs than the average farm chicken, and have virtually no meat qualities whatsoever. Pick up an egg-layer and you will feel bones and feathers. All of their efforts go into producing eggs.

The most popular breeds of egg-layers are the Leghorn, Andalusian and Anacona. They are all very docile birds, with attractive feathering. The Andalusian is well-known for its extra high-egg production and docile temperament, while the Leghorn has very high egg production as well, but tends to be a little more skittish. The Andalusian has a more average production level and is flightier, but still very friendly.

For real high-volume egg production, many hatcheries have hybrids or crosses that are bred for superior egg-laying abilities, and they will beat out even the high producing Leghorns and Anaconas for number of eggs in a given period. Many of the commercial egg-layers will even occasionally lay two eggs in a single day.

Egg Color

There is a lot of debate over what color eggs are better. Some people firmly believe that brown eggs have a higher nutritional value, and many organic growers choose brown egg laying breeds for their commercial egg sales. That isn’t because they are actually better, but because public perception is that they are. There is actually no difference between chicken eggs of one color, and eggs of another.

If you want a little variety in your eggs, you can choose some of the dual purpose breeds that not only will give you a little meat if you choose, but also lay colorful eggs that are not the standard white or brown. A few of these breeds are the Araucana (blue/green eggs), the Easter Eggers (blue/green eggs) or the Legbar (blue/green eggs).

Reproduction and Purchase

It is important to note that all of the egg-laying breeds have one thing in common: they are not broody. No matter what the breed’s disposition, calm and easy-going, or flighty and skittish, none will bother setting on eggs. An egg-layers sole purpose in life is to lay eggs. Once she is done doing that, she’s off to the yard to see what there is to eat. She couldn’t care less about the eggs.

In order to replenish your supply, you will have to rely on your local hatchery to sell you new chicks to raise, or learn how to incubate the eggs your hens lay (that will require a rooster, however, so that the eggs are fertile to begin with). Or you can select one of the popular dual purpose breeds that will set their own eggs, and raise the chicks to be a happy part of your flock.

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  1. living here in tx i prefer the game chickens as they are not only excellent layers but determined brooders its nothing for me to 5 r 10 hens all trying to set at the same time somtimes 2 on the same clutch of eggs they must be seperated as they will fight each other they are a much hardier breed as ive personally seen the roosters turn and attack a small hawk and some dogs of course in some instances they are over matched they dont just lay down n die either their not the best egg producers nor r they the best for meat but they sure keep the insect and small rodent population at bay if allowed to run loose they will roost in the tallest tree around i usually gather the chicks up when quail size of course you have to keep the roosters seperated i usually keep 1 to 5 roosters usually on tie chords while my hens run the whole yard until they find the garden

  2. I currently own 2 hens for eggs. One ISA and a Plymouth Rock. The rarely miss a day so we usually have an abundance of eggs. It is nice to know that if there is another spell like recent when there was a salmonella outbreak we will not have to worry. They don’t take much maintenance and or cost that much to maintain.

  3. They also make excellent fertilizer for our garden.

  4. GreenGoddess2009

    My husband talked me into getting chickens two years ago.. We started off with just 5 production red chicks.. I have since then added barred rocks, golden comets, a new hampshire, delaware, and two easter eggers that give me both teal eggs and olive green eggs.. I always have an abundance of eggs and whatever I don’t put in the fridge go to my neighbors, get sold for hatching or I hatch them myself and sell the chicks! I am in the process of hatching out lavender orpingtons to breed.. I don’t expect to make it rich but they do sustain themselves and put a few dollars in my procket… I am always building a bigger and better coop/run for them and loving every minute of it!

  5. What do they eat? Can they eat wild bird food?
    What about vaccinations?
    I know that pigs sometimes will pic up diseases from the ground; will chickens?
    What about cold weather?

    • GreenGoddess2009

      What do they eat? Can they eat wild bird food?

      They can eat wild bird food in small quantities, as treats.. Chick starter or start n grow is used in chicks until they begin to lay (anywhere between 16 weeks and 6 months depending on breed).. Once they start laying, they can be fed Layer pellets or layer crumbles.. They can also eat most kitchen scraps… The biggest things to remember are that they need protein for egg production and muscle growth as well as calcium (already in layer feed or crushed oyster shell can be supplemented) for strong egg shells…

      What about vaccinations?

      Some people choose to vaccinate while others don’t… I do not…

      I know that pigs sometimes will pic up diseases from the ground; will chickens?

      Yes.. Chickens can pick up many diseases from the ground as well as other chickens and even wild birds… Some you can vaccinate against if you choose to, others you just take your chances… I’ve had mine for two years now and again, i do not vaccinate… I’ve never had a problem… I do however keep a very tight flock.. I only get chicks from hatcheries or flocks that I know are clean and I hatch my own eggs.. i do not buy older birds since they have more of a chance to be carriers for many diseases but may never show symptoms….

      What about cold weather?

      As long as they have a dry and draft free place to roost (my first coop was an old freecycle plastic shed), most chickens do fine in the cold weather… The only time you may have a problem is with bantam (bred to be small chickens) or some ornamental chickens because of their lack of feathering… If you decide to get a few chickens, pick those that are “cold hardy”… People keep chickens all over the world.. Anywhere from Alaska and Canada to the most tropical regions…

    • I wish that the wild hogs here in Texas would get a disease from the ground and all of them die. They have reaked havoc on the southern states and my pasture has cost a small fortune to redo and still is not finished yet. They come out at night and completely destroy pastures. So if anyone has any ideas about giving these hogs some disease, let me know, but nothing that would affect my deer.

  6. I solved the rooster problem by getting a little silky rooster for my hens. He is getting old now, but has trained two sets of chickens. The crowing is not that loud and the hens love having a man around. They seem to baby him.
    I found the Golden Comet to be the best layer and the eggs are really big. They lay all winter and are easygoing and mild tempered.

  7. I am starting an organic garden in Atlanta-(Tucker}, Georgia. The community is welcome to participate. We will have just a garden at first and later on some chickens.

    • I was out with the horse until dark one night, my car was covered in tukyers who settled on the the car, all of the car, even the sides, for the night. It took a long time to move hem off the car and they kept coming back.It was a car covered in tukyers. What a sight.The foals did not want me to leave and several grabbed my clothes with their mouths and dragged me to the place they sleep. It was hard to get away from the. I guess the foals wanted me to sleep with them on the ground that night. A compliment I know, but not going to work.I love the surprises of animals. I love finding double yokes and the small surprises that make like a treasure.

  8. I have Buff Orpingons which are very good layers and also good for their meat and very friendly. The same with Black Australorps, great layers, friendly and good meat producers.

  9. Correction: Buff Orpingtons.

  10. Moved out to the country 8 years ago. First thing we did was purchased a 8 by 6 Salt Box and turned it into a Chicken Coop. We have been enjoying fresh eggs ever since.

    All it takes is one interruption in the food chain and many will find out what it is like to go without food. Home grown Chickens are easy to raise and produce better tasting eggs than store bought.

    All one has to due is make sure they have water and chicken feed.

  11. How about plucking? When I had chickens that was the worst part of preparing dinner! Any great ideas?

    • Colleen… have you heard of a Whiz Bang chicken plucker? It’s a tub hooked to a motor, and over a hundred rubber fingers inside. You put your chicken in there, turn it on, and it plucks the whole thing in less than a minute. You can do 3 or 4 at a time. Here’s a youtube video of one…

      You can buy the whole thing, or if you have someone that’s “handy”, you can buy the parts and make one yourself. Once the hubby is finished with the chicken coop and we start raising chickens, that’s my next purchase…

  12. but if you happen to get a commerical brown egg layer they can be used as a stewing bird when there laying days are over just a thought cause the brown eggers go between 4 and 6 pounds

  13. We have 8 Aracounas, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 2 guineas. We raised them from day old chicks and they started layng last June and laid huge eggs all winter and are still going strong. I would like to get a rooster to fertilize the eggs so we can start raising some for meat also. one of the guineas is laying tiny little eggs but not the other. They are so cute! Does anyone know if guinea eggs taste like chicken eggs, or is there a different flavor? My husband refuses to eat the guinea eggs at this time because he doesn’t think they will taste like chicken eggs.

  14. There are errors in this article that make it difficult to figure out what breed has which characteristics! Someone didn’t proofread! 🙁

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