Chickens For Fun – Profit And Food

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Polish top hat

Polish top hat

Having a small flock of laying hens is a great way to save money, provide you and your family with all the ‘Fresh’ eggs you and your family can eat and provide your family with a steady supply of fresh healthy meat. As an added benefit your excess eggs can be sold helping off set your feeding cost.

Silky Bantam Hen

Silky Bantam Hen

How much do chickens [chicks] cost? Chicks can be purchased for as little as $1.50 each, slightly more when buying sexed birds. Ten to fifteen week old pullets and laying hens range from $3.00 to $10.00 each depending on the breed, age and availability in your local area.

How many hens do I need? On average you can except to get 1 egg per hen about every 27 hours. Each hen will lay 5 or 6 eggs a week. Two(2) hens will supply all the eggs an average size family can eat. In general each hen will lay from 250 to 300 eggs a year. A flock of 3 hens will produce 1 1/2 dozen eggs or more a week. So unless you plan on selling your excess fresh eggs think small flock of 2 or 3 hens. A rooster is not needed unless you plan to hatch some of your eggs. Be a good neighbor, don’t get a rooster that will wake the whole neighborhood when he starts crowing at 3 or 4 in the morning.

White Leghorn, egg laying machine

White Leghorn, egg laying machine

What breed is best for me? Chickens fall into 3 general classes. Bantams, layers and multi-purpose breeds. Generally speaking, Bantams are miniature copies of the standard breeds. They are small to very small in size, fair layers of ‘small’ eggs. Layers are light weight birds at laying age but produce the most eggs for the amount of feed you provide. Multi-purpose birds are the heaviest and also good egg layers making them a duel purpose bird. They provide a good supply of eggs and are good meat birds as well. McMurray Hatchery website contains a ton of useful information and pictures of many common and ornamental chicken, ducks, geese and turkey breeds that I am sure you will find useful.

Barred Rock multi-purpose breed

Barred Rock multi-purpose breed

What do I need to house my chickens? Number one consideration is safety. Almost everything likes to eat chicks, chickens and their eggs. Dogs, cats, rats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, hawks, owls and even snakes. With this said, you will need a chicken coop that is predator proof to lock your chickens in after they go to roost at night. DIY – Build Your New Chicken Coop

What do I feed my chickens? If your chickens are confined to a small coop it will be necessary to provide them with a balanced commercial chicken feed. This is the most expensive method of feeding you backyard flock. If you have a fenced yard they can be allowed to free range over your yard eating weeds, grass, seeds and insects of all kinds as well as ridding your yard of most insects. You will need to provide very little supplemental feed for a healthy happy flock.

Here is a little tid bit of information I didn’t know about free ranging chickens.

* A recent study conducted by Mother Earth News has found that eggs from pasture raised hens have higher values for a number of nutrients than USDA data for eggs from hens in confinement houses. Pastured eggs contain: 50% more vitamin E; 4 times the beta carotene; 35 times the omega-3 fatty acids; and half the cholesterol. And, they contain 10.5 mcg of folic acid (that is 10.5 mcg more than USDA’s data for eggs).

* A recent study funded by the USDA shows meat from chickens raised on pasture contained: 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, 28% fewer calories, 50% more vitamin A, and 100% more omega-3 fatty acids.

* A study conducted by James Madison University found bacterial contamination to be lower in pastured poultry: 133 colony-forming units per milliliter (cfu/ml) in pastured poultry compared to 3600 cfu/ml in conventional poultry.

* A Virginia Tech study found pastured poultry to be 70% lower in fat, and of the fats present, poly-unsaturated were much higher than mono-saturated.

* A study by Pennsylvania State University found 3 times the omega-3s, twice the vitamin E, and 40% more vitamin A in the eggs of chickens on pasture compared to conventional confinement laying hens.

Your backyard flock will provide you with eggs, meat and a lot of enjoyment. Providing you do not get any roosters, chickens are very quite, easy to raise and handle and will provide you and your family with many hours of enjoyment. {A rooster is not need for hens to lay eggs.}

Start planning NOW for you small backyard flock. Purchase your chicks now or wait a while and buy pullets or laying hens this fall when other growers start reducing their flock size for winter months.

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6 responses to “Chickens For Fun – Profit And Food

  1. Is it possible to buy Pullets or chicks that haven’t had their beaks trimmed?


    • Re: thebestkatiejones
      Yes it is, no one that is an ethical hatchery or seller will debeak chicks. This is done then they are way over crowed and start pecking other chicks. If you don’t have a local seller selling non-debeaked chicks consider ordering a few day old chicks from a hatchery. As far as I am concerned, debeaking should be banned by law!
      Thanks for finding time to visit my Tiny blog ~Pobept


      • I feel the same way. I wondered because when I looked at the McMurray Hatchery website it says the pullets have been “Beak Trimmed, Fully Vaccinated, Floor Raised”. I’d love to have a couple of laying hens some day, but I would hate for them to be harmed like that. I do have a couple of friends who raise hens so I’ll ask them where they bought their chicks locally. Thanks for the blog, I really enjoy it!


        • Re: thebestkatiejones
          Murray McMurray Hatchery said “Thank you for your email. We do not automatically debeak the baby chicks. We only debeak at the customers request with a charge of .25 per bird.

          Thank you for your interest in MMH

          Hope this helps you out ~Pobept


  2. Our five Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red hens are three years old now and egg production has dropped off a bit. My son surprised me last week with 6 new chicks (2 each Rhode Island Red, Silver Laced Wyandotts, and Buff Orpingtons)! We enjoy sharing our overload with family, friends and neighbors. We feed them commercial food in winter, but for the three other seasons, they are allowed to free range a few hours a day in my yard. We have noticed a difference in flavor of the eggs when they free range. Yolks are dark yellow to orange and buttery. Yum!


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