Chickens can be beneficial to have as livestock because they will produce eggs that are higher in nutrients and cheaper than buying at the store. When you first start out with chickens, it’s best if you don’t go for a dozen chickens all at once but instead figure out how many you need for your family size.
How many chickens you need to produce a dozen eggs per week can vary, but generally, you need 2 to 4 hens to achieve this regularly. Each hen will lay around 5 eggs a week when mature and healthy. Most people will be able to get at least a dozen eggs per week from 3 chickens for part of the year.
Raising chickens isn’t very complicated if you know when to expect egg decreases and what to look for with sickness and other issues. Overall, you will consistently have as many eggs as you need as long as you are giving the chickens what they need in return.
While a dozen eggs may sound like more than enough eggs for one or two people, you need to realistically figure out how many eggs you need for your family.
Your chickens will not lay an egg every single day, so you can’t count on 365 eggs from every chicken you have. Generally, if you look at ⅔ of your flock, that’s how many eggs you will get daily.
If you have 9 chickens, you will collect around 6 eggs daily, or 42 in a week. Too many chickens can undoubtedly create a problem with too many eggs, but you don’t want to run out of eggs regularly either.
The average 4-person family only needs 3-4 hens or 14-18 eggs a week, unless you bake and cook with them often, in which case you may want to get one more hen.
You have to consider all uses of eggs, not just eating them alone. It’s often forgotten that you need eggs for baked goods and multiple recipes.
For example, If you are making breakfast for a family, you are looking at an egg per person as well as the eggs needed for the pancake or waffle batter. Eggs are usually used quicker than people realize.
Having hens that lay eggs is not as simple as buying hens and waiting around for eggs. While most hens lay around 5 eggs per week, this does not include times such as:
- When hens are molting
- If they are unhealthy
- If they are not mature
- How cold/warm their habitat is
When a chicken molts, it is simply growing a new set of feathers to prepare for a new season, usually when times change from summer to winter.
Growing new feathers requires a substantial amount of protein and energy, so most hens will not have the protein and energy to molt and lay eggs.
You can increase the hen’s food with hopes to counteract the lack of energy to a degree, but they will decrease their egg-laying output.
Chickens are pretty self-sustainable to a degree. However, if they are not in clean environments with clean water and good food, they can quickly get pretty unhealthy.
When your chickens become sick, you need to remove them from the rest of the flock to hopefully prevent the spread of whatever they have, but the sick chicken will not lay eggs until they are better.
Chickens can’t lay eggs until they reach a certain age of maturity when their bodies are ready to do so; this usually happens around 18 months to 2 years of a chicken’s life. This information is good to know going into raising chickens as you can expect no eggs for the first 2 years.
In most temperate climates, chickens have no issues laying consistent eggs all year round. However, if the weather gets colder and your chickens have to use a large amount of energy to keep themselves warm, you will see a decrease in your eggs.
The best thing you can do to counteract the temperature changes is set up heat lamps in their environment and buy an insulated chicken coop for nighttime.
Keeping healthy hens that consistently lay eggs isn’t an arduous task. Still, there are a few things you need to ensure you do regularly to keep your hens as healthy as they can be.
A few things that can ensure your hens stay healthy and laying are:
- Quality feed
- Open area for roaming
- Keeping clean nests
- Freshwater daily
- Calcium supplementation
- Parasite inspections/prevention
- Regular inspections for cuts/injuries
Simply keeping watch over your chickens and ensuring they have good food and fresh water are really the biggest contributors to healthy egg-laying chickens.
Here’s a cool video showing how to automate some if these things the chickens need:
The great thing about chickens is they take little upkeep with a large reward. Most of the time, you would simply change the water, provide food, and let them out of their coop daily, and that is the extent of the most time-consuming part.
If you were to find a chicken with a parasite, injury, or sickness, remove it from the rest of the flock to allow time to heal and for a reduced chance of passing it to another chicken. You don’t want your entire flock to be infected with something because then you risk losing your entire egg production.
Raising chicks into egg-laying hens is fun, enjoyable, and productive. However, if you don’t know what you are doing or aren’t sure how many you need, you could be setting yourself up for more work than necessary.
The average family only needs around 2-4 chickens at a time to produce 14-18 eggs a week consistently. With this flock size, you’re looking at good egg output with minimal space and daily upkeep requirements.