Raising Egg Laying City Chickens
The Personality and Size of an Egg-Laying Hen
What difference does the size of a chicken make? Plenty if you are raising backyard hens for their eggs.Chickens come in two sizes: bantam (small) and standard (large). Chicken breeds can differ in more ways than in simply their size, proving that not all chickens are created equal. Some chickens lay green eggs, some lay brown eggs; some are friendly and some are moody. Some are guarded about things and some are calm and free spirited. Yep, even chickens have their hippie society!
The Size of an Egg-Laying Hen
Some are big burly birds like the Brahma and the Jersey Giant chicken which can weigh-in at around 10 pounds; holding there own when compared to even a table turkey. While these big chickens may be difficult to locate, rest assured they can definitely be found. And some chickens are small little birds that seem unlikely to lay an egg any bigger than a walnut. However, before you grab-up a heavy-weight Brahma or Jersey Giant foul, remember this: The bigger the chicken, the more it's going to eat. And chickens live to eat, rather than eat to live! When choosing chicken breeds for a backyard flock also remember: A smaller hen cost a lot less to feed. The difference in the size of the eggs is negligible when compared to the size difference of the actual chicken breeds discussed in this article and the feed they consume.
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A Broody Hen Does You No Good
The chart below can help you determine what size and type of egg-laying chickens you want to choose for your backyard flock. This group has a reputation as being reliable egg layers, they are all light-to-medium weight hens, they do well in most climates (some very well in even cold weather), they are moderately calm birds, and finally they are considered friendly quiet chickens (well, as quiet as chickens can be). The egg-laying urban chickens listed for you in the chart are not considered to be too "broody." A broody chicken does you no good because she is too busy sitting on her clutch of eggs in an attempt to hatch them, when she should be laying fresh eggs for you. In other words, a broody hen will stop laying new eggs while being broody...wouldn't you? She will sit on these eggs for a long time, and because an urban hen has no rooster to fertilize her eggs, she dutifully sits on them only to find she has been wasting her time.
Which Hens Lay the Most Eggs?
Using the easy to read chart provided below, compare the chicken breeds that might work best for your backyard egg-laying chickens.
BEST EGG-LAYING HENS FOR A BACKYARD FLOCK (chart)
HEN BODY WEIGHT (in Pounds)
Army green to blue
Good layer. Guarded
Army green to blue
Good layer. Guarded
Good layer. Guarded. Does fine in cold weather
Good layer of white eggs. Guarded
Black Sex Link
Great (hybrid) layer. Friendly personality
Great layer. Friendly personality. Does fine in cold weather
Great layer. Friendly personality
New Hamshire Red
Guarded but calm
Red Sex Link
Good (hybrid) layer. Friendly personality
Rhode Island Red
Great layer. Friendly, calm personality
Good layer. Does fine in cold weather
My Chickens: Their Moods and Egg Production
Currently I have a small two-breed backyard flock, which consists of three Ameraucana's—considered to be a good laying breed— and three Buff Orpington's—considered to be a great laying breed— which I haveraised from hatchlings. My little backyard flock have been named according to their groups of three; the 3 Buff's are the Dixie Chicks and the 3 Ameraucana's are the Rocker Chicks.
My Ameraucana chicken's lay beautifully pastel greenish blue eggs, while the Buffs lay big beautifully smooth brown eggs. Of my six chickens the smallest Buff (Dixie Chick Prudence), is the best layer in the flock. She is also the most friendly and active of my hens. Her eggs come out at least as often as the sun rises, and are big perfectly egg-shaped creations. So she falls right in line with the assumption that Buff Orpington's are great laying hens.
My biggest Ameraucana (Rocker Chick, Ellen), lays medium-small pastel bluish eggs, but is less likely to offer her goods on a daily basis, but is still, as expected of her breed, a good egg laying hen. Then there is my medium sized Ameraucana (Rocker Chick Stevie) who is a moody layer that responds emotionally to her day. If the gardener comes by she won't lay any eggs that day, but I might find an extra large egg in her nesting box the next day; and once in a while it's a double yoked offering. Stevie's production would seem to be unlike what is expected of most Ameraucana's, because her moody egg laying is not considered to be good laying.
The point is this, just because a chicken breed is categorized as a good or a great layer, it may not apply to all chickens within that breed. Some hens are more sensitive then others, and some chickens can tolerate almost anything and still remain as reliable daily egg layers. This goes to show you that not all chickenswithin their breed are created equal.
BASIC HEN ANATOMY
The More You Know About Hen Breeds, the Better
Now that you have a little understanding about hens and their emotions around egg production, you can make better decisions for your backyard egg-laying chickens. You will have to get to know your hens to determine the production of each individual bird. Keep this in mind as you study to the chart provided above. It has been developed as a guide to help you get a jump start on knowing which chickens do better in an urban flock and what you can most likely expect from their egg production. The best way to get to know your chickens is to buy them as chicks, raising them to be as tame and friendly as a chicken can possibly be. When your flock knows you, they will be far more reliable layers.
All those extra eggs!!
- Recipes and Ideas for Using Up the Extra Eggs From Your Hens
Recipes and suggestions for using the extra eggs produced by a flock of laying hens. Cream puffs, tomato quiche, tomato pasta with egg, deviled eggs! Yummy!
When and Where to Get Chickens?
As fun and interesting as hatching your own chicks may sound, it is a very involved operation that requires a ton of your time, some know-how, and above all, dedication. If you choose to hatch your own birds, once they are born and the chicks are ready to start living life, you have the duty of sexing the birds; this is a difficult task for even seasoned chicken professionals. I recommend that you buy "sexed" chicks (female chicks that have been separated from the males) from your local feed store as opposed to "straight run" chicks (includes males and female chicks both, this group's gender has not yet been differentiated by professionals). You will pay as much as .50¢ more for a sexed chick, but if your goal is eggs, you want a high degree of certainty that your chick is female. Sexed chicks have a 96% breeder guarantee that you will get a girl chicken. As a general rule, roosters are not allowed in urban backyards, so if you happen to get one of the 4% sexed chicks that is a rooster, you will have to return it, sell it, give it away or...well, bon appétit!
Homemade and Home Grown
- Chickens, Best Backyard Egg Laying Hen BreedsGreat information for new backyard egg farmers. - 21 months ago
- The Benefits to Raising Your Own Backyard ChickensAn article discussing the top 10 reasons to why you should raise your own chickens. - 4 months ago
How Much Should I Pay for My Chicken Babies
Paying for Chix
Buy girl (sexed) chicks when they are 1 or 2 days old. When you get them at this young age, they will bond with you as if they had been hand hatched by you personally. Check around with your area feed stores to see which chicken breeds they have or will be getting in and on what day (make certain that you are picking from a sexed group of chicks). The chicks can run from approximately $2.50 to $4.50. Only buy the number of chicks you will need. Chicken farmers have long lived by the rule of buying 25% more chicks then they plan on keeping, because of a high rate of death among chicks; this is in reference to large flocks of chickens. The small urban backyard chicken farmer does not need to follow this rule. If you choose healthy sexed chicks and take good care of them— feed them good food, give them plenty of fresh water, change bedding frequently, and keep them warm— you should be able to prevent any death in your little flock. Purchase only the number of chickens you intend to keep and take really good care of them, and you will discover the joy of urban backyard chickens and their deliciously fresh eggs!
Cute chicks image compliments of gardenrant.com
Chickens chatter when they lay eggs. This video gives you an idea what to expect in terms of noise level. (This is only ONE chicken laying an egg)
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