Egg prices are out of control and it might seem like a great idea to get a handful of hens. That’s probably not going to work out the way you think it will and here is why:
I’m grateful for a lifestyle that keeps me busy and feeds my family (even if it’s just scrambled eggs at the moment) but it’s not a cakewalk. There is a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into raising chickens.
Please, for your sake and the chickens’ sake, DO NOT get chickens on an impulse or out of fear.
Do your research first and see what you’re getting yourself into.
If you never considered getting chickens before, you shouldn’t do it now. Instead, take that nervous energy and put it into growing a garden.
Killing plants is way less traumatic than murdering chickens.
That’s how long you have to wait for your first egg, and that’s if you’re lucky. I usually start my chicks in April and some of them don’t start laying until the next spring.
That’s at least 20 weeks of feeding, cleaning, and caring for animals that aren’t bringing you anything in return. Other than amusement but that’s not why most people want them.
Along with the cost of the chicks themselves, you need to set up a brooder with a heat light or a buy an expensive plate heater, buy a waterer that they’ll outgrow in two months but you can’t just use a big one from the start because then you don’t have enough room for the birds in the brooder…
Not to mention the cost of building a coop. Even if you’re just predator-proofing something you already have, you’re going to be putting money into something that’s not a guarantee.
In 20 weeks you can get a lot more food from a garden, probably for a lot less money than you’ll get out of raising a handful of hens.
AND they’re only cute and fluffy for like 3 days before hitting an awkward stage.
>1 Egg a Day
Depending on the type of chicken you get you can count on as few as 50 to as many as 300 eggs a year from young birds. I’m a heritage bird fan myself, I prefer long-lived, sturdy birds that fall into the dual-purpose category like Wyandottes and Buckeyes. Leghorns are a solid layer and a heritage breed.
Read more about Winter Hardy Heritage Breed Chickens
But if you want eggs fast and you’re ok with hens that burn themselves out in a few years grab some hybrid layers. They’ll give you eggs quicker than heritage breeds and lay more often.
It’s Not Consistent
Having chickens for eggs (or a garden for vegetables) isn’t like having the grocery store in your backyard. Actually, it’s like having a really shitty grocery store with a drunk guy in charge of inventory.
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Ok guys, I think I may have too many chickens. . This is two days of eggs. Minus the one that went in Alfie’s bowl. . They’re cleaner than I expected based on the amount of mud I slogged though to get the barn closed up. . There aren’t enough wood shavings in the world to keep things neat this time of year. . . . . . #rainboweggs #oliveeggs #greeneggs #chocolateeggs #eggenvy #freerangeeggs #gatheredfromthecoop #fresheggsdaily #fresheggs #freerangechickens #chickensofinstagram #egggoals #farmtotable #chickenlove #farmlife #smallfarm #backyardfarm #homestead #homesteading #homesteader #hobbyfarm #homesteadmom #familyhomestead #homegrownhappiness #homesteadersofinstagram
You don’t get 6 eggs and a small bunch of asparagus in a neat, easy-to-handle amount every day. No.
You get 45 pounds of rhubarb in a 1 month period and that’s it for the year.
There’s a reason homestead types (and your grandparents) were so into canning and preserving food. It’s feast or famine all the time.
Looking to dip your toes into food preservation? Maybe Small Batch Canning is right for you
I get 16-26+ eggs a day in the spring-summer, and some days in the winter I get that many in a week. Sometimes I go days without eggs if it’s really cold.
And I have a lot of chickens. Chickens that I have to feed and water and clean up after and chase out of the road even when they aren’t laying.
I feed my birds whole corn from a local farm and supplement with oyster shells, greens, whole wheat & oats, kitchen scraps, and they free range. Over the course of the year, I pretty much break even on buying feed and the eggs I sell.
Chickens are STUPID
You know that voice you have in the back of your head that tells you not to eat gas station sushi? Chickens don’t have that. They have the opposite of that.
Looking for some examples? I got you:
The Dark Side of Chicken Keeping – fun ways my chickens have tried to kill themselves and why I can’t have nice things
Fixing Flamingo after getting hit by a car AGAIN (some iffy photos)
Watch a chicken recover from almost losing her head (this one has really gross pictures)
Instead of raising your own chickens, this is a great time to get more acquainted with local food producers.
Farmers don’t stop growing food because of a global p andemic shutting down the economy. Support them.
Look into local CSAs or even people like me that have too many eggs. Local health food stores, bulletin boards in feed stores, and local Facebook groups can all turn up options for securing local eggs.
If you’re lucky you’ll find someone selling meat and vegetables too and you can skip the grocery store even more often.
If you’ve been looking into joining the homestead movement/ crazy people with chickens anyway then go for it. But don’t do it because eggs cost a lot.
You’re better off cutting your own bangs, they’ll grow back long before you get your first egg.
Still interested in keeping chickens? Check out my Livestock page for more information or start here:
Thursday 4th of March 2021
I had some friends who had a knee jerk reaction when the lock down started and bought a flock of chickens (as chicks). We had them over for dinner a few months ago and I asked how they were doing and the husband said, "Good thing we started getting eggs because I was a week away from butchering them!" I (having grown up with chickens and knowing it takes many months for them to start laying) laughed until I cried at the idea that you would butcher them preemptively, and not even GOOGLE how long it takes a hen to start laying. It was so ridiculous.
Friday 5th of March 2021
I'll be the first to admit I jump into things without thinking them through or planning, but not when it involves live animals! At least we have the internet to help us out these days (I'm also kind of interested in how they planned to butcher the chickens haha)
Tuesday 24th of March 2020
Thank you! I laughed so hard I choked! 45 pounds of rhubarb and better off cutting my own bangs. You nailed it. :)
Tuesday 24th of March 2020
Love it! Very informative. I was thinking about starting my own backyard chicken farm but I think I will leave it to the professionals, and just purchase some eggs from you instead. I would rather give my money to responsible local farmers like yourself than to large grocery corporations. Thanks for the read!