The number of chickens you raise depends on a lot of factors. For instance, you can’t grow as many chickens as you want on minimal resources. The more the chickens, the more money you spend. However, you should note that chickens don’t do well when isolated, so you should raise at least two together.
This article will cover
- How Many Chickens Do I Need For Eggs?
- How Many Chickens Do I Need For Meat?
- 3 Other Factors That Determine The Number Of Chickens You Raise
- 4 Ways To Raise Healthy Chickens
How Many Chickens Do I Need For Eggs?
The number of chickens you raise for egg production depends on the number of eggs you want per day. Usually, healthy, egg-laying hens produce about 250 eggs per year, with a hen laying about 6 eggs per week. If you consume lots of eggs per week, then you need about four to six hens. As such, you’ll get 20 – 35 eggs per week.
If you intend to sell the eggs, then you need to raise a large number of chickens. If you have a large customer base, you can get about 100 hens to start with. With that, you’ll be collecting eggs in hundreds every week.
However, this will be on an industrial scale as it isn’t suitable for homesteading. Below are some of the things to consider when determining the number of chickens you want to raise for egg production.
The breed of the hen’s matter. Some breeds are prolific at laying eggs, such that you may not need to raise many of them before you get the number of eggs your family needs. For instance, Plymouth Rock Chickens, Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, etc., are known for laying healthy and big eggs. With 3 to 5 of these hens, your egg requirements would be met weekly.
Another critical thing to consider is the climate. Some breeds are hardy and do well in cold seasons. For instance, Wyandotte hens do well in cold temperatures, while Minorca hens do well in warmer regions. You must choose the breed suitable for your region so that you won’t have to replace chickens now and then.
Your resources, both in cash and kind, go a long way in determining the number of chickens you raise. For instance, if you don’t have much to spend on your chickens, it only follows that you raise the number you can adequately care for. Chickens require constant care.
You have to get the right feed and treats, give them drugs routinely, provide a conducive environment, etc., which can be financially strenuous if you aren’t ready for it. As such, you shouldn’t raise 10 chickens when it’s only 5 you can adequately care for.
How Many Chickens Do I Need For Meat?
If you want to eat about 2 chickens per week from your homestead, you need to raise about 20 to 35 chickens. Chickens usually take about 4 to 5 months to mature well enough for eating; however, broilers take 7 weeks. After this period, chickens become tough and won’t be as tasty as you want when used for meat.
If you’re raising chickens for meat, ensure you replace the chickens you take out with chicks. This ensures the cycle keeps moving. By the time you’re done eating the older ones, the chicks would have been mature enough for meat.
Therefore, it’s possible you have many chickens in the pen for a brief period in between each cycle. Below are some things to consider when raising chickens for meat.
Like there are egg-laying chicken breeds, there are also chicken breeds raised solely for meat. However, you can also choose to go for dual-purpose chickens. Dual-purpose chickens produce both eggs and meat.
Examples of meat chicken breeds include White Jersey Giant, Cornish Roaster, Jumbo Cornish Cross, etc., while dual-purpose chickens include Buff Orpington, Sussex, Wyandotte, Plymouth Rock, etc. If you’re raising meat chicken breeds, you can start butchering them once they’re 10 weeks old. This is because they eat a lot and grow very fast to have health problems like organ failure.
Meat chicken breeds eat a lot more than egg-laying hens. They can eat the food egg-laying hens will eat in a week in 2 days. Their feed and water should always be near them. However, this makes them heavier and tastier than meat. As such, you should consider the financial resources you have at hand before raising a large number of meat chicken breeds.
The more meat chicken breeds grow, the lazier they get. Due to their weight and the health problems they often have, such as leg failures, they can’t free-range or stand for long. You’ll mostly find them lying down in the shade. To this end, you need to provide adequate shade for them. You also have to keep their shelter clean from parasites because of their fragile health.
3 Other Factors That Determine The Number Of Chickens You Raise
To raise your chickens successfully, everything needs to be planned. If not, you’ll make lots of wrong moves with painful results. Besides the available resources and chicken breed, below are other factors determining the number of chickens you raise.
Homesteading requires some space on your property. Most times, the size of the space determines the number of chickens you can raise. For example, if your space isn’t big enough to contain 10 nesting boxes, then you can’t raise chickens in their hundreds.
Chickens don’t want to be isolated, but they love their space. Besides, if they’re egg-laying chickens, they will likely need space for foraging and playing with one another. You should factor all of these into your decisions before you buy the chicken breed.
In addition, ensure the space is made from predators. Either you raise two chickens or two hundred, predators won’t allow you to achieve your goal of raising chickens.
Every town has laws guiding homesteading. You should find out your town’s laws before you start raising chickens. These laws include the number of chickens you can homestead, if you need to obtain permits, if roosters should be included in the flock, etc.
As such, you have to adhere to the dictates of the law. If the law says you can’t homestead more than 10 chickens, that means you’re limited to raising 10 chickens either for eggs or meat. It’s advisable you find out what the law says before you gather your flock.
Another critical thing to consider is the amount of time you have to spare. Chickens require a lot of attention, and if you don’t have someone to deputize your duties to, you have to be at their beck and call. You can’t go missing-in-action when growing chickens.
If you don’t have much time to spare, raise a few chickens, at least not more than 10. More chickens will require more time, which you might not be able to spare. Only raise many chickens when you have the time to look after them or if there’s someone to help you with your duties.
4 Ways To Raise Healthy Chickens
Either you’re raising 10 chickens or 100; what matters is how you raise them. If you don’t know how to breed chickens properly, you’ll lose your chickens before you can even achieve the purpose of producing them. Here is a guide on how to raise healthy chickens.
The right breed
First, you need to know why you’re raising chickens. Are you raising them for meat, eggs, or sports? The purpose determines the chicken breed and how you’ll care for them. If you want to raise chickens for sports, you can go for species like Malay Roosters, which are naturally aggressive.
If you want meat, you can get the Cornish Cross, eggs, Golden Cornets, White Leghorns, etc. If you want both eggs and meat, dual-purpose chickens like Sussex are what you need.
The right home
Your chickens need a place to stay. Your job is to make this place homely so that they’ll feel safe and comfortable. Chickens leave wherever they aren’t comfortable. Besides, the right home will enhance your chickens’ happiness and health.
Either you’re building a coop or using nesting boxes, ensure it is adequately lighted and ventilated. It should be easier to clean and collect eggs from. Don’t forget to seal it off from predators. In the first place, your chickens’ home shouldn’t be in a dangerous location.
Chickens always require cleanliness. Your chickens should be dry and their homes clean and safe from parasites. Chickens’ health is fragile and sensitive. They’re quick to react to any strange thing in their environment. Sometimes, this leads to their death. Regularly disinfect all the tools you use for them and their home. Be on the lookout for health risks as well.
The quality of their nutrition determines if they live or die and if you’re able to achieve your goals of raising them. To stay on track and reduce expenses, you can consult a professional to create a long-term nutrition plan for your chickens. Nutrition also includes vaccinating them when necessary and giving them the required drugs routinely.
The number of chickens you need depends on your purposes for breeding chickens, the amount of meat/eggs you consume every week, the laws guiding homesteading in your town, the amount of time you have to spare, etc. However, you’re raising a few or many chickens; what matters is their health and happiness.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.