It's become popular to raise and keep a small flock of hens for eggs as a hobby for many families. It is a part of today's urge to go green and get back to basics.
Most hens can be expected to lay five eggs a week. This means that four to five good layers will mean a couple of dozen eggs a week. Different breeds have different qualities. The best layers won't usually sit on eggs (be broody), but some of the breeds that are just a little less productive will set the eggs for you if you plan to raise chicks.
If you only want to produce eggs to eat, you won't need to deal with a rooster, which is a big perk. Roosters can be mean, territorial, and cause problems with chicks introduced to the flock.
Choosing Your Chickens
The White Leghorn is the best laying breed. They begin laying at about five months of age and will continue to do so almost daily for 3 years or more.
Red and Black Stars are also excellent layers. Plus, they have the added attribute of being friendly and they make great pets. They lay large brown eggs almost every day.
Consider these things before choosing from the hundreds of chicken breeds available:
Make sure your choice of hen will do well in your climate. Be sure you have enough space - an adult chicken needs at least 4 square feet of space, minimum. This means sixteen feet of space per four hens. More is always better. They need exercise, close confinement increases stress in hens that can cause them to stop laying. A docile breed will be best if children will be involved.
Eggs and Small Business Ventures
Selling fresh eggs can be a great family passtime or even a small business.
If you have the room to free range the chickens, then the eggs will bring a much higher price. You can also go completely organic and they will bring even more.
Fertilized eggs for hatching can be sold as incubation projects for students or you can sell the chicks.
A rare or endangered species of hen can command an even higher price. Online sales of these eggs can be done all year.
Be sure to learn how to pack eggs for shipping. It's not as difficult as you might imagine. It just takes lots of bubble wrap around each individual egg plus a snug fit in a double box. Many eggs are shipped or received this way without a problem.
If you will be incubating or selling the eggs for incubation, they should not be washed. Just brush off any loose dirt. Washing the egg removes a protective layer on the outside of the shell.
Keeping chickens for eggs is fun and, with the right planning, can be quite profitable.
If you're a do it yourself kind of person, you can check out how to build a chicken coop.
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