Do you break-even raising chickens for eggs? What are the important things I need to know? My partner wants to also eat them for meat, but I know I will fall in love with them. Does anyone have any experience in this? I am thinking of getting 4 or 5 "Silkies" a small ornamental chicken (see photo below). Would 4 small chickens be too many eggs for 2 adults?
By Cyinda from the Seattle-Tacoma area
There is a wonderful website dedicated to chicken raising. The posters there are friendly and knowledgeable. The address is backyardchickens.com. Hope to see you there! (05/19/2010)
I raised chickens in Portland, after visiting my ex's family in Seattle area, and seeing their 3 hens. I got 3 one day old chicks (store said they liked company and there is always chance of one or two not making it). All made it and in their 21st week, began laying. I averaged 2-3 eggs per day and usually had plenty for our family of 5 at the time. If you have friends you can always give away. I didn't find their feed expensive, and as near as I could figure, cost was equal to store cost, around $1/1.25 a dozen.
But the quality and the beauty of the eggs! I'd never had a fresh egg and I couldn't believe it. The yolks were gorgeous (probably because I let them out in yard with plenty of grass to peck at as well as all the dandelions they could eat). The taste is great. I made
home made egg noodles and dried and froze them, depending on the whim of the day. I made souffles (one was a macaroni and cheese and corn souffle, kids loved it). I made angel food cake and it was as good as you might think. Of course omelets. It was great. I always had eggs. But I did sometimes have to wait for the production of the day.
You are going to have to have 2 birds at a minimum, 3 is better, and four is fine I think. They are wonderful pets. Mine bonded very well with me, and would perch on my arm, and nestle under my "wings" when I sat on the garden bench. They loved the compost pile, which was well established with earthworms and I would put them in it when there was fresh produce
scraps for them to eat, and when I got around to it, I'd dig in it for them and they'd scratch at the worms and make this chicken purring sound of absolute happiness. They were one of the best animal experiences I ever had.
I kept mine in the garden shed at night in an old rabbit cage I had partially disassembled and reconfigured into a perch and nest area with apple crates, extra wire fencing, etc. I locked the door against the neighborhood raccoons, cats, etc. (This was in the city). The first days I had them it was hot, so I brought a smaller cage outside and let them enjoy the air. I told our cat they were ours, and they belonged, just as he did (world's greatest cat) and the dog as well. They protected the birds against cats, and any other pests, the cat ran off a raccoon the first night we had them, as I was preparing the shed for the night. Of course you have to keep them warm by some means for weeks; they will die in a heartbeat if you are lax in that respect.
You will probably have a surplus of eggs, but that's what friends are for, or maybe sell at a Saturday market. (05/19/2010)
I am 23 years old and grew up on a farm. I remember being 4 or 5 years old the first time I hatched my own chicks in an incubator. My dad had grown up raising them and I grew up on organic chicken eggs. It totally pays off. They are not only healthier, but if you are like me and live out in the middle of nowhere, it beats using gas to go to the store, too.
My daddy made a grinder out of some old wheels and we would make our own feed for the chickens. We would just let them roam around and when they were ready for laying, we had a nice chicken coop that they stayed in. It is an enjoyable experience and yes you do fall in love with them. (05/19/2010)
The most important thing to remember is that salmonella poisoning occurs from contaminates from the shell of the egg. Clean them immediately after gathering. Also, chicken poo can be hazardous as well if not cleaned up once in a while. (05/20/2010)
Four chickens should be about right for two adults. Keep in mind most hens will lay about one every other day for several months. Then they take a break, usually during the winter they won't lay at all. Unless they are in a controlled environment. As for the meat, you probably want a different type of chicken for meat. Go to your local hatchery and get broilers, they grow faster and are meatier than a fancy silkie hen. As for getting attached to them, once you eat the chicken you forget all about it. (05/22/2010)
You will definitely fall in love with silkies. They are very docile and sweet. They are not good meat producers anyway. Country eggs are best for you and if you are a big egg eater you will love them. They aren't always best cost, but the taste is incomparable. Do research on the net for best egg layers and best meat breeds. But you probably will fall in love with any of them. That is a choice you will have to make. Good luck! (05/22/2010)
Silkies lay small eggs, so it really takes two of them to equal the size of an extra-large egg. As for breaking even, it depends on what you feed them. The easy way is to buy pre-mixed mash for them, but it costs the most. It also leaves out a lot of things that chicken do well on. We feed ours whole wheat grains, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps, and oyster shell. Since we live in a grain producing area, we are able to get the wheat (or sometimes corn or oats) free. If all else fails, we watch for grain spills on the highway and sweep it up. It might have a little dirt in it, but that's good for chickens, too. But we draw the line at grain that's gotten dirty from vehicle exhaust. Also, grain that's some bright pastel color, especially hot pink, has been treated for planting and will kill the chickens. (05/22/2010)
Well 4 chickens should be enough. If it is too much you can always sell the eggs. My self and a lot of other people I know buy eggs like this. We normally pay between 2.00 and 3.00 a dozen. People that do this will find that they have a hard time keeping up with demand. I would suggest at sometime getting a rooster if you want to continue eating the eggs you will need more chickens as they only live so long. You will have to check the eggs, but it is not that hard. If you have too many chickens you can also sell them too. Many people are raising their own chickens for eggs and meat now. (06/03/2010)
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