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Every week, people usually spend $3 on eggs. Now that may not sound like much but it adds up! So, my family and I have decided that we are going to get chickens. Chicken feed costs $15 for a fifty pound bag. That lasts two months. Also we are getting four chickens, which will give us 20 eggs a week! And all we'll have to pay is $15 every two months. I don't know about you, but we are sticking with fresh, organic, CHEAP eggs.
After our chicken's last broody episode we thought that she had quit laying eggs. When my husband was moving things around in their coop, he made a funny discovery. She had been laying her eggs in a hidden place behind their hen house. :)
The summer heat seems to affect everything, even our eggs! A while back it got over 103 degrees F and I had one chicken go into heat stroke because she had decided to start going broody that day. I got an emergency crash course in reviving and stabilizing a chicken in severe heat stroke. What I hadn't expected is two days later another one suffered heat stroke too. I caught her signs much earlier as I happened to be home when the second one started to collapse!
What I hadn't thought possible was the effects the heat has on the chickens' eggs. My Phoenix hen, the second one to heat stroke, stopped laying for almost a month, or so I thought. The heat had caused her to stop laying her usual blue green eggs and she was laying white ones! We have another hen that lays white eggs and I had thought that she was laying more often, but nope. The hen had only the tiniest hue of blue on white.
I doubled the amount of electrolytes and probiotics in their water along with my old standby unfiltered apple cider vinegar. She went from laying a white egg to laying blue green eggs. Don't believe it? The photo below shows an egg she laid last week compared to her egg today! She is not the only one showing changes however. Our top hen, the boss, usually lays dark mocha colored eggs with reddish spots. Her eggs have been light brown with white spots since the summer heat started (see photo at top)! Keep an eye on those eggs. The slightest color changes can tell you that your hens are lacking in electrolytes or are feeling ill even before they physically show it!
Prior to bringing home your new chicks you will want to get all of your supplies and set out their brooder box. Then the fun begins. This is a guide about getting ready to raise chicks.
This page documents the growth and development of backyard pet chickens over a six week period. This is a guide about chicks week-by-week (weeks 1-6).
Hens do not lay eggs year around, there are breaks during the colder months. Older girls also eventually stop laying. If none of these apply, you may want to check with a vet to make sure your hen is not ill or egg bound. This is a guide about hen not laying eggs.
This is a guide about caring for chickens. When growing poultry for meat or eggs in your own backyard, you want to make it an enjoyable experience for your birds and your family.
This guide is about predator proofing a chicken coop. Making sure your birds are safe from uninvited visitors will keep your hen house secure.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Mother Earth News has done testing on free range chicken eggs vs. the normal store bought eggs and the differences are remarkable. Their new chicken and egg page has test results and information on raising chickens. Basically free range chickens are chickens that are allowed to walk around, peck, eat grass, weeds and insects plus chicken feed as opposed to those that spend their lives in a tiny pen. How many of you out there have your own chickens?
It makes sense and very interesting. I don't have chickens, merely eat them, but this is very fascinating.
I use to raise a lot of poultry,chickens ,ducks,pheasants,once a few geese.My chickens had the run of the farm.Raised both laying hens and broilers.
Had a coop when I was a child living on some land. Now a suburbanite and have a handful of pullets. Lots of cheap fun.
Two RIRs and two EEs.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
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)
Can I raise two Black Bottom hens together in a cage rather than letting them free-range roam? Or should I modify a large wooden refrigerator shipping crate with wire and screening, etc. with wheels to move the crate/coop around, in the crowded, grassy, filtered sun yard.
I don't want to make too much of a fuss over them, but they are so beautiful, young hens, and lay great eggs, according to owner. Does the cost to raise them for your own family's organic egg needs justify the time and expense of food and maintenance and/or protection, etc.?
My grandson is excited and I have already "ordered" two from a local farm, being ready to pickup on Tuesday. Do hens make as much noise as roosters that crow? I don't remember a thing about the two white "Easter" chickens I raised as a teen, and need to know what I'm getting into. Do they get diseases, illnesses easily? Are they really hard to clean up after? Any shortcuts?
I have a newsletter coming about them started, but it says less than I hoped about them as "pets" and for beginners. Any basic help ASAP is appreciated.
Thanks a bunch. God bless you.
By lyndagayle62 from North Texas
Hens are quiet, only roosters crow. A portable chicken house/run is preferable so they can get fresh grass, bugs, etc. Yes, it is worth the effort. We started raising chickens two years ago and now that I've enjoyed fresh farm eggs daily, even through the Indiana winter, I wouldn't go back to store eggs ever. Once the coop/run is made, the maintenance is very low. Just give them lots of sunshine, feed, fresh greens, water, room to run, and love. They'll be happy. (05/15/2009)
Check out backyardchickens.com We just recently got 8 chickens and my mother found this site for us to look at. Seems to have a lot of info. Good luck. (05/19/2009)
We have about 25+ chickens.They are "free range" up to a point as they share their "yard" with our goats. The only time they are "noisy" is when they cackle laying an egg. It would be much better for them to have a roving cage with nest boxes. Chickens need the greens from grass (or leftover greens from the house) and will keep your bug population down. We feed ours grain (laying mash) mixed with leftovers from the house. The only ones we keep in cages are those "setting" (hatching out chicks) and those destined for the freezer. I don't know if it's a proven fact, but uncaged chicken eggs are "supposed" to be lower in cholesterol. I do know we prefer our eggs to store bought. (05/19/2009)
Your comments are so encouraging and helpful, as well as the websites you suggested. Thank you so very much. These are not the breed I was told, but are "Barred Plymouth Rock" hens and I have found a photo I hope gets forwarded for you to see. They are so sweet that they are now "cooing" occasionally when I come near, as if a "dove" or something, so I just did my best interpretation response and they stopped cold, turned their heads like a Jack Russell terrier does when trying to understand something. Then as I "trilled" a sound they immediately sat
down and got very still. What in the world have I discovered accidentally? It's unbelievable that I lucked into two with such sweet personalities. What a blessing.
Today, a week after getting them, I began to run low on regular starter food, with maybe 10 microscopic tiny pieces of corn in the whole 4 lbs. of food I bought last week, I went on line to several "chicken feed recipes for DIY" and discovered that I had an unopened Pringles size can of corn flake powder, so I put my thinking cap on, used ideas I'd found/heard, and made the following recipe for my young pullets, not yet adults or ready to lay.
To one cup of crushed raisin bran (minus large raisins), I sprayed butter all over the crushed Raisin Bran then sprinkled with the following foods I have here:
I figured that they are getting some vitamins and minerals from the Raisin Bran cereal as well as the remains of what starter feed I had. As I finished a bowl of sweetened rice for breakfast, I realized the cooked rice might work as well, so I added 1 tsp of it.
I'll get them some regular starter food and keep using my kitchen scraps, etc., as long as there are no outwards signs of difficulties or refusal to eat. It certainly looked healthy, was all approved by online folks, and now I move closer to their getting tiny combs to go with their full feathers and great big feet.
Tomorrow I hope to begin working on that coop I've thought so much about and gathered advice/ideas about. I may have an old patio screen door, spare screen wire roll, and I know I have plenty of scrap wood to make something that should work, as long as it's safe for them and humans. Yet, thoughts of winter protection are in the back of my mind as I begin to plan. I know God will help me design from there since no one can see it or offer further instructions. He has always provided for our needs and a few of our desires. How lucky that we have each others' minds as well as, Him to rely upon, right?
I think a few chickens for fresh eggs is a great idea. They eat bugs and vegetable peels and are no real trouble. But, I recently learned they only lay eggs for a few years and live much longer than that. Then what do you do? I wouldn't be able to kill and clean them to eat. (05/20/2009)
Chickens need space and plenty of grit to digest their food. Egg shells are brilliant to get them to lay better. My grandmother raised bantams and she swore by egg shells. Crumble them and throw them out for the chickens to eat.
You might let them roam. They love bugs and if confined too long, will begin to eat each other.
We raise our chickens and are getting 8 eggs a day now. It is nothing short of wonderful to know there are plenty of eggs on hand and we are raising some new chicks.