Many communities now allow homeowners to keep a few hens in backyard coops. While you might not save money by keeping chickens rather than buying store bought eggs, you will have the advantage of knowing your eggs are fresh and from happy, healthy hens!
The first step is to make sure you know the rules of keeping your own hens. Most suburban areas will not allow roosters, due to the noise factor, but you don’t need roosters for your hens to produce eggs for your breakfast. What you do need is a safe home for them, a quality feed, space for them to exercise and be happy chickens, and a few chickens.
We plan for about 5 eggs per hen per week. When they first start laying, you may get fewer, at top production you will get more, but this is a good estimate. 5 hens will provide you with a couple of dozen eggs per week, enough for the average family and possibly enough to share with your neighbor.
5 hens can easily be kept in the average backyard coop; in fact, more is not unreasonable if your town permits them. If your yard is fenced, you can keep them in a coop overnight and let them out for a few hours a day to stretch their legs a bit. Just as with people, exercise and good food are essential for good health.
Their feed is another topic to consider. Commercial feeds are available in several formulations including soy free, and organic. We prefer organic and also feed them a selection of veggies and greens from our farm produce. Roaming in the yard, they will also enjoy grass and other forage and delight in cutting down on your bug population, too!
Interested in keeping a few hens? A few things to consider, in addition to that mentioned above, is:
metal trash cans keep feed safe from rain and wildlife.
chickens need space to roost, especially at night. Plan at least one foot of roost space per hen
hens will lay eggs in nest boxes, but also might choose under your rose bush. If they are allowed out to forage, you will need to consider the daily egg hunt.
chickens need fresh, clean water available at all times.
to increase your omega 3 content of your eggs, supplement their feed with flax seed
chickens can become very tame and make great backyard pets
chickens become quite dormant at night and are easily captured by predators when roosting. Keep them safely contained at night.
hens lay fewer eggs with each progressive year but are capable of producing for several years.