We ended up with many Rhode Island Reds that my sister needed to get rid of the first time we acquired chickens. Even though we had a nice coop passed down to us by some friends, we didn’t give much attention to what kind of chickens we should have or how many.
That was a rookie error. While keeping hens for the past six years, we’ve learned which breeds we prefer and dislike. We have an idea of how many chickens our new coop can accommodate. We’ve seen what occurs when you have too many hens in a tight space.
Now that we’ve gained a lot of experience, I’d like to share some of that information with those just starting. A backyard flock of chickens requires a certain number of birds.
The number of hens you retain will be determined by the purpose they will be kept: as pets, future meat, or as egg layers. In addition, the size of your flock will be determined by your geographic location and the amount of available land.
As a flock animal, chickens can’t flourish without at least three other chickens in their care.
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What’s the Point of Having Chickens?
1. Keeping hens as pets is an option for some individuals.
They’re calm and peaceful, provided you acquire the correct breed for the most part. Don’t buy Rhode Island Reds if you’re looking for a peaceful pet! Silkies are the way to go.
This includes Silkie and Polish Silver Laced rooster breeds if you get the correct type of bird. Additionally, these breeds are aesthetically pleasing because of their soft, fuzzy feathers that appear to be hair. Even the silkies’ feet are covered in fur.
As a backyard pet, three or four hens may be the ideal number for you. Overcrowding can lead to fights between the chickens, leading to their deaths.
Additionally, it’s more humane to make sure your chickens have plenty of room to roam. (Plus, happy hens lay nicer eggs, in my opinion.)
One of those charming chicken coop kits from the hardware store will accommodate a flock of three or four chickens. If you have more than six people, you’ll need a larger home.
Keep in mind that if you have children, they will fall in love with chickens. As a result, when one of your children dies, you’ll need to assist them in dealing with it emotionally.
Chickens have a shorter lifespan than many other pets (5-10 years if well-protected) and a large number of natural predators, making them more vulnerable to death than many other pets.
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2. Because humans are natural predators of chickens, some people keep them as pets.
To consume chicken, one must eat both the meat and the bones. Cooking methods include baking, frying, and grilling. Bone broth, made from the bones and rich in collagen, is said by some to be able to treat the common cold.
For meat, you’ll need to stock up on many game hens. At The Elliott Homestead, they recommend 50 hens if you wish to average one chicken a week in their article, Raising a Year’s Supply of Meat.
Although 50 game chickens are modest in stature, they take up a significant amount of space. Space and homesteading-friendly legislation in your city and county are prerequisites for this form of chicken rearing. Before deciding how many chickens you’ll keep, verify the local laws and regulations.
Some communities may have adopted arbitrary codes from other places that don’t make sense in the area. Having more than six chickens in a rural town required a license, which seemed unnecessary to us.
Changing the law is not out of the question if you are serious about raising chickens. Your neighbors and local politicians will have to be convinced, but it may be worth it.
3. Eggs are the third and most prevalent reason for keeping hens.
It’s worth the money to buy cage-free eggs from a local farm because they are a good source of protein.A small household can get by daily with a flock of six to eight hens.
Remember that chickens develop at their own pace. If you start your hens as day-old chicks, it will take about three and a half to four months to get your first egg.
To ensure year-round egg-laying, you’ll need to keep your chickens cool and hydrated in the summer and warm with an electric light in the winter. It’s more sensible to get a new one than to hold on to the old one for nostalgic reasons.
Of course, if they’re just pets, things are different. A clear understanding of why you desire a flock of chickens will aid in determining both the number of birds that you purchase and the method of their management. We feel that keeping hens for whatever reason is a worthy activity, even though the lessons you learn can be difficult at times.
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What Having Chickens Has Taught Us
Cull your flock regularly, as older chickens don’t produce as many eggs as their younger counterparts. Freeloaders, especially if some of your chickens are six or seven years old, consume feed but do nothing in return.
It’s more sensible to get a new one than to hold on to the old one for nostalgic reasons. Of course, if they’re just pets, things are different.
A clear understanding of why you want a flock of chickens will aid in determining both the number of birds that you purchase and the method of keeping them. We feel that keeping hens for whatever reason is a worthy activity, even though the lessons you learn can be difficult at times.
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What Having Chickens Has Taught Us
Having hens was an obvious choice for us. When it’s time to cull the flock, we want the eggs and the occasional chicken supper. For our sons’ sake, we also wanted them to be able to take care of an animal that directly contributes to the family’s financial well-being.
A child’s development and sense of belonging are strengthened when he or she is assigned a regular duty. Being tasked with a task while living on a farm or homestead is an entirely other experience.
For our sons, it provides an opportunity to learn about the natural cycle of life and death and the significance of regular care for live creatures, and any inventive solutions to damaged fences, gates, and coops when things go awry.
After moving a few hundred miles away from our previous home, we decided to take a vacation from raising chickens. I expected our eldest kid to relish the time off, but instead, he became the most vocal advocate for resuming our flocking activities.
Interesting, he saw those difficult early years when none of us knew what we were doing as a starting point to strive for greater success. He was eager to use what he’d learned from our chicken-keeping books.
Seven hens, a combination of Barred Rock, Ameraucana, and Brahma, reside in our yard. Silkie roosters from the same original flock are also present.
Although keeping Silkie roosters is controversial and even illegal in certain areas, we couldn’t imagine life without them. Compared to other breeds, they’re quieter and less aggressive. We believe they promote egg production and keep the pecking order under control.
Because roosters tend to be territorial, most people only desire one, but ours were given to us as a set by a person looking to rehome them. We take our responsibilities as rural residents very seriously, and we have a great deal of affection for animals in need.
You can decide how many hens and roosters you’d want to keep in your backyard now that you’ve learned more about the average flock size and the various reasons people maintain chickens.