Raising Egg Laying Chickens

These days it’s becoming much harder to trust companies with the food we eat. Many companies refuse to label their “food products” or like most pizza shops blatantly refuse to divulge their ingredient lists. Many companies spend billions of dollars each year just so that they can keep their ingredients a secret. I’m sorry but to me that is a big clue to the quality of their ingredients and products. If any company can’t tell me what I’m consuming then they can forget my money. My health is more important than their bottom line.

In an effort to know what is entering our bodies, my wife and I try to grow as much as possible ourselves, and make most things from scratch. As you saw in a previous post we raise a specific breed of chicken for meat. We also have another breed that we raise as our egg layers. We raise Black Australorp chickens as our egg layers. We chose them because they tend to be an aggressive egg layer and they don’t mind being cooped up as much as some breeds, which is good since we live in New York. We order all of our chickens from Murray McMurray Hatchery, but feel free to check out other hatcheries. We have just had good luck with this hatchery.

We have fifteen hens and one rooster. We generally get 14-15 eggs per day. We would be fine with only 7-8 hens but some chickens will only lay eggs every other day instead of every day so I didn’t want us to run short. We just give any extra eggs to family or sell them.

There was no way I was going to spend a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny prebuilt coop so I built my own. I figured out how much room I needed for the amount of chickens we would have and it seems to have worked out well. My coop is 8’x8’ and is 7 ½’ tall. I built the coop like a tiny house and placed roosting poles about 3-3 ½’ off the floor so that the chickens would have a lot of room when they were cooped up during really cold weather. I hang the waterier and feeder near the door so that I don’t have to climb into the coop to feed or refill their water. I built an exterior nest box unit so that it is easy for egg collection. I also put tires on the coop so that I could move it whenever and wherever I want to. I’ve been told that I built a chicken Taj Mahal but I wanted a coop that would last for years instead of one that needed repairs yearly. Here are two pictures of my chicken coop.

 

chicken coop 2chicken coop

 

 

Now we enjoy fresh eggs everyday for breakfast as well as for use in our cooking. It’s nice to know exactly what our chickens are eating, knowing that they really are free range and knowing that they are actually living a decent life for a chicken. I do not heat the coop and they do just fine. The only thing I do is add a small 40 watt light so that they still get 14 hours of light throughout the winter months so that their egg production continues. During the really cold parts of winter I change their water twice a day since it freezes. This doesn’t seem to be a real problem until it gets below 10 degrees outside because they produce plenty of heat. I did insulate and wrap the coop with Tyvek to aid in heat retention. I made sure to add plenty of ventilation as well which is key to keeping them warm in the cold winter.

If you live in an area where you can raise chickens for meat or for eggs I highly recommend that you try raising at least one or two. Start small and work your way up to more. They are very easy to raise and take care of. Chickens are pretty neat to watch when they are free ranging and they are great for the land as well. Growing a garden and raising some chickens will help start you on your way to being self sufficient as well as knowing what you are actually eating. Do you raise chickens now? Have you ever thought about raising your own chickens for eggs or meat? I hope this post encourages you to try raising some of your very own chickens and have fun doing it.

3 thoughts on “Raising Egg Laying Chickens

  1. I agree about not knowing what’s in our food. I normally shop at Kroger, and found by accident that a good part of their seafood comes straight from China. I was told that Kroger has inspectors there, but that’s one of the most polluted places on earth. See my chicken post too

  2. I want to echo your sentiment here, if you live in a place that allows it, I highly recommend having your own chickens. Besides the fact that you will know the food your eating and have that enhanced comfort of it being safe and healthy, let me tell you that they taste soooo much better. We recently had a mini shortage of eggs and bought some free range organic eggs from the store, and there is no comparison to our eggs.

    We have a few breeds for our layers, but our favorite is Buff Orpington. They are easy to find, are solid layers (usually 5-6 eggs a week), can be a multi purpose breed for meat chickens, they are great in tough climates and are extremely mild mannered. Great if you have small children, my two year old picks her up and carries her around. Beware if you don’t want to get too attached because these hens have personality, they will follow you around and play. Its easy to start to view them as pets, which is tough if you are planning on rotating them out for stew chickens when they get past prime laying age.

    Nice coop by the way, one of these days I will find the motivation to upgrade to a Taj Mahal from what is slowly becoming a chicken tenement. oops…

    • Yes, I forgot to mention the taste. Thank you for pointing that out. I have four boys and they range from almost 2, 6, 8 and 10 years old. The three older ones said they never want to eat another store bought chicken again. I slaughter my own chickens so I also know they are done in a clean manner and no chemical baths like the store chickens. No vaccines, antibiotic free and organic feed as a supplement to the free ranging. There is also a ton more meat on the meat birds and the meat is solid not squishy like store bought chicken. You just can’t go wrong producing your own food. Then there’s the eggs! Don’t get me started. What flavor! Imagine an egg that actually tastes like an egg, it’s crazy talk I know.

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