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How Many Chickens to Raise

How Many Chickens to Raise

How Many Chickens to Raise

The best advice is to start out small, and build your flock as you gain more experience. While raising chickens is not as complicated as rocket science, you will undoubtedly be better at it with each year of experience.

If this is your first time raising chickens, you may not want more than three hens to start. A few hens will produce almost a dozen eggs a week, and they will help teach you the ropes so that you can add to your flock in the next spring season.

If you decide to start with only a few chicks, the only drawback is that you will be limited by the number of hatcheries that support such small orders. Many hatcheries have minimum orders of 15 or more birds.

Aside from the level of experience you have raising chickens, the other primary consideration is output. How many eggs are you hoping to produce? Or, how much chicken meat would you like to put in your freezer?

Egg Layers:

The number of eggs your hens produce will vary by breed. But if you assume a good egg layer breed or even dual-purpose breed can produce three eggs per week or more, then simple math tells you four hens gets you a dozen eggs per week. And, chances are you will have extras to share with your neighbors.

More info available in Article on Egg Layers

Type of Chicken
Egg Production
Bird Size
Good Brooder
Cold Hardy
Class
Breed
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
Egg Color
Egg Size
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
< 3 per week
3 - 4 per week
5+ per week
< 5 lbs
6 - 7 lbs
7+ lbs
Continental Campine 

X

White  Medium
X



X
Continental Hamburg 

X

White  Small
X



X
Continental Lakenvelder 

X

Cream Medium
X




English Redcap 

X

White  Medium

X


X
Large Minorca 

X

White  X-Large


X


Mediterranean Ancona 


X
White  Large

X


X
Mediterranean Andalusian 

X

White  Large

X



Mediterranean Catalana 

X

Cream Medium

X



Mediterranean Leghorn (Non-White) 

X

White  Large

X



Mediterranean Leghorn (White) 

X

White  X-Large

X


X
Mediterranean Sicilian Buttercup 
X


White  Small
X




Mediterranean White Faced Black Spanish 

X

White  Large

X



N/A Easter Eggers 

X

Green Blue  X-Large

X


X
N/A Fayoumi 
X


Cream Small
X


X

N/A Marans 

X

Dark Brown  Large


X


N/A Penedesenca 

X

Dark Brown  Medium
X




Other Ameraucana 

X

Blue  Medium

X


X
Other Appenzeller Spitzhauben 

X

White  Medium
X



X
Other Araucana 

X

Blue  Medium
X


X
X

 

Meat Birds:

If you are raising meat birds or even dual-purpose breeds for their meat, then the math is a little different. The most common meat bird is the hybrid Cornish hen. If you raise it as a “fryer” you will butcher after about 8 or 9 weeks and the yield will be 3 to 4 lbs. If you give it another 4 weeks and butcher it as a “Roaster”, you should expect a yield of 8 to 9 lbs. For meat birds, the math depends on how big your family is, how many meals you want to have and how long you raise your flock before butchering.

More info available in Article on Meat Birds

Type of Chicken
Egg Production
Bird Size
Good Brooder
Cold Hardy
Class
Breed
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
Egg Color
Egg Size
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
< 3 per week
3 - 4 per week
5+ per week
< 5 lbs
6 - 7 lbs
7+ lbs
English Cornish 
X


Light Brown  Small


X

X
Other Cubalaya 

X

Cream Medium

X

X
X
Other Malay 
X


Light Brown  Medium


X


 

Dual Purpose:

Probably the most common type of breed to have in a backyard is one that can be raised for both egg production as well as meat production. While these breeds do not produce as many eggs as the egg-layers nor as much meat as the meat birds, they do offer a nice middle ground.

One of the major advantages to the dual-purpose breeds is that any excess males will have decent breast muscles and may be butchered for meat. In contrast, if you are raising egg layers, the male chicks are unlikely to develop an appreciable amount of muscle as they mature, so butchering does not yield much benefit.

More info available in Article on Dual Purpose Birds

Type of Chicken
Egg Production
Bird Size
Good Brooder
Cold Hardy
Class
Breed
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
Egg Color
Egg Size
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
< 3 per week
3 - 4 per week
5+ per week
< 5 lbs
6 - 7 lbs
7+ lbs
American Chantecler 

X

Brown  Large


X

X
American Delaware 

X

Brown  Large


X
X
X
American Dominique 

X

Brown  Large

X

X
X
American Holland 

X

White  Large

X

X
X
American Java 
X


Brown  Medium


X
X

American Jersey Giant 

X

Brown  X-Large


X

X
American Plymouth Rock 

X

Brown  Large


X
X
X
American Rhode Island 


X
Brown  X-Large


X

X
American Wyandotte 

X

Brown  Large


X
X
X
Asiatic Brahma 

X

Brown  Medium


X
X
X
Asiatic Langshan 

X

Brown  Medium


X
X
X
Continental Barnevelder 

X

Brown  Large

X


X
Continental Crevecoeur 
X


White  Medium


X


Continental Faverolles 

X

Cream Medium


X
X
X
Continental La Fleche 

X

White  Large

X



Continental Welsummer 

X

Dark Brown  Large

X

X
X
English Australorp 


X
Brown  Large


X
X
X
English Dorking 

X

Cream Medium


X
X
X
English Orpington 

X

Brown  Large


X
X
X
English Sussex 

X

Light Brown  Large


X
X
X
Medium New Hampshire Red 

X

Brown  Large


X
X
X
N/A Star 


X
Brown  Large

X


X
Other Naked Neck (Turken) 
X


Light Brown  Medium

X

X
X

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