While chickens provide great companionship, there is a very tangible benefit to raising backyard chickens: their eggs. Having a fresh supply of eggs that your family can enjoy each morning is why many chicken raisers get into the business in the first place. Plus, there’s no denying that selling your chicken eggs can be quite lucrative as well.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, this guide will help you and your flock produce a steady supply of fresh eggs.
Best Egg-Laying Breeds
People buy backyard chickens for a whole host of reasons. Some want companionship, some want to produce meat, and others want to produce eggs. If the latter is your goal, then you’ll want to buy breeds that are known for their high egg-laying potential. At Chickens for Backyards, we recommend the following breeds:
These chickens are mostly used for the commercial poultry industry, but they also make great additions to a backyard flock. They have a reputation for superior egg production, laying anywhere from 250 to 300 eggs each year.
Barred Plymouth Rock
While they didn’t come here with the Mayflower, these are one of America’s oldest chicken breeds. They can lay up to 280 large brown eggs per year, and their larger size also means they’re good for meat production.
These beautiful, docile birds are often brought into a flock as pets. They can also produce quite a number of eggs, laying more than 300 each year.
Rhode Island Red
A true classic American breed, Rhode Island Reds are a national favorite. They can adapt to almost any climate and can produce many large to extra-large brown eggs each year.
Just because you’ve bought an egg-laying breed doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get a large supply of eggs each year. You need to provide proper care and attention to your chickens in order to get the best results.
When to Expect Eggs from Your Chickens
If you bought adult chickens, then you should expect them to be laying eggs already. However, if you’ve bought chicks, you may have to wait. Chickens typically start producing eggs between their 16th and 24th week of age.
How Often Chickens Lay Eggs
On average, chickens will lay about one egg per day. However, the rate at which they lay eggs can vary depending on the breed, their age, the season, and their health. Young, healthy chickens will lay more eggs than older or unhealthy chickens. Additionally, the amount of sunlight chickens receive will impact their egg production. This means their production rate will dip during the fall and winter months.
Feeding Your Chickens
The health of your chickens is of the utmost importance. Not only will this keep them happy, but it will also ensure that they lay eggs on a regular basis. For most chickens, their health relies on a balanced diet. There are many types of chicken feed out on the market (some chicken owners even make their own). Most will keep your chickens healthy, but if you want to boost egg production, you should keep an eye out for ingredients such as oyster shells. These provide extra calcium, which can help support chickens who are laying soft eggs or no eggs at all.
For more information on how to properly feed your chickens, read through our feeding guide here.
Caring for Eggs
Once your chickens start laying eggs, you’ll need to properly care for those eggs. Here’s where to start:
While there is often a debate between washing and not washing chicken eggs, we believe it’s always a good idea to wash or dry clean your eggs. Chicken eggs come into contact with a lot of dirt, bacteria, and chicken feces. Without washing them, you could put yourself or others at risk of contracting a disease.
You can learn how to properly wash your fresh eggs here.
Once you’ve washed your eggs, it’s time store them for long-term use. We often put the egg we get from the grocery store in the refrigerator, but they can be kept at room temperature for quite a while. Eggs that stay at room temperature can last for about a month, while eggs kept in a fridge can stay fresh for up to six months.
Common Problems with Egg Production
Raising chickens is a rewarding experience, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of problems. There are a few common problems that can crop up with egg production. Thankfully, there are also quite a few solutions.
Chickens Stopped Laying Eggs
It can be troubling when one or many of your chickens stop laying eggs. While sometimes this is a result of an illness, it could also be the result of something as simple as age or lack of sunlight. As we said before, older chickens produce fewer eggs than younger chickens. Additionally, you will notice fewer eggs during the colder months when chickens get less sunlight. Sometimes too it can be a result of their diet, so you can try boosting their calcium levels with oyster shells.
For a full list of reasons (and solutions) for why your chickens have stopped laying eggs, read over our guide here.
Chickens Produce Weak Eggs
Maybe your chickens are still laying eggs, but they’re weak and brittle. Soft eggs are usually a result of a poor diet or a poor environment. Try boosting their calcium or vitamin D intake, and ensure you’re creating a stress-free environment for them to enjoy.
You Have Too Many Eggs
Your intent was always to have a constant supply of fresh eggs, but what happens when you have too many? Thankfully, there are ways to unload yourself of all those unused eggs. You can sell them, give them away to friends and family, or even freeze them. For some more ideas, read over our past blog post.
For further questions about chickens or their eggs, contact Chickens for Backyards today!