Do you have questions about how to raise chickens and eggs? You may be wondering “When does a chicken start laying eggs?” or “How many eggs does a chicken lay in a day?” Let’s get them answered!
Our furry-footed gal, Sprinkles.
I often get questions about raising chickens, so I thought I would create a post to point people to. We love having chickens. They are very sweet and friendly companions, and easier to care for than most other pets. Adult hens need only a few things: food, water, and shelter. Not only is raising chickens fun and rewarding, but it’s also a kinder way of getting eggs than buying them from traditional chicken farms where you don’t know how the chickens are treated.
How to care for baby chicks
Most backyard chicken owners buy chicks from feed stores or have them shipped to their homes. Be sure you have a space all set up for the chicks before you get them.
Plan on staying home to care for the chicks the day they arrive. Chicks are usually shipped just after hatching and bump around in a box on a truck for a day or two usually without any food or water.
They are very fragile and many don’t survive this transport. You will need to help the babies drink water by dipping the tip of their beaks in their water. Chicks cannot regulate their body temperature – they’re meant to have a momma hen sitting on them!
You will also need to have a special heat lamp keeping the air temperature 95 degrees F for the first week, 90 degrees the second, and so on, reducing by 5 degrees each week by pulling the lamp farther away from the chicks.
Supplies you will need for baby chicks
You should be able to find these supplies at your local feed store.
- chick waterer
- chick feeder
- chick starter feed
- brooder: a large box or tub to keep chicks in (you will quickly need to increase the size as chicks grow)
- proper absorbent bedding. 1″ of pine shavings is recommended
- heat lamp
- a thermometer that won’t melt (been there)
- chicken coop for when they are ready to go outside
What if I don’t want to raise chicks and want adult hens?
Some chicken farmers will sell older chickens that can go right into a coop. We have done this when we wanted to add more hens to our group but didn’t want to have the hassle of having chicks residing in our guest bedroom again. If you’re in the central/southern California region try Dare 2 Dream Farm
– they even deliver!
When do chickens start laying eggs?
Hens start laying eggs around 6 months of age. The girls don’t always know they are supposed to lay in their nesting boxes. We found our first egg in the front yard under a bush! Placing a fake egg in nesting boxes helps the hens figure it out. Don’t use a real egg, or the chickens may eat it and then start eating their own eggs.
How often do chickens lay eggs?
On average, chickens lay eggs about once a day, but this can vary depending on factors such as breed, age, and environmental conditions. Some chickens may lay more or less frequently than others, and their egg production can also be influenced by changes in light, temperature, and other factors. Additionally, hens will typically lay fewer eggs as they age, with production declining after their first year of laying.
Do you need a rooster to lay eggs?
No, like other animals (including humans) female chickens, called hens, produce eggs regardless of a male. Without a rooster fertilizing the eggs, the eggs will never hatch chicks, but mature hens usually lay about 1 egg per day. Roosters are not allowed in most cities and are quite noisy. They don’t just cock-a-doodle-do in the morning, they do it all. day. long.
Do fresh eggs have to be refrigerated?
No! We keep our eggs in a basket on the counter for a week + and they have been great. This is similar to other countries outside the US, such as France.
In France, eggs are not washed before they are sold, as washing can remove the protective cuticle on the eggshell and increase the risk of contamination. Instead, French eggs are left unprocessed, which helps to maintain their natural protective coating and keeps them fresher for longer. Additionally, eggs are not typically stored for as long in France as they are in some other countries, which also helps to ensure their freshness.
Should chickens be kept in a pen all day or free range?
Watching backyard chickens run, play, and peck at seeds and worms makes you realize these birds are not meant for small cages. They love being outside their coop.
When we first had chickens we let them stay outside all day, and before dusk they would go into the coop themselves or follow us when we called them in for the night.
After losing chickens to predators, we decided they could only be outside with supervision, which makes us sad, but keeps the hens safe.
What about predators?
Chickens are defenseless and need to be protected, or they will be eaten. Raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats all take chickens. Hawks and owls will get smaller chickens. This bobcat was on our back patio. We don’t live out in the country. Now that bobcats know we have chickens they come looking for them daily.
Where do I get a chicken coop?
There are some coops available online. Many I don’t recommend as they are small and dark. Chickens need sunlight and room to move around, in my opinion. My husband built our coop from a plan he found online, but if I were to buy one, I would get this one
with a run from Williams-Sonoma.
What determines egg yolk color?
Yolk color depends on the chickens’ diets. When our chickens are allowed to free range and eat a variety of things their egg yolks are darker orange.
What determines egg shell color?
Egg shell color is determined by the breed of the hen. For example, our white leghorn lays white eggs, while our buff cochin lays brown eggs. If you’d like blue eggs, you’ll want an easter egger!
How long do chickens lay eggs?
Chickens typically start laying eggs when they reach maturity at around 5-6 months of age, and will continue to lay eggs for 2-3 years, with the highest level of egg production occurring during the first year of laying. After this time, egg production may decline gradually, and hens may lay fewer eggs or stop laying altogether.
However, the exact length of time that a chicken will lay eggs can vary depending on factors such as breed, health, and environment. Some chickens may continue to lay eggs for several years, while others may stop laying after just a year or two.
How long do backyard chickens live?
Backyard chickens can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years or even longer with proper care. However, the lifespan of a chicken can vary depending on a variety of factors such as breed, genetics, diet, exercise, and living conditions. Some breeds are known for their longevity, while others may be more susceptible to health problems that can shorten their lifespan. Additionally, chickens that are well-cared for, provided with a healthy diet, clean water, and a comfortable living environment, and receive regular veterinary care are more likely to live longer and healthier lives.
How to easily boil and peel an egg:
If eggs are refrigerated, bring them out of the fridge to come to room temperature, which will help prevent cracking. You can bring them to room temp faster by placing them in a bowl of warm water. Bring a large pot of enough water to cover the eggs to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda, which is thought to help lower the pH and make eggs easier to peel. Gently lower eggs into the water with a slotted spoon. Boil 8 minutes and remove from the water. Place eggs into a bowl of ice water until cool enough to handle. The ice bath will help the egg shrink away from the shell. Peel under cool running water.
What kind of chickens do you recommend?
We love love love our Cochin chickens. They have “furry feet” and are gentle giants. I also love Ameraucana chickens, or “Easter Eggers
“, for their beautiful blue-green eggs.
I loved this post!!! Such great information!! My sister has chickens and we had chickens growing up. They are such fun. I really enjoyed this post!!!
I would LOVE to have chickens! I'll bet they are so fun to watch. We had ducks one summer and loved it…until they flew away 🙁 I couldn't get over how distinctive their personalities were. The photo of the chicken with your girls in the background sure brought a smile to my face…it really looks like she's on the move!
I noticed that you're now truncating your posts. How do you think that's working out for you? I've been thinking of doing too. I found a site last week that sort of seemed like an rss reader, but sort of not, that was scraping my site and putting all my content and photos on it. Yep, call me crabby.
Hope your having a good weekend! xo
Roosters are very noisy and do strut their stuff and song all day long, we live right next to a farm and he starts way before the sun comes up. Not sure if it is the same one since we also have coyotes and bobcats in the area.
Would love to have chickens but we have 2 dogs and 1 catches squirrels right and left so thinking chickens would be a bad idea.
I have a question? I was flipping through the tv this morning and there is a show called yummy mummy that isn't you is it? do you have a show?
How funny! It's not me! But I am going to look for that show! xo
Great post, Marina—I can't believe that bobcat, how frightening to know that they're prowling for the chickens! But your chickens look very happy, and what a great education for your kids.
the weather looks the way i use to enjoy at my grand mom's home :))
Wow, your hens are gorgeous! What a fun experience to have your own chickens. I'm sure your eggs taste amazing!
Thanks for posting! I like that the information will all be in one place for me when I am ready to make that commitment . . . whenever we figure out where we are going to live. 🙂
Oh my goodness, a bobcat on your patio!?! Marina, I am loving your cookbook!!!
I am dying for the day when we have chickens!! When I was a kid our neighbors had them and always gifted us with delicious eggs. The country girl in me longs for farm life!
PS – our former neighbors thought having a rooster was a great idea. That blasted thing would crow starting at 4am and wouldn't shut up til almost midnight. Right outside our bedroom window. Added bonus: when roosters are babies, their practice crowing sounds like a drowning human.
I really enjoyed your post. We just recently decided to start with two Golden Sex-Link chicks which are now 8 weeks old. Having a five year old son, it is great for him to learn how to get along with our two German Shephers, 2 Holland lop bunnies, 2 chicks, and help in our garden. Thanks for sharing. I now want to add a Cochin to our brood since they are so cute!
I wish my backyard was large enough to have some chickens. So jealous. 🙂
I love this post. I've always wanted chickens!! Good info, Thanks so much 🙂
What a great post!
I'm so glad to hear more and more people getting excited about raising chickens in their backyards.
Another option for chicken coops that I would recommend to your readers is the Combo Coop and Gable Coop from The Chicken Gardener http://chickengardener.com/
They are a small business making high quality, long lasting and great looking coops! They're designs are functional and affordable with great features. I recommend checking them out! They ship nation wide!
Where do you live that you get bobcats in your yard?! We live on the very edge of the city. So even though there is a farm behind my house, I'm not allowed to have chickens because I am just barely inside the city limits. Oh well, some day! I loved your post, very interesting!
Hi Alley! It's crazy, right?! We also live just outside the city but right off a major road. The hills aren't too far away so I guess the bobcats come down when they find out there are chickens nearby! 🙂
A lot of fresh eggs have a little speck of something like blood in them but the bought ones don't, what causes this?
I have 3 roosters and 3 more growing, they don't crow all day (never heard of that) and besides hens also make noise when they lay and fly off the nest. The wild birds around my house make more noise than my chickens and I have about 35 chickens in all.
I've actually only seen this once in our fresh eggs.
I found this on what'scookingamerica.com: “…caused by the rupture of a blood vessel during formation of the egg. Blood spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Mass candling methods reveal most blood spots and those eggs are removed, but even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them. If desired, the spot can be removed with the tip of a clean knife prior to cooking. These eggs are safe to eat.”
Are outside cats predators to the Hens? I have 2 that go in and out and my neighbor is a cat rescue person and has more than I wish he had. If I need to build a special “movable” free roaming space, I will. Thanks.
Hi there, most cats will not hurt full grown chickens. I think our cat is more afraid of the chickens than the chickens are of the cat! However, there are some cats that will attack a chicken, especially if they are bantams or babies. It's safest to have chickens protected from all animals (neighborhood dogs, raccoons, etc.) by a movable free roaming space like you mention. It really just depends if you want to risk it or not.
That is so neat that you have such wonderful roosters. I actually enjoy hearing roosters crow. They're not allowed in our city, however.
Coming from a bit of experience both good and bad, you can get other animals to get along with your chickens. For us it took the addition of a young rooster (about 6 months old)to keep our dogs in line long enough to understand that the chickens are a part of the family. we have had our brood for about a year now and no longer have to watch the dogs like hawks. We do however have to keep an eye out for hawks. We have 14 chickens now, one is a rooster and we added 2 chicks this spring. The dogs do not bother any of them now. we keep them in the chicken yard most of the day but let them out into the main area of the yard in the evening, this also helps to keep down bugs and snakes. I could not imagine not sharing this with my kids. There is always a look of excitement when they go out to check for eggs.
Thanks so much for your helpful input! I will keep this in mind if we ever get a dog 🙂 And I agree… getting eggs from the coop is so fun for the kids (and parents!).
I am sure it said it but for some reason must have missed it… what breed is the hen photoed on the top? I am very interested in getting a few of them for our next run at chickens!
Hi, Sprinkles is a Brahma (color is Buff) 🙂
I love chickens. This post was a joy to read and what amazing photography. Your house looks beautiful.