Common Chicken Questions
People from all over the world contact me with comments and questions about homesteading. Chicken questions top the list! Here are some of the common questions I am asked about raising chickens…I hope that this post will answer some of your questions too!
How Many Eggs do Chickens Lay?
The best layers will produce an egg almost every day. On occasion a hen will lay 3 eggs in 2 days…but this is not common and the hen will usually not lay this many eggs for long. Most chickens will take a day or two off each week and will stop producing eggs each year when they go into a molt. As they get older hens will decrease egg production until they are no longer laying any eggs at all.
Are There Medications that Will Increase Egg Production?
No, there aren’t any medications that will increase the number of eggs a hen will lay. However, hens that are healthy and happy will lay better than hens that are sick or stressed. Some people swear that crushed red pepper will increase egg production, but I haven’t done any experiments with this.
What is the Best Feed for Increasing Egg Production?
A balanced layer feed with proper calcium, protein, fat, and trace nutrients will give your hens everything they need to produce their maximum egg output.
Allowing them access to green pasture will give them exercise and they will be happier in this natural setting. Some people have had good results with feeding their hens only compost and pasture, but you would need to give them extra space and a lot of compost for this.
Do not feed your hens many treats or encourage them to overeat. Having too much body fat will decrease the number of eggs they lay and make them unhealthy.
How Long do Chickens Live?
Chickens can live 10 years or more with good health and proper nutrition. They won’t lay many eggs after 3 or 4 years, however.
Do I Need a Rooster in My Flock for the Hens to Lay Eggs?
No, hens will lay eggs regardless of whether there is a rooster in their flock. The eggs just won’t be fertile if there is no rooster.
Find out How to Get Rid of Unwanted Roosters!
Are Fertile Eggs Edible?
Yes, you can eat fertile eggs. There is very little difference between a fertile egg and one that hasn’t been fertilized, as far as what they will look like or taste like.
If a fertile egg is kept warm enough, the tiny embryo will develop and you will probably not want to eat eggs that have growing embryos in them.
Can I Keep Ducks and Turkeys With My Chickens?
There may be diseases that poultry species can spread to each other, but it is possible to keep them together. I use Acidified Copper Sulfate to worm my chickens regularly to prevent them from spreading blackhead disease to my turkeys.
Where Can I Get Free Chickens?
I shared a post once about getting chickens for free and I often get people commenting on that post asking for free chickens. I don’t actually have any free chickens for you, but I suggest that you check Freecycle and Craigslist in your area for people looking for homes for their chickens. Quite often they are getting rid of hens that aren’t laying very well any more, but you can use them for stewing hens, or put them with a rooster and keep them until you get a few eggs that can be placed in an incubator to raise your own chicks. Quarantine new chickens before adding them to your flock.
What Are the Best Chicken Breeds for Egg Production?
It’s hard to get chicken enthusiasts to agree on the answer to this question. If you prefer to keep heritage breeds of chickens, the White Leghorn is reputed to be the best egg producer with the Rhode Island Red as the best heritage breed for brown eggs. If you don’t care about heritage breeds and just want the best hens for all around egg production, you would do well to keep California Whites or Production Reds. The Rhode Island Red is also good dual purpose bird.
For more information about choosing breeds of chickens for your backyard flock, check out my article How to Choose the Best Chickens for Your Homestead!
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in the Winter?
Most chickens will lay eggs in the winter, although some breeds lay better in cold weather than others. Buckeyes and Turkens are both good winter layers. You will get more eggs from your hens in the winter if you have a bright light on a timer in their coop. The light should come on for around 15 hours a day for best winter egg production.
Why are eggs stored with the large end up?
Poultry eggs have an air sac in the large end of the egg. This provides air for the hatching chick, just before it pips through the shell. The eggshell is permeable and allows for the absorption of air into the egg so that the chick will have enough oxygen as it develops and hatches. Eggs that are intended for eating will still absorb air during storage, causing the air sac to enlarge over time. If the egg is stored with the large end down, the increasing size of the air sac can cause the egg yolk to move and potentially break. If this happens, the egg will spoil much more quickly.
Do you have chicken questions that I didn’t answer? Ask your questions in the comments!