Growing/Butchering/Processing YOUR OWN Chickens

I don’t know if most of you will appreciate this but I feel like it’s an article/how-to that is necessary for a sustainable farm. There are some things I refuse to do, others I refused to do and was told it was an essential part of surviving on the farm (Yes, from the husband). In this world/society, I know we have food available right out of the grocery store but there’s something about knowing where your food comes from and how better to know exactly what process it went through and how unlikely it is that you’ll get e coli poisoning, and whatever other crazy germs seem to being presenting themselves on our chicken these days. (If you want to know more, I suggest watching Food Inc it will definitely open your eyes) Most of it is being shipped to China and is constantly being refused because there are metal pieces in it! Eck. Eek. Yuck. YIKES.

So, this is me warning you ahead of time: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. I don’t want you opening up this post to see blood and guts and not be warned. Though it will take a little bit of reading so you have time to change your mind.

Like most things I post on this blog, I didn’t have any idea what I got myself into/married into ;). As a matter of fact, if you asked me 7 years ago if I would be processing my own chickens, I would have laughed in your face. My first time… I almost couldn’t do it, I most DEFINITELY was not a country girl. The only thing I could handle doing was to rinse the birds off after being processed but the next time I felt okay doing a small amount more and next I did even more until my friend Shay and I would race to see who could process a bird the fastest… I would say that’s growth and acceptance in one 🙂

So is it a step you want to take?

It’s for sure something to think about. In the end it’s pretty similar to a smart chicken being bought out of the store but is cheaper money wise but hard work and less germ yuckiness. The best way that I know is to talk to your friends. The more birds you get, the less they will cost and if you have people interested then most likely they will pay for you to take care of theirs if you have the room and they don’t. Also, that’s extra help which means, assembly line! Which means getting done faster and running like a finely honed engine. If every “station” has a hand on deck then the whole process moves along fairly quickly.

The Hard Part

You start with the above picture of little chicks. Yes, chicks are adorable but you need to establish the difference between meat birds and laying hens. Personally, when I raise laying hens, I talk to them like people and enjoy the whole process from start to finish; it is an enjoyable experience and there’s a connection there that you get to keep each day when you go out to your “girls” to collect eggs. (On a side note, that’s what Jehovah God commissioned us to do in the very beginning: watch over the animals, be fruitful, and multiply. That would have been our jobs, live in a paradise and take care of the animals and the land but Adam rebelled so we inherited sin and death instead)
Meat birds… They really aren’t as sweet. At first, it’s not too bad but towards the end, they just want food and they can get kind of mean. By that, I mean when I went to feed them one afternoon in flip flops, they bit me! I don’t mean a little peck like most chickens, I mean bit me! So one, I learned to wear boots from that point on and I wasn’t completely against butchering to tell you the truth.

It’s honestly like raising milk cows which become part of the family versus feeder steers. Feeder steers.  You just don’t get close to feeder steers, those are the rules. They aren’t pets, their food. Milk cows are pets, put your affection to them, not your steers.

Maisy, my milk cow–feeder steer in background away from everyone

What You’ll Need

  • Brooder box
  • Heat lamps/lights
  • Meat bird feed 22% protein is good
  • The chicks of course (we used cackle hatchery this year)
  • Waterers
  • Pin
  • Shelter
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, optional
  • Colloidal Silver, optional
  • Oregano oil, optional
  • Food container

I should also mention I refuse to medicate my birds. What’s the point in all this if you aren’t going antibiotic free? Anytime I raise chicks meat or laying, I use natural remedies to avoid antibiotics. One of the biggest reasons that people started using medicated feed for chicks was because in the big industrialized chicken farms there were so many that you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones were sick (and coccidiosis was the big issue and spreads to other chickens through feces) so it can get out of hand pretty quickly. Instead of trying to keep track it was better for them to medicate as a safety precaution. All chickens have Coccidian protozoa present in their intestines. The problem is an overgrowth of the protozoa that leads to them getting sick.

As far as a small farm, it doesn’t seem necessary to me. Especially since Apple Cider Vinegar is around; add about 1 TBS to your gallon waterer and you’re all set. Here’s a link to basic use of ACV and here’s one that’s helpful on this particular subject. The last one is a great article that was very helpful in proving what I already knew to be true.

Feeding

Feeding an animal doesn’t seem that complicated but with meat birds you need to pay closer attention. My in laws have been doing this for over 30 years and learned some lessons the hard way, by doing it of course. They have lost a lot of chickens in the past and have perfected it to where they hardly lose any at all now. So, just needs more effort on your part.

  1. Using a preferably 22% protein feed, for 1 week only give them as much as they want, fill in morning and when you are home in the evening
  2. The second week, feed them 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour at night. (The reason you have to take it away is obesity. These birds will eat and eat and eat until they are literally so heavy their legs can’t support them. You have to limit them because you don’t want them to just lay around, they do need to be a bit active and if they can’t walk they can’t make it to water and feed)
  3. Week 3, put food out 24/7. When they start getting bigger you will have to put more food out and they will really start going through it the last two weeks, they are bottomless pits. (Growth time is usually 6-8 weeks)
  4. You’ll need to pick a nice sized bird and weigh, when you reach 7-8 lbs that’s what you’re looking for. That size usually dresses out to 5lbs which you can probably get 2 meals out of depending on your family size. It’s just Jeremy and me here on the homestead so it’s 2 meals

Chicken Massacre Spring 2017  

You’ll need quite a bit of stuff initially but once you have this it can be a once or twice a year thing and can be stored together for later use. I feel like I should also say, you can spend extra money and buy specialty stuff like stainless still but to me, bleaching everything before you start… Seems to do the trick and I’ve never been sick from one of our birds. But this is your choice and I’m mentioning this now because maybe the pics won’t look “professional” but this is what WE do. It’s your call on what YOU do.

FYI

Just something helpful we have learned is to pick your butchering times in spring and the fall so you miss the flies and the heat.

Supplies needed:

  • Two big pots, the size used for frying turkeys
  • Nails
  • Wood stump
  • Baling twine
  • Hooks
  • Feed sacks (plastic ones work best)
  • Orange road cones
  • Outside sinks
  • Running water source
  • Really sharp knives (the best I’ve found is RADA pearing knives you can get one for $5 on Amazon if I remember correctly but you’ll also need a good sharp serrated knife as well and a chef’s knife is always great too)
  • Bleach
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Timer
  • Two thermometers
  • Frozen water bottles
  • Tubs with lids
  • Galvanized steel container
  • Bags
  • Metal ties
  • Pliers
  • Absorbent sheets, optional
  • Cutting boards or what we use which is recycled microwave plates
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves
  • Buckets
  • Plucker (you can rent one or build one)

The process

The night before you need to take the food away from the birds. You don’t want to process a bird and have it full of… Processed and unprocessed food, its gross and smells awful.

The next day, it begins…

First, set up your work area. Each task is a station.

An off-with-their-heads-area-the stump with two nails and axe. You put the chicken through the cone and put its head between nails and pull slightly, aim tour axe and use enough force otherwise… You have to do it twice like Bethany did and it’s not as clean and… Just not great. (There’s another method which involves just hanging bird upside down and cutting jugular but it just wasn’t for us) After this step have the bucket close and transfer to it. Square part of cone holds it in place.

You then need to be able to hang birds to drain, we use Jane’s clothes line post.

Once the bird is completely drained of blood it needs to be dunked in water.

Boiling area-has to be at temperature and you soak holding feet to make sure legs stay under water and after about 45 seconds check to see if feathers pull out really easy.

From the boiling area it goes to the plucker, from the plucker it goes to get the neck and legs removed, then to the processing area, it goes to the check and rinse station.

From the check and rinse it will go into water to soak 2 and 3 at a time and then goes into a big galvanized pot in ice cold water where it will stay until you put about 20 birds in then it goes into tubs with lids and a frozen ice water bottle is put inside the chicken so it freezes as much as possible from the inside. They wait there until it is time for bagging.
With bagging, we form an assembly line at a longer table and one person holds the bag, another tucks the legs and puts the bird in the bag, another twists the bag, one clips the bag, one pokes holes in the bag (so when it shrinks the air gets out that way), one takes and dips 3 at a time in boiling water and the kids that are there are usually the runners. They take them to the freezer.

Put into the cone so it wont bruise and then you transfer to the bucket so it drains and stops jerking after head is removed

 

Draining

Boiling to loosen the feathers

Plucker

About to get legs and neck removed

Processing a bird

Getting rid of the legs and neck and the first soak

After the soak process, into goes into this one for a colder soak

Our sink setup, two sinks are for processing two for check and rinse

Boiling station

Birds stored in tubs with frozen bottles inside

Bagging birds

Adding the clip

Bagged, ready to be dunked

Put in the pot for the dunking to shrink plastic bag to the chicken

Being dunked

Finished product

Keep Your Chickens Warm in Winter

snowchickens

Just to let you know, I feel a little silly writing this because yesterday even though it’s the middle of January, it was 60-70 degrees! BUT a cold front is moving in in a few hours and it’s supposed to go from 55 to 30 and there is a chance of “Ice-mageddon” (That’s what Jeremy keeps calling it) tonight since rain is coming. Depending on the temperature going under 32, it could be good or bad. I guess I shouldn’t feel too silly though because I follow Fresh Eggs Daily on my instagram account and Lisa’s been posting pictures of snow like crazy but she lives in Maine.

So, other than the crazy weather fluctuations of Missouri we should still cover how to care for your chickens during the cold times. First, I’m happy to report, my girls have been laying most of the winter but after doing a little research for Which Chicken Breed Do You Need? article, I learned that Barred Rocks are pretty great little winter birds. Which is AWESOME! I must be doing something right because my mother in law (AKA Superwoman) who has eggs constantly even when it’s cold asked me for 5 dozen eggs to sell and the next day my friend Cindy asked for 5 dozen as well!! I feel pretty good about my little Barred Rocks… THEY ROCK! (Pun intended) Which means I’m supplying my regular customers and Cindy’s. Yay!

Moving on… I’m just going to cover a few basics and hopefully it’s helpful!

Let’s begin with I don’t think you should heat your coop. There is just too much of a chance of a fire and your birds suffering and dying. I’d rather them be a little cold and survive than the other choice. No matter how careful you are, whose to say they won’t knock something over or something like that. I mean, it seems like nature does pretty good for itself. What about the cardinals and other birds flying around. They seem fine in the cold, don’t you think? They don’t have space heaters in their nests? So PLEASE don’t heat your coop.

Deep Litter Method or NOT?

Many people dote on this method. If you’re not aware, basically the floor of your chicken coop becomes a compost pile. As you probably know, compost breaks down organic matter (poop) and brings in bugs to do so, and so forth; it puts out heat. From what I’ve read, people only clean out their coops once a year and apply layers and different things and the chickens scratch around to stir things up and eat bugs in the process. It seems pretty good to me. If you do it right you shouldn’t have the ammonia smell but after reading THIS article…(This website is amazing for chicken info; explore it! Very handy!)

Here’s a snippet, ” The deep litter system might work for you. If you have the proper housing. If you are experienced enough to recognize when it is right and when it isn’t. If you have active, young chickens to do the work. If you know enough to regulate moisture and can judge when to top off the bedding. Don’t jump onto the deep litter bandwagon because it is the trendy thing to do, or because you’ve been told that it’s the best way to be sustainable/organic. It’s one option. It can provide an enriched environment for your hens. But it can also go very, very wrong. As with all animal keeping, pay attention to the individuals under your care. Think critically about the facilities you have. Constantly monitor your flock’s health and behavior. There’s a lot of advice out there and right now, it might seem as if everyone is telling you to switch to deep litter. Heck, I give a lot of advice here on this blog – of course I hope that you’ll agree with me. But, what I’d really like you to do is not to blindly follow what I say, but to listen to your animals. Spend time in the barn with them. Breathe their air. Watch their behavior. Then you’ll make the right decisions for them and yourself.” [1]

What I’ve Been Doing: First off, during the rest of the year when it isn’t cold, I go to our local sawmill and fill empty feed bags full of saw dust and that’s what I use for the coop. During the winter though, I get a square bale of hay or just hay from the pole barn and I put it on the floor in the coop, at least 6 inches worth to cover whole floor. At this point, I also add more hay to my nests as well. Any holes or drafty areas, I add more hay to block it out. At night, I block the little chicken door we cut for them so animals don’t come in and massacre them since in the winter it seems like they are in full force. You might have to clean it out a couple times depending on how much time your chickens spend in there.

The ironic part of your time spent fixing up your coop for make it warm… I did all of the work of trying to make them happy and yet, every night I’d go out there and they’d choose to roost in the trees rather than stay in the coop. I ended up trimming the limbs off my smaller trees because they wouldn’t use the coop! No matter how cold it is, my chickens prefer to be outside. It’s just in their nature. After the removal of limbs they seemed to finally accept roosting in the coop thank goodness!

I’m probably going to stick with what I’ve been doing. Seems kind of chancy to me and since what I do seems to work, why change it? Plus, saw dust is free. I don’t have to buy special bedding it’s all kind of a sustainable kind of process. Hay is free as well since we cut our own hay.

Feed

There seems to be a bit of controversy with what I’m going to suggest next BUT you can go to this forum I found on it and pick your own side! Sounds fair to me. Here is what I do and my chickens seem happy and it’s also what I did last year and all seemed well. During the normal year, I just buy regular old chicken pellet layer feed but when it starts to get cold I get Gamebird Feed and mix it with cracked corn. Gamebird feed has extra protein compared to the regular layer pellets and cracked corn doesn’t have heat value per say but it does help keep the birds warm by the digestion process. The body has to work harder to digest cracked corn vs regular feed which causes the body to put out more heat. That seems to be what my lady at my local MFA says too but you can go read about it in that previously mentioned forum. (Do keep in mind though that they don’t need that much cracked corn, I put their feed out and mix in a little corn. On colder days I’ll scoop out some corn and scatter across the ground for extra. The best way I’ve heard it explained is that candy is to a child like cracked corn is to a chick… They like their crack…hehe)

You can also be feeding your birds extra stuff because their diet changes pretty drastically compared to summer time when they are eating tons of bugs and grass. In winter, most of you grass is dried up and bugs are nonexistent (which was their protein). So you can feed them kitchen scraps and maybe a head of lettuce of something. If I cut up a pineapple i’ll give them the outer shell of it or have left overs from fruit or vegetables I give it to them. You could also buy stuff like meal worms but I don’t. It might seem weird but I also give them raw cow milk occasionally for calcium and fat(I’ve heard pasteurized store bought milk isn’t that great for them though). If I make cheese, I’ll give them the whey for protein, they seem to really love it.

Water (MOST IMPORTANT)

Obviously, everything needs water to survive. I go out several times and break ice for them to drink when it’s freezing temperatures. You could do the heated water thing but I don’t. I don’t have electric anywhere near my coop and I’m okay with breaking the ice.

End Result:

In the end, you need a good shelter that gets them out of the wind. Stop drafts from coming in. You need more than one bird because when they roost they huddle together for warmth. You need good ventilation in your coop for good air quality. Watch out for dampness because that could cause a respiratory infection. Decide on what litter your going to use whether deep litter method or not. Try to feed them greens and decide if you want to add in cracked corn to their diet. They need water. This is what I do, if you don’t choose to that’s fine by me but I still hope maybe you learned something or found parts of this helpful.

(Backstory of the coop: Guess I should also say that my chicken coop is a 8×10 shed that we bought for $100. We occasionally would look around craigslist to see if anything popped up for a coop since what we had was too small for the flock we currently had. That amount of money for a shed was a great buy. We had to drive a bit but we have a flat bed trailer so why not?? It took most of the day but we brought a wench. Halfway up the ramps, we broke said wench… What now, right? I looked around and saw a guy’s house that looked the Tinkering Type and we walked over and asked if he had a wench and he did so he let us borrow it. Partway through the wenching process, he came over to investigate and help. He brought a chain wench that he used to use with his father to pull motors and that helped EVEN MORE. We eventually got it and offered the old man some cash and he refused. Really nice guy, I wish we had butter at the time I would have given him some but we were far from home. Gas mileage wasn’t the greatest but hey, it was cheaper than buying a new shed and the guy had replaced the insides and had the doors rebuilt. When we got home we used the tractor to get it off the trailer into the chicken pin. So worth it!)


Cited Sources

[1] https://hencam.com/henblog/2013/12/why-i-dont-use-deep-litter/

 

Which Chicken Breed Do YOU Need?

chicken-1607408_1920

Yes, I know. A LOT! of people have wrote post after post on which chickens to buy and why and how and…. ETC! Yet, I feel like since this is a homestead blog and I haven’t really included chickens thus far… I’m kind of slacking here. It isn’t that I don’t have chickens; I do, but I feel like I’ve battled getting them for years. I will tell you why but you might think it’s a little childish but HEY I got past it anyway.

So… Growing up I didn’t have the best childhood. I’ve accepted that my mom did the best she could with her inner struggles and dysfunction getting in her way but that’s okay(I’ve moved on). In the past though, I was always so angry and one of those silly little things happened to be against chickens. My mom was obsessed with having chickens. So much so that her kitchen theme was… Roosters and Chickens. I never understood it and actually refused to like them. The only time I supported it was during the holidays or birthday time and (Which I no longer celebrate) I would buy her rooster pictures and whatever else there was!

The stupid part is, because of teen rebellion and what not… Since she loved them, I hated them and wanted no part of it. I spent several years on the homestead refusing to accept chickens being part of the farm but after a while… You want your own eggs and it just makes sense (Sustainability) to have your own way to supply. I fought it for so long but gave in (In 2013 or 14 I think). I started with the Buff Orphington breed which is good to start out with. So now that you know the idiotic back story I’ll get to the point.

I’ve had several breeds since then and also a little experience. I hatched my own chicks this year as well which was a mistake because my mother in law (Who usually raised the meat birds) saw that I could do that so I ended up raising my own meat birds (I’ve processed meat birds since I got with Jeremy in 2011 but never had to raise them) and did pretty well with them. We ordered 25 and they all lived! They grew fast and no antibiotics whatsoever. I wanted to use Non-GMO feed but the price tag on that was CRAZY! so I didn’t do it but healthier than store bought and you know where they came from not to mention sustainability kinda thing 🙂

Now that I have the experience, I want to fine tune the operation 🙂 I currently have Barred Rocks which have great personalities. Looking at information from Cackle Hatchery and having a few, I really like the Cinnamon Queens and Golden Comets. They aren’t a dual purpose bird but the fact that we raise meat birds twice a year… I don’t really require dual purpose, I just want more egg production and since they are a hybrid that have fast body development, fast egg production, and start laying sooner than standard breeds… Seems like a winner to me. Plus, I had three this year and they have the BEST personality, very friendly and personable. I’m actually kind of irritated because I had one left that I named Queenie and a skunk got into my pen and killed her last week– but he no longer exists.

Back to the point–Keeping old birds; I tried it but after about 2 years they just start slacking off and to me, it’s wasting chicken feed on them so let’s say: If you buy chickens this year in February then they should be laying in August so in a year and a half which would be that next August, you would sell those and have your new ones (If you get some every Feb in continuous cycle or hatch out every Feb, either way) laying at that point. People will pay for year and half old hens because they still qualify as young birds and will be laying too. This way, you should constantly have chickens laying; depending on weather of course. Here’s what the hatchery recommends: “Six months – eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year the hens usually lay a little bigger egg however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth year can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps disease issue down. So one might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets keeping a diversified laying cycle going giving you the best chance at averaging/even the eggs per week you get. Generally in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time”

Also, the easiest way to keep track which I’m going to start doing as well is to keep a livestock journal. I’ll add in a link to a more detailed post that I read from Homesteading.com that is exactly what I’m going to do. If you don’t want to just buy a different breed every year so you can tell the difference.

So that’s what breed is for me and my current plan. BUT what chicken breed would best suit you? What are you needs and requirements of chickens? Do you need a rooster? Do you want more egg production? Do you want dual purpose? Do you want them for just the meat? Do you want different colored eggs? White or brown? Kid friendly? Just for pets? Is it worth it?

I’m sure you can all come up with more questions or have more (Which feel free to comment if so) but let’s look at a few breeds and characteristics. I’m not covering all breeds but we’ll pick a few. I don’t think I need to go too in depth since there is this thing called the internet and you have two hands with which you type a word and push enter and PING! Information is freely given! AMAZING 😉 So we’ll do breed name, purpose, egg amount, color, personality or qualities.

I don’t know if I’ll get to all questions but as far as Roosters go they aren’t necessary for egg laying production. They are necessary for egg fertilization if you want to hatch/incubate eggs. Also, if you can get a good rooster with a good personality they do take care of your girls. Usually the ratio is 1 Rooster to 10 hens and they usually offer them some good protection.

FYI: As far as egg production goes, I was getting most of my information from cackle hatchery but the numbers seem REALLY low compared to other online sources so I’ll list their number and another as well.

Rhode Island Red

Dual purpose bird, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr (Cackle Hatchery) 200-300/yr (American Homestead Institute)

“They are a popular chicken choice for backyard chicken flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. Rhode Island Red chicks are a good choice for raising baby chickens naturally and raising baby chickens for eggs.” [6]

Barred Rock

Barred rocks are a color from the Plymouth Barred Rocks, Dual purpose, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr (Cackle Hatchery), Because of its many good qualities – tasty meat, good egg production, resistance to cold, early feathering, easy management, good sitting – the Plymouth Rock became the most widespread chicken breed in the United States until the time of World War II [1]

Cinnamon Queen

Cross between and Rhode Island Red Rooster and Rhode Island White Hen (Hybrid), Light Brown Eggs, 250-320/yr (Cackle Hatchery)

“The Cinnamon Queens are one of two modern day production brown egg laying strains from hybrid breeding that produce fast body development, fast egg production and rich brown egg shell color. These strains will start to lay eggs at a younger age than most standard breeds and produce big large/extra large brown eggs.” [2]

Buff Orphington (Known as the Golden Retrievers of the chicken breeds)

Dual Purpose Bird, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr

“These ‘Golden Chicken Beauties’ are a large, stately chicken with a quiet disposition. Buff Orpington chickens are one of the best chickens for eggs and for meat. They are white skinned, plump, and juicy for a great dressed out chicken.  Many will put their 2 year old chickens in the stew pot and retain the 1 year old hens for laying eggs. Then buy more baby chicks to keep the cycle going. This accomplishes the most efficient cost to feed ratio to raise chickens. Most chicken breed charts will list the Buff Orpington chicken as a dual purpose bird that lay a medium brown egg. Even though the Buff Orpington chicken is a very heavy and large bird, this does not always mean the bigger the hen the larger the egg. Buff Orpingtons make excellent broody mothers for baby chicks.” [5]

I can say I don’t interact with my chickens like a kid would but I do talk to them like I would a pet dog or cat. I did have one that I aptly named Sweetie because she followed me everywhere and would kind of hop up on my leg if I was on the ground or squatted down. She liked attention but I think with most anything you raise; if you interact and you actually raised them as babies and didn’t just buy them as adults they tend to develop a trust with you. Plus, if you’re the one feeding them… They also like you for that 🙂

Black Australorp

Black Australorps are a color from the Australorps whose origin is Australia the only colors in America seem to be the Black ones, Dual purpose bird, Light Brown Eggs

*Interesting fact about them is in the 1920s they set a world record with their egg production without the modern use of a shed. Australorps lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year. A new record was set when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days. They are also known to be good nest sitters and mothers, making them one of the most exceptional large, heritage utility breeds of chicken.

Araucana

Eggs and Ornamental (Read somewhere that they are supposed to resemble quail in taste), Green\Blue\Pink Eggs, 200-280/yr

These birds are the craziest, squawkiest, loudest birds if they don’t want to be messed with but they are wiry and take good care of themselves plus mine lays me a blue egg, which is so pretty. Believe it or not, they are really good layers (At least they were on my farm) my current Araucana is 4?? She’s still going strong. I named her Bird Bird.

White Leghorns (I figured I should include at least one white egg layer)

Egg Laying Production,Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, laying an average of 280 per year and sometimes reaching 300–320

Originated from Italy, “very athletic, hardy, non-sitters and lay very nice large/X large white eggs. They have a good feed-to-egg conversion ratio, needing around 125 grams per day of feed. This chicken breed is great for free range chicken farming or organic free range chicken eggs.  Leghorns rarely exhibit broodiness and are thus well suited for uninterrupted egg laying. The Leghorn is a light breed that matures quickly and is not considered a viable meat producer. Leghorns are active and efficient foragers and are one of the best for free range chickens that can avoid predators” [4]


 

So, in giving you all this information I still have to say: Chickens are kind of like humans, depending on environment, good health, stress, etc–they are different. No matter how much information you seem to get, learning is the best info you’re gonna have.

To prove my point, here is what a hatchery has on their FAQ page: “Egg Production
Egg production can vary from one person’s experience to another person’s experience. The differences can be many and wide. Variables can include and not exclusive to: history of sickness, wormy, care, lighting, climate, geographic location, housing condition, crowding, feed consumptions, water conditions and consumptions, nutritional care, bedding, sunlight availability, number of cockerels with the flock, noise condition, nesting conditions, roosting conditions, winter housing conditions, summer housing conditions, predator harassment, whether or not you are breaking up setting hens and other conditions. Six months – eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year the hens usually lay a little bigger egg however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth year can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps disease issue down. So one might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets keeping a diversified laying cycle going giving you the best chance at averaging/even the eggs per week you get. Generally in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time.” [3}

For example, I did my research and wanted Black Australorps but when I went to the feed store they were sold out and I wasn’t prepared to get a different breed so I winged it and got Buff Orphingtons and thought they were the best after researching them but my opinion now is if you have kids and they want chickens or whatever, get Buffs. For egg production they are kind of flaky.

Well, I didn’t cover ALL laying breeds but this is a LONG post so I’ll stop here! Hope the information is some what helpful guys!!

 

EXTRA INFO

By the way, any information that I don’t know about chickens… I love Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele, head there for what I don’t cover, she’s great! I especially like following her on Instagram. If you ever have questions concerning chickens Backyard Chickens is a pretty good forum to find the answers.

 


Sources Cited

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Rock_chicken

[2] https://www.farmandfleet.com/blog/guide-chicken-breeds/

[3]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/index.php/faqs/#Egg%20Production

[4]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/white-leghorn.html#product_tabs_description_tabbed

[5]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/buff-orpington.html#product_tabs_description_tabbed

[6]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/rhode-island-reds.html