Tired of High Egg Prices? Raise Chickens
I am a huge advocate for raising your own of anything.
We got this 👉👈 close to running out of eggs in December 2022. We installed a light on a timer to give the hens four more extra hours of light. Within a week they were laying again.
Chicken feed has gone up a little, but eggs are over the roof. Organic eggs? Add another few dollars.
This year I'm incubating eggs to sell the chicks. I imagine other people are probably tired of paying exorbitant prices and might want to try their hand at raising their own chickens.
It's really not difficult. It's even easier if you're only interested in getting eggs.
Worried you have too small a yard? Chickens are good neighbors. Hens are relatively quiet with only a little excited clucking when they've found a particularly good morsel.
Roosters are a nuisance unless you allow your chickens to free range. A good rooster will protect his hens and guide them away from danger. He's noisy though, so I don't recommend them unless you intend to incubate your own eggs.
If chickens are allowed to roam your backyard, a small coop is more than adequate. You want a coop that gives each chicken three square feet to herself. (2 sq ft. if you opt for smaller chicken breeds.)
The sturdiness of your coop depends on several things.
- The number of predators in your area.
- Your climate.
- How long you intend to keep chickens. If you think it's just a passing fancy, buy a ready-made coop. They're pretty, but not as sturdy as what you can have custom made.
Whatever you decide, all hens do need some shelter when the weather is bad. A nice coop with nests will also encourage them to lay their eggs inside and not send you on an egg hunt every day.
There are all sorts of guidelines on what to feed a chicken.
If you want truly organic eggs, you let them free range. If you don't want them wandering but still want organic, there is very pricey organic commercial feed on the market.
Or you can do what I do and feed regular commercial feed and supplement with scraps, weeds and every damn tomato worm and grub. My chickens come running when they know I've been in the garden.
You need some sort of bedding in their coop. It will keep the coop smelling better and it's easier to clean up.
I used to use cheap hay, but I've found wood chips decompose slower thereby keeping the bedding from smelling. The price is almost identical.
By the way, a concrete floor is far superior to wood or dirt. If you think you might want to move the coop in the future, use cement blocks.
There are so many to choose from. If you want docile, high egg producing hens, I really like the Americauna or Australorp. White leghorn are probably the most prolific layers but they tend to get agitated easily.
There are also the bantam sized chickens. Cute as a button, but they lay tiny eggs.
Raise them by hand and they double as pets and egg producers.
Chickens will lay 9-10 months after they're born.
Only hens lay eggs. And you do not need a rooster. Hens will lay whether they have a paramour or not.
Hens produce the most eggs in their first two years. After that their eggs get larger but they're not as prolific. I don't mind keeping my hens 5-6 years. They're generally more self sufficient and less skittish than the younger girls.
The healthiest eggs come from free range chickens. Mine lay eggs with yolks that are deep orange. Generally, the more diverse their diet, the more orange the yolk.
Every flock has a pecking order. They figure it out pretty quickly. Generally, there's a lot of squawking for the first day or two and then each knows where they belong.
Most chickens can fly. They like to fly up to roosts or short tree limbs. If you want to discourage this, simply clip their wings on one side only. It will prevent them from flying. If they free range, do not clip wings. You want them to escape their predators.
Chickens have poor night vision. If you want to move a chicken, do it at night. They hardly make a fuss.
Don't be concerned if they wallow out a little hole in the ground and give themselves a dust bath. This is their way of grooming and deterring parasites.
Are raising chickens a good idea?
If you've got a little space, feed a lot of mouths, bake, or want true organic food, hens are the way to go.
Adult hens bring you eggs right away, but expect to pay anywhere from $15-$20 per bird.
If you can wait nine months, you can buy chicks for about $3-$5 each. The problem is you don't know whether you're getting males or females.
On the pro side, with hand raising they can be quite docile and friendly. They really do make nice pets.
It's a great family project and a good way to get kids involved while learning responsibility.
What if you still need eggs but don't want to raise chickens?
For baking, there are a few substitutions. Things like mashed banana or applesauce will change the flavor profile but there are other binders that are less flavor intrusive.
- 1/4 cup Carbonated water = 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (which is nothing more than the liquid from cooked chickpeas) = 1 egg
- 1/4 cup buttermilk = 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg
- Pumpkin puree, mashed banana, or applesauce: Use 1/4 cup of any of these ingredients to equal 1 egg
Be aware that most of these substitutions require a leavening agent to work properly.
There are also ready made egg replacement products for baking like the ones below. The first two are vegan and not made from real eggs. The last three are whole powdered eggs.
Powdered or liquified eggs are your only choices for real eggs for eating.
Like all dehydrated products they have a long shelf life. Once you open the container it only lasts a year so repackage and vacuum seal it into smaller quantities to continue its long lifespan.
How much are eggs by you?