Which laying hens are the best producers?

Discussion in 'Hunting & Fishing' started by wvangel1960, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. wvangel1960

    wvangel1960 Member

    I am just starting out raising chickens, I have the pen ready and am wondering if any one has had better luck with a certain type of chicken. I have read up on the subject like keeping them calm and there food sources, just wanted to see if there is a better breed than others to start out with, we have a large family and we eat a good many eggs,plus baking so how many chickens should I start out with?:)
  2. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    There is a great website to get you started with: Egg Laying Chickens for Fun & Profit

    For a small yard with chickens in the city, you need to make sure that your neighbors don't mind a small flock (probably keep it under 5 chickens total). If you are on an acreage and you only want to feed your family - I probably wouldn't go more than a dozen chickens.

    Depending on the age of the chicken and breed, you can expect upto 2 eggs per chicken per day with some days no eggs being laid and other days only one being laid.

    The first "year" of a chickens productive time (from about 6 months old) will have the greatest number of eggs laid and it will slowly decline till they are about 6 years old.

    When you look to buy your chickens, because of breeding, you will need to decide if you want egg producers or meat producers. Both styles of breeds can be used either way, but, you will be happier with the eggs produced by the egg-producers and the meat by the meat-chickens.

    One of the oldest and best sources for chickens (that I found) can be found online at: McMurray Hatchery

    On their site, you will be able to learn more about the birds and can go over all the choices.

  3. Homestead Gal

    Homestead Gal Proverbs31Woman

    Homestead Chickens

    I grew up with parents who had a commercial egg farm with thousands of laying hens. Both my grandparents had assorted "mutt chickens' that produced both eggs and meat for the table. I know that the chickens they raised had both Leghorn and Rhode Island Red mixed in them. I don't remember too much about the chickens except how good they tasted!

    We just started our homestead flock and purchased Welsummer chickens. They are now 6 weeks old and very healthy. They lay dark brown eggs and their adverage egg production is 3 to 5 eggs a week per hen. You will find that a multpurpose chicken doesn't lay quite as frequently and they grow a bit more slowly then a meat type chicken.

    I did a lot of research on heritage breeds prior to choosing Welsummers. I chose them for several reasons:

    They are a heritage breed that is in danger of dying out.
    They are excellent foragers which will cut down on my feed bill.
    They are alert and active but still friendly and easily handled.
    Their coloring makes it harder for predators to find them.
    Their eggs are a dark brown which are highly marketable in our area.

    I also bought a "mutt hen and her 6 chicks" so that I was guaranteed a broody hen to set my Welsummer eggs. I found her on Craigslist for a great price. If you are planning on raising chickens it is worth it to have at least one broody hen to put eggs under. Incubators are nice but, they don't work if you don't have electricity.

    One of the main reasons I bought a "settin hen" is a number of my neighbors complain that their chickens don't brood. All of them bought their flocks from a hatchery. We've come to the decision that a chick learns this from its momma. There are also some chickens that the maternal instincts have been practically bred out of them. I wanted to insure that we had a broody hen that could do the job just in case my hatchery hens wouldn't brood a clutch of eggs. My hope is that a few of the Welsummer chicks Momma hatches will grow up and brood chicks also.

    I agree with NaeKid that McMurry Hatchery is a great place to buy chicks. I haven't used them myself (wish I had) and their website has great info. and pics of a broad variety of chickens.
  4. SurvivalNut

    SurvivalNut Retired Army

    I have found that everyone falls in love with a particular breed and so do I.

    My checklist was a good layer, (ice) cold weather hardy, pasture happy and large meat bird so I chose Buff Orphingtons. They are pretty but not beautiful. I stay pure with the breed. If I were to start over I might try Australorps.

    Buffs are not good setters, once in a while one of mine will go broody so I take the time to raise a few replacements, while they are friendly to chicks and assimilate well, I have to work harder to breed them (incubator).

    The same breed may work a little different in different areas due to weather, forage, etc.

    I don't adopt birds, just to keep diseases out of my pens.

    Hens are loving and forgiving. I bought a nice plan and built a coop. I wish I would have built a temporary coop, because now with experience I am doubling the size with a new coop 2 years later because they are so easy to care for.
  5. Riverdale

    Riverdale Well-Known Member

    Depending on where you are at-

    I live in Michigan, and our flock has consisted of RIR's, ISA Brown (a RIR x), Austrolopes, Barred Rocks and Leghorns.

    The RIR's and Leghorns are the most consistant producers, followed by the the ISAs.
  6. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    Once your pullets are old enough to lay (several months from teh fluffy chick phase) you will get an egg a day from each hen. This will continue as long as they have 12 hours of light, sufficient feed and water, and are not traumatized by something like a predator attack or freezing to death. If you do not give them artificial light they will stop laying when the daylight gets short. When the hen gets 3 or 4 years old she'll slow down to an egg every other day, or every third day etc. By the time they are 6 or 7 years old they will lay about twice a week.

    Half your hatchings will be female, half will be male. Plan your number to raise based on how many laying hens you want to keep, then eat the rest.
  7. Clarice

    Clarice Well-Known Member

    We alway get the Red Star or Black Star also known as Sex Link. They are a lighter weight chicken that doesn't take as much feed and lays large brown eggs every day for 3 years. You may want to get a heavier chicken but you will use more feed and still get only 1 egg a day.
  8. dawnwinds58

    dawnwinds58 The Kentucky Lairkeeper

    Fav Chickens

    Another vote for Buff Orpingtons. I keep them pure with only Buff roosters in the flock. Also have Australorps, but those tend to hatch identifiable like a sex link when bred to the Buff. It's the Australorps who hatch my eggs. I let one go broody, then replace her eggs with the pure Buff's eggs. No incubator, no brooder, no effort. Both are great dual purpose birds, for the most part gentle, do need a good protein feed for their size. Honestly, every so often, I offer them dry catfood in high protein. When they stop eating it all quickly, I go back to the layer mix till they start plucking at each other, then they get more catfood.
  9. Daegnus

    Daegnus Active Member

    If you buy your chicks from McMurray Hatchery you can choose whether you want males or females, the females are almost always more expensive, in most cases, males are euthanized almost immediately after hatching due to the lack of need for them. Even so, plan on there being 1 or 2 males per 50 females you purchase, its damn hard to accurately identify sex on hatchlings.

    I had the best success getting one of McMurray's heritage mixes for my laying hens. You don't have to worry about disease and bug problems that you would have in "monoculture" situations where you only have one breed, AND you're preserving the genetic heritage of a few breeds.

    That being said, my best egg producers were the Rhode Island Reds and the Leghorns. The Leghorns also make a nice meat bird. My favorite meat bird by far is the Barred Rock.
  10. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    these guys have a good e-newsletter

    Chicken Keeping Secrets - How To Keep Chickens at Home


    if you want HIGH protein 'renewable food supplements' ;) for chickens check out

    Ghann's Cricket Farm :: Ghann's - Live Crickets, Mealworms, Superworms

    IMHO the 5/8 crickets are the best buy because they are the largest size before the price goes up

    once you see the long 'stick' (it is an ovipositor) come out of the backside you know that is a female & she is ready to lay eggs
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  11. brucehylton

    brucehylton Well-Known Member

    My favorite meat bird is a Fat one.:)