How Many Chickens Should I Keep?
Many people keep chickens to collect their daily amount of fresh eggs and dispose of kitchen leftovers. Chickens are sociable animals and need company. You should also consider how many chickens to keep to provide a steady supply of eggs.
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How Many Chickens Should You Get?
Chickens are sociable animals and need company. Never keep just one chicken, as she will be lonely and unhappy. A general rule is to keep at least three chickens. That way, they always have company, even if one is in the nesting box or sick.
If you want to keep chickens for a nice amount of fresh eggs, we recommend keeping at least three to six chickens. Also, be sure to consider the breed or type of chicken you want to keep, as some chickens lay almost daily and others only twice a week.
On average, a chicken lays two to three eggs a week. If you keep six hens, you can collect at least 12 to 18 eggs a week. If you keep laying hens like the ISA Brown or the Leghorn, you’ll even collect much more!
Some chickens will lay up to one egg per day and, on rare occasions, even two eggs daily.
Do Chickens Get Lonely?
Yes. Chickens are group animals and need the company of others to feel healthy and happy. They become lonely and unhappy without company and may even stop producing eggs. Therefore, keep a minimum of three chickens in your flock. That way, they will always have company while free-ranging.
Have you had a death or predator attack in your flock, and only one chicken remains? Give it a new garden companion as soon as possible. Preferably introduce the new chicken(s) at night or dusk. Chickens can’t see well, and this way, they can get used to each other’s scent beforehand.
How Many Chickens to Keep to Supply Your Family with Eggs?
Since a chicken lays an average of two to three eggs per week, a flock of four to six hens will suffice to provide eggs for a family consisting of four people. Remember that many breeds temporarily lay less during the winter or stop egg production completely for a while.
Always make sure you can offer your chickens plenty of space.
Compose your flock
If you want to keep chickens to collect fresh eggs daily, we recommend a mixed flock of very good layers and slightly less good laying hens. That way, you can be sure of a minimum of eggs even during winter.
Keep in mind to only mix breeds that match in character. Combining dominant breeds with gentle, sweet breeds is asking for trouble. Here the breeder can help you; always ask for advice when in doubt or consult our breeds guide.
Laying chickens like the Leghorn or ISA Brown are very popular in the US, and lay up to 6 eggs per week. These chickens are also resistant to cold temperatures and usually continue to lay in winter.
However, these birds do not look very special. A Leghorn or hybrid chicken looks exactly what you would expect a chicken to look like. However, you can add other breeds to your flock, many of which also lay well and have a distinctive appearance.
An Orpington, for example, is a good egg layer and will continue to lay during the winter. They are extremely sweet and friendly and do very well with families with children.
Or why not choose a breed that lays colored eggs? Chickens like the Araucana, Olive Eggers, or a Cream Legbar are more than decent egg layers and will bring color to your egg basket.
In addition to regular laying hens and hybrid chickens, you can keep chickens that look unusual but bring fewer eggs. A Silkie is a well-known example. This breed does very well with children because they are enormously cuddly and sweet. But they are not the best laying breed and lay around 100 eggs a year. They also go broody very often.
Another example is the Polish chicken, also a very desirable breed among families with children. Polish chickens are very sweet chickens, although they can be skittish at times. They lay around three eggs a week but will not lay during the winter.
An original and cuddly chicken is the Belgian Bearded D’Uccle Bantam. The millefleur D’Uccle Bantam is enormously popular because of its unique appearance. They lay up to three small eggs per week.
Chickens are sociable animals and do not like to be alone. A ground rule is to keep at least three chickens and never fewer than two.
Since a chicken lays an average of two to three eggs per week, a flock of four to six chickens will suffice to provide eggs for a family consisting of four people. If you choose laying hens or hybrid chickens, you will have at least four to five eggs per week.