I have to admit it – I’m somewhat of a chicken hoarder! In recent months, I’ve realized that I can’t resist when someone mentions they have a hen or two looking for a new home. But how many chickens do I need to keep us supplied with eggs? Is it a big problem if we have more chickens than we need?
Let’s explore these questions – so you can choose the perfectly-sized flock!
- How Many Chickens Do I Need?
- Surplus Eggs
- How Many Chickens Should a Beginner Start With?
How Many Chickens Do I Need?
Most homesteaders starting with a backyard flock get three or four hens to start. This moderate flock size provides a steady supply of eggs (around 600 to 800 yearly eggs) while you learn the poultry husbandry ropes.
Ideally, you should have just enough hens to produce enough eggs for your family, with maybe a few spare to pass on to friends and neighbors. Too many chickens might not sound like a bad thing. But a large flock can bring many more problems with it. (Like more pests, diseases, chicken bullying, and higher feed costs!)
|Family Size||Recommended Chickens||Yearly Eggs|
|1-3||3-4||600 – 800|
|4-5||4-7||800 – 1,400|
|6-7||7-9||1,400 – 1,800|
The above chart assumes your hens will only lay around 200 yearly eggs, which is a tad low for some chicken breeds. So – this chart is on the conservative side. You might get more or fewer eggs depending on the hen’s breed, health, age, and other factors.
There are also a few more chicken-raising nuances to consider when calculating how many hens you need for consistent eggs.
Consider the following.
Calculating How Many Chickens You Need
When calculating the ideal size of a backyard flock of chickens, there are a few factors you should take into account.
How many eggs does your household eat per week? This one is easy to figure out. Consider how many eggs you usually buy from the grocery store each week. It is a good idea to round this figure up a little, as you’ll find that homegrown eggs tend to get eaten far more enthusiastically than those from the shop.
(Our small family eats approximately one dozen eggs per week. That means we eat around 600 eggs per year! So – a flock size of three or four is perfect for us.)
Chicken Breed and Laying Habits
What breed of chicken do you plan on getting? And how many eggs will they lay per week?
Contrary to popular opinion, chickens do not lay an egg every day. Even the most productive commercially-reared hybrid chickens will only lay 5-6 eggs per week, and most backyard heritage breeds lay less than this.
In terms of egg production, the Rhode Island Reds can produce up to 300 eggs per year, making it a popular choice for homesteaders. Black Australorp and Plymouth Rock come a close second with 250 eggs per year, while Brahma and Buff Orpingtons will lay around 200 eggs yearly.
|Chicken Breed||Yearly Eggs||Weekly Eggs|
|Rhode Island Red||250||4.8|
As you can see from the table above – the number of eggs each breed has varies. Big time! That’s why we say it’s critical to consider your chicken breed when calculating how many hens you need for consistent eggs.
How Will You Use the Chickens?
Do you want to rear chicks? Or are you just planning on keeping hens for eggs?
It is inevitable that, at some point, one of your hens will go broody. But do you let your chooks raise a clutch of chicks or not?
Newly hatched chicks are among the most adorable creatures known to farmers and homesteaders. But a mother hen will not be part of your egg-production team for at least three months. It will take three weeks for the eggs to hatch. And then another four to eight weeks before she starts to lay again.
Of course, some of your baby chicks could become future egg layers, boosting your egg production. But it is vital to have a plan for any roosters that may hatch, as more than one rooster can be very detrimental to the harmony of your flock.
Chicken Coop Lodging and Space Availability
How much room do you have available for chickens?
Hens need the freedom to roam, forage, and explore. They also require a large enough space to promote a comfortable lifestyle – which helps prevent bullying and feather pecking. Unhappy hens will not produce as many eggs, so there is no point in overstocking your chicken accommodation.
The recommended space per chicken is 3-5 square feet in the coop and 10 square feet of outdoor space. The number of egg-laying chickens you can keep may also be limited by local authority regulations, especially if you live in an urban area.
Do you have a way to use up surplus eggs? In my eyes, lots of eggs should never be a problem! They are a great source of inexpensive protein, saving us a boatload of money at the grocery store. Eggs are one of the only foods perfect for eating at any time of day. Fresh backyard eggs also make excellent desserts!
But if you get to the point where you’ve got more eggs than you can handle, make sure you’ve got a plan to deal with them. We like to swap and barter our surplus eggs or give them away as gifts to friends and neighbors. One day, we might sell our excess eggs, but various local regulations must be complied with first.
How Many Eggs Will 1 Chicken Lay a Day?
Chickens will lay an egg most days, but never every day. Consider an average backyard chicken, such as the Barred Plymouth Rock. These birds will lay around 250 eggs per year. Two hundred and fifty yearly eggs equate to roughly five eggs per week, with two days off for good behavior!
How Many Chickens Do You Need for Daily Eggs?
Three or four hens will usually ensure daily eggs. But – it is hard to guarantee daily eggs no matter how many hens you have. Recently, our flock of eight all took the same day off, and we had no eggs whatsoever that day! Luckily, fresh eggs store well for several weeks, so we’ve always got a stockpile to fall back on.
A simple way to calculate how many hens you need is to get three birds for every two people in your household – or 1.5 chickens per person. Stick to this ration for at least one egg every day, two eggs most days, and occasionally three!
How Many Chickens Do You Need for a Family of 4?
4 – 6 hens is an excellent starting point for a four-person household. Go for a reliable egg-producing backyard breed such as Plymouth Rocks or Australorps, and you’ll be guaranteed a steady supply of fresh eggs for your pantry.
How Many Chickens Should a Beginner Start With?
If you are new to chicken keeping, it is best to start small. A manageable flock of 3 – 6 hens will allow you the time to get to know their quirks and behaviors. And also reduce the risk of bullying within your backyard flock. Novice poultry keepers should avoid getting a rooster, as these add a new dimension to rearing chickens!
Can a Single Chicken Live Alone?
Chickens are social animals who constantly communicate with their feathered friends. So – it is not wise to keep a single chicken alone, as she may become depressed and develop behavioral problems such as feather plucking. I only isolate a chicken from the flock when she is sick or broody.
Is It Okay to Keep Just 2 Chickens?
It is acceptable to keep two chickens together. But it is probably a good idea to get three if you can. If one chicken gets sick or passes away, the remaining hen will get lonely until you can get a replacement.
101 Chicken Keeping Hacks by Lisa Steele is the ultimate reference for homesteaders raising backyard chickens. The book features over one hundred little-known chicken-raising insights, like keeping your flock happy and healthy, making homemade chicken scratch, and keeping your coop clean naturally. You’ll also discover a nifty way to make DIY chicken coop curtains. Plus – tons more!
How Many Eggs Will 2 Chickens Lay?
Two hens could lay between 400 and 500 eggs per year between them, giving you around seven to ten eggs per week. It also depends on the chicken breed. Some chickens are far more prolific egg layers than others. But – 4 to 500 yearly eggs is a good rule of thumb for two hens.
Is 5 Chickens Enough?
Five chickens is a nice-sized flock for an average family, and this number of hens should generally get on pretty well with each other. A backyard flock of five chickens will need around 20 square feet of indoor space (a 4′ x 5′ chicken coop) and at least 50 square feet of floor space outdoors (a 5′ x 10′ run).
How Many Eggs Will 5 Chickens Lay a Week?
If you’re sticking to reliable backyard breeds such as Plymouth Rocks, expect to get around 25 eggs per week from five chickens.
Is 8 Chickens Too Many?
Eight chickens are not necessarily too many. But starting with a smaller flock is likely better if you are a novice backyard chicken keeper. As flock sizes increase, so do problems such as bullying and feather pecking. You must provide an adequate space for each hen to scratch, frolic, explore, forage, and roost. They also need multiple food and water stations.
How Many Eggs Will 10 Chickens Lay a Day?
You can expect six or seven eggs daily from a backyard flock of ten chickens. There will be seasonal fluctuations in this amount – like during the molting season when egg production slows considerably.
Thanks for reading our guide about planning the perfect chicken flock size for you and your family.
Knowing how many eggs to expect per chicken is tricky. We hope our guide helps!
We also leave you with a few chicken-egg requirement questions to ponder.
- How many chicken eggs do you eat per day?
- Does your family love eating eggs, too? How many eggs does your household eat each week?
- Have you ever raised backyard chickens?
- If so – what chicken breed were they? And how many eggs per week did they lay?
We’re diehard chicken-raising advocates – and hope to hear from you.
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!