85: 5 Common Mistakes When Choosing Egg Bird Breeds
A Farmish Kind of Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.
I think we can all agree that chickens are great. And while some people get chickens simply because chickens are awesome, today I want to talk specifically about getting chickens for the purpose of laying eggs. There are several things to consider when choosing what kind of egg birds to get! Let’s talk about 5 common mistakes people make when choosing which egg bird breeds to bring to their homestead.
*Hear this blog post as a podcast episode by pressing the triangle play button near the top of this post!*
1. Don’t choose an egg bird because the breed is “cute”.
Or beautiful. Or trendy. Just because the breed looks good on Instagram doesn’t mean it’s going to be what you want for your homestead. Many years ago, before we were at the farm, I decided at one point I wanted Silkies—because Silkies are cute and fuzzy and basically a cross between a bunny and a chicken, right? However, Silkies don’t lay a ton of eggs, the eggs they do lay are small, and it takes them longer than most chickens to even start laying.
A couple years ago we were due to replace our flock of laying hens, and since Brahmas were taking the internet by storm (thanks to a video of an enormous Brahma rooster…) I decided that Brahmas were what I wanted. However, I once again failed to fully research the breed and we ended up short of the eggs we were hoping for from the amount of chickens we were feeding.
2. Don’t decide on a certain breed of laying hen for their supposed “personality”.
Everyone claims that Buff Orpingtons are a calm, friendly, and social breed—so that was one of the breeds we started with many years ago.
We must have got a bum flock, because our Buff Orpingtons were anything but calm, friendly, and social.
Be careful when people describe an entire breed based on personality. A breed may tend towards certain behavior, but individual chickens may vary. I would be more apt to choose a breed on how likely they are to sit on eggs or how long it takes them to start laying than how likely they may be to take a treat from my hand.
3. Don’t fail to consider where you live.
There are chickens that tolerate heat much better than they tolerate cold, and vice versa. There are chickens who are better suited for free ranging and foraging than others. Again, it’s a “generalization”, but certainly something to consider. Look at the climate you live in, as well as how your property is laid out for feeding, and take those things into consideration when choosing the best egg bird breed for your homestead.
4. Don’t overlook how many eggs the breed actually lays.
How many eggs does your family need? Are you selling eggs to family/friends/neighbors? How many eggs are you hoping to get per week?
There is a lot of math involved in getting chickens, and one of the most important is to know that different breeds lay different amounts per year. If you want a lot of eggs, check out breeds like Leghorns, California Whites, or Barred Rock (as well as many others). Conversely, if you don’t want/need a lot of eggs, keep in mind that you probably don’t want a coop of 25 of these hens—or you will quickly become overwhelmed (or need to find more egg customers!)
Likewise, if you do want a lot of eggs, make sure the egg breeds you’re choosing lay a lot of eggs. If you’re hoping for dozens and dozens a week, you’re going to need quite a few Brahmas or Silkies (for instance) to make that happen.
Remember to compare stats among hatcheries and in articles that fellow backyard chicken mamas and papas have written. Take into consideration that while some hatcheries may state a certain breed lays a certain number of eggs per year, actual homestead stats may differ. Do your research.
Note: For those of you who want a whole rainbow of egg colors to do “eggscape pictures”, understand that some of those beautiful egg colors come from chickens who don’t lay very often at all. While there is nothing wrong with various colors of eggs, keep in mind that the neat colors may be more like glitter sprinkled among your flock instead of the basis for your operation.
5. Don’t forget that baby chicks grow up…
Baby chicks are adorable. But they grow up. Aside from being real about how many eggs you’re going to end up with, understand what you’re getting into with having a lot of birds. Some things to consider:
Do you have the space?
Do you understand how much feed they will require?
What will you do with extra roosters? Keep in mind that some of those fancier breeds are only sold as a straight run (a mix of males and females)—and even if you order only hens, goof-ups happen.
Do you have the space to separate chickens/flocks/mean/sick birds?
If you plan to keep roosters, do you have enough roosters for the number of hens you have?
So many things to think about when choosing a breed of egg birds!
Keeping chickens is fun, and having your own supply of eggs right outside in the coop is a great step towards self-reliance. But keep these common mistakes in mind so you don’t make them when you’re choosing which egg birds to bring to your homestead!
Links Mentioned in Episode 85
Living Free in Tennessee YouTube Channel
GOOGLE PLAY, PLAYERFM, OR OTHER POPULAR PODCAST PLAYERS.
ALL EPISODES OF THE PODCAST ARE ALSO LINKED
UNDER THE PODCAST TAB IN MY MENU BAR.