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Backyard Chickens for Self Sufficiency

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Backyard Chickens for Self Sufficiency:

We didn’t realize how dependent we are on markets and shops until the beginning of 2020, when a global pandemic caught the entire world off guard. The basic supplies like food and hygiene products suddenly became unavailable or challenging to find.

Even if the markets have a full assortment to offer, grocery shopping involves waiting in lines, keeping social distancing, taking hours to get inside the store, and risking health in the process. Online shopping became a safe alternative, but that often takes several days for delivery.

Coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call for the global population. We became aware of the need to be self-sufficient and independent. Many people learned the basics of cooking and alternative ways of getting home supplies.

A real boom has happened in the area of urban or backyard gardening and small homestead development.

What are the benefits of an urban or backyard garden?

Many folks decided to turn their backyards and small land spaces into mini gardens to provide fresh food. The main focus of this production is on vegetables, eggs, and meat.

Before deciding what to keep and grow in the backyard, established city and zone regulations must be checked. Some living areas have their own rules and regulations regarding keeping any live animals. It doesn’t necessarily mean that chickens cannot be kept in urban areas, but there is usually a limited number and specific conditions to follow. Some regulations will allow only hens because roosters tend to crow and get loud.

How much space do chickens require?

Chickens come in all different shapes and sizes, from giant breeds like Orpingtons that weight up to 10 lbs, to miniature breeds like Japanese bantam, which only gets around 1 lb as a fully grown bird.

Each bird requires minimum space for a healthy and productive life. Standard breeds that weigh from 4 lbs and up require a minimum of 3-4 square feet per bird. Bantams require a minimum of 2 square feet of space per bird.

How many chickens for daily egg supplies?

There are hundreds of different chicken breeds. Some are specially selected for extensive egg production, others for meat or a combination of the two.

Young chickens will start laying eggs after they turn five months old. Depending on a breed, one hen can lay between 180 and 300 eggs annually. This means that from a small flock of 4-5 chickens, it’s expected to get a minimum of 2-3 eggs every day.

Chicken breeds for best egg production

Some breeds are purposely bred for their excellent egg-laying abilities. Brown or White Leghorns ,and New Hampshire are some of the most popular breeds in egg production. All of those are expected to produce over 220 eggs annually.

However, there is one breed that is high above all the others in the egg-laying area.

Production Red is the breed of chicken that is famous for its 300+ eggs per bird. A flock of 5 hens will most likely supply their owners with 5 large eggs every day. Production Reds are standard size birds who weight around 7lbs for hens and 9lbs for roosters. Eggs are large with the brown shell.

Chickens for meat production

Besides eggs, one other equally important use from chickens is meat. There are breeds of chickens whose entire purpose is to provide high quantity and quality meat and provide it fast.

When choosing a breed for meat production, there are two qualities to look for. First is the weight of fully developed birds, and the second is how fast they get to that point.

Only breeds reaching over 5lbs are considered to be meat-birds, although proper meat-birds weigh over 10lbs on average.

One of the essential qualities is how fast a chick can get to the optimal weight. Meat-birds are ready for slaughter as soon as they turn 15 weeks, at which point they should get near the desirable weight.

By definition, roosters are much heavier than hens. Many farmers tend to sex-divide chicks on the first day of hatching and separate males for meat.

Chicken breeds for best meat production

Some of the well-known breeds for meat are Jersey GiantOrpingtonAustralorp, and Brahma, but none of these breeds comes close to one particular and most popular meat-breed Cornish Cross.

Cornish Cross is a favorite choice with anyone who is raising chickens for meat purposes. This breed can get to 10lbs within only 6 weeks. They are calm and tame birds. Not only that these chickens get broad breasts, big thighs, and legs, but their meat tastes better than other breeds in the same category.

Dual-Purpose Chickens

For those who are expecting both eggs and meat from their flock, there are breeds to meet those demands. Dual-purpose chickens may not be record-breaking egg and meat producers, but they are more than generous in both of those areas.

These breeds are on the higher side of egg-laying, with an average of 200 eggs per hen. The weight of adult birds is also over 5lbs, which puts them in a category of meat-birds.

Dual-purpose chickens are an excellent investment in a backyard or urban garden.

Some of the dual-purpose breeds are WyandottePlymouth RockBuckeyeAmeraucanaSussexNaked Neck, and Welsummer.

The most popular dual-purpose chicken, and for a good reason, is Rhode Island Red. These chickens get the best from both options. They are excellent egg layers with up to 280 eggs per hen. Rhode Island Reds are also in the heavy category, with roosters weighing up to 8.5lbs.

Chickens as garden addition

Not everyone keeps chickens only as a source of eggs and meat. Many breeds are kept either for their exotic appearance, like bantam chickens, or for interesting color eggshells.

It became trendy to keep chickens that lay eggs with different color eggshells. In addition to standard white and cream eggs, some breeds will now make an egg basket look like it’s Easter every day.

Copper Marans lay chocolate brown eggs, Easter Egger is known for their light green, and Ameraucana for light blue eggs.

Choosing the right chickens

Knowing your needs and what you want to accomplish with your backyard flock will make the decision much easier. Some prefer to have a constant source of fresh eggs, and others are more meat lovers. Maybe you prefer both, or perhaps you only want some colorful addition and conversation starter. In any case, there are chickens for everyone.

Where, how and when to get different chicken breeds?

All of the mentioned breeds and many more are available here at Valley Hatchery. Dozens of chicken varieties, from egg layers, meat-birds, bantams, and rare breeds, there is something for everyone.

Ordering is simple through our official website valleyhatchery.com where you may find all the more detailed information on every breed and answers for every question you have.

Perfect for beginners or small backyard flocks, you may order as few as three chickens at Valley Hatchery, which is a minimum purchase, and get them shipped to your door.

Late fall and early winter months are when the hatchery takes orders for the following spring. Due to the high demand and risk of selling out, now is the perfect time to place your order and reserve chicks for your happy little flock.

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