Keeping chickens for eggs is not something you do lightly; think before you begin because if you keep animals, you are responsible for their welfare. So think carefully about the breed and number you want, taking into account the type of garden and the area available for the chicken coop. A large garden or rather a small city garden can be decisive in choosing the breed.
Chickens bring life to the house, they turn over the compost pile and help digest garden and kitchen waste, and they also provide us with fresh eggs (daily). They are social animals that live in groups. So never keep 1 chicken but preferably a flock of 3 or more. A rooster is not a must, you can also keep chickens without one because the crowing early in the morning can be a nuisance in a city garden.
On the other hand, a rooster has a social function and prevents a lot of chicken fights. He protects the hens and warns them in case of danger. If you have a rooster, make sure the eggs are not incubated and collect them every day. If the eggs are incubated for more than 2 days, they are no longer fit for consumption.
Which breed do you choose when keeping chickens for eggs?
It goes without saying that in a small garden, large fowl do not belong. There are a lot of different breeds of chickens from laying hens, meat breeds to ornamental chickens where laying hens like the brown or white leghorn usually don’t get that old. They are also light, lively species bred for high laying performance. They have a greater need for exercise, flight and the ability to perch higher up.
Meat breeds such as Brahma and Cochin are generally heavier but quiet chickens that you can easily raise tame. They do produce fewer eggs. Ornamental chickens or bantams average 5 to 8 years of age and are bred more for their appearance. These are very suitable when keeping chickens for eggs. Cochin bantam, chabo, sablefoot bantams and silk fowl are breeds you can keep perfectly in a smaller yard. They require less coop space and keeping them, given proper care, does not pose many problems, ideal for beginners! Bantams do lay fewer eggs that are also smaller than those of their predecessors.
The Chicken Coop
The layout of the chicken coop. An animal is generally content if it is allowed to display its innate behavior freely and use its senses to the fullest. The layout of the chicken coop and run is of great importance for the welfare of the animals.
For an optimal outdoor enclosure, you need at least 5 m² per chicken, depending on the breed. An area of 10 to 25 m² per animal is ideal to ensure an evergreen run. An outdoor run that is too small is quickly soiled with droppings and soon turns into a mud puddle without vegetation in autumn.
The night pen with laying nest
A solid coop where the birds can perch at night and lay eggs in the nests during the day is indispensable. You can build one yourself, but if you want to talk about the price, it is often not cheaper than a standard coop you can buy.
The chicken coop should preferably have as few cracks and crevices as possible because these can be breeding grounds for blood lice. The more cracks the more likely these mites will thrive there. Prevent mites when keeping chickens for eggs.
Provide perches in the coop and ensure adequate ventilation but avoid drafts by closing the coop at night with a chicken shutter. A hatch also protects the animals from foxes and other nocturnal predators. Make sure the coop is easy to maintain and that all parts are accessible. Laying nests should also be provided in the night coop, which is where chickens can lay their eggs and even brood each day.
Provide a litter layer, a mixture of straw and dust-free wood fibers. These have great absorbency and make it pleasant for the chickens to stay in the coop, especially during the winter or during a long period of rain. Change the litter weekly, especially under the perches and in the laying nest to get clean eggs and avoid pests. When cleaning, always check for the presence of pests.
Planting in the coop
To give the chicken run some color, you can plant the chicken run. However, be careful with toxic shrubs because many shrubs and bushes are toxic to chickens, such as: Yew, Boxwood, bulbs, the nightshade family such as tomatoes and potatoes, rhubarb, ornamental squashes, fern, foxglove,…. Plants that can be done include herbaceous plants such as rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano and birdsfoot. Also plant an evergreen shrub that provides year-round shelter such as pine or spruce.
What do chickens eat?
Chickens have simple eating habits, a quantity of chicken feed and fresh water every day. For chicks you have chick-raising mix, for adult chickens free-range grain in different compositions and laying pellets. The latter reduce waste and prevent selective eating behavior. They provide chickens with all the necessary nutrients for laying tasty eggs with a beautiful ochre-yellow yolk color. It is best to give a small amount each day, supplemented with a scoop of free-range grain, which provides variety. This is great when you are keeping chickens for eggs.
Also occasionally give some additional green food such as lettuce and some mealworms as snacks. For the firmness of the eggshells, you should also always provide a quantity of grit. They are broken oyster shells that ensure proper digestion and supplement their calcium requirements. They need this for egg shell production. Offer this in a separate container and change regularly to keep it hygienic. Read here about the best chicken feed.
To stay healthy, chickens must also have fresh drinking water at all times. Water intake is basically twice the food intake and indispensable for good laying performance. Dirty water can contain germs and make the animals sick. So clean the feed and drinking troughs on a regular basis. This is how you keep your chickens healthy and happy! This is essential when keeping chickens for eggs.