Choosing Chickens For Your Homestead

Choosing chickens for your homestead is a wise decision when you are new to homesteading. Getting started with chickens is the simplest form of livestock for beginners. They can produce food in the form of meat and eggs. The abundance is easily sold to the public, which will provide an extra income for you. Chickens are super inexpensive to buy.  Chicks at the local farm store run anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 a chick. Adults in local ads go for sometimes $10.00 for a half a dozen birds. This makes them more affordable compared to other forms of livestock such as sheep, cows, and goats. They can be a great 4-H project for children also.

choosing chickens

 

Choosing Chickens For Your Homestead

 

How to choose the right chicken breed and type for your homestead.

choosing chickensBreed and Standard

The term “breed” simply means a group of related chickens. These are generally the same size and shape. Most have similar skin coloring and similar feather style. They will have the same number of toes, and the same shape or style of comb on their heads.  The type of breed you choose will depend on what you want the chickens for. There are breeds for cold weather as well as warm weather climates. Some breeds are far more tasty to eat than others. Some breeds are known for their good and bad temperaments, and so on.

 

The term “standard” is used by the American Poultry Association when judging poultry. It shows certain characteristics that judges look for in a particular breed. Knowing a little about breeds and standards can help you in your decision of choosing chickens that are right for your homestead. If you are looking to have specific colored eggs then read Colorful Chicken Eggs: Which Breeds Lay Which Colors.

 

Meat Chickens vs Laying Chickenschoosing chickens

Certain breeds of chickens have been bred specifically for meat. Some breeds are bred for egg-laying.  A female of a breed that was bred for meat will still lay eggs. However, she will not lay the abundant number of eggs a chicken bred for egg-laying will.  Chickens bred for meat are bred to gain less weight to make for better eating. A chicken bred for laying at the same age would be much tougher as they grow bigger faster.

When choosing chickens for your homestead, you must determine which fills your needs. It is a better choice to pick a meat chicken or a layer chicken, dependent on your purpose. You can always raise both. You will have to keep them separate from each other as their eating habits are different. For detailed information on checking the freshness of chicken eggs read 3 Methods for Testing Freshness in Eggs.

 

choosing chickensThe Role of the Rooster

There are two major points about roosters that are often misunderstood. The first misconception is that you need a rooster to have eggs. That is absolutely false. Hens lay eggs whether or not there is a rooster around. However, if you want those eggs to become baby chickens, the rooster is a necessity as he fertilizes them.

 

The second misconception is that roosters are supposed to wake everyone up at 6 am!  Newsflash! Roosters crow whenever they want to and it is usually when you don’t want them to. Roosters are noisy creatures. If you have neighbors that may be unhappy with all the ruckus you may want to reconsider having one.

Another note worth mentioning is that if you get a rooster, get 1 rooster. Roosters can be territorial and you really only need one rooster for about every 6 to 12 hens.

 

Other Decisions in Choosing Chickenschoosing chickens

Once you determine the purpose of your chickens it is time to decide on how many and what stage you want to purchase your chickens at. In deciding on how many chickens you need, keep this in mind, in an average summer, three hens will provide about a dozen and a half eggs per week. My suggestion for starting out is 6. If something happens to one or more due to weather, predators or sickness, you are still likely to consistently get that dozen and a half eggs. The abundance can always be given away or sold. Here where I live, we sell a dozen white eggs for $3.00, and $3.50 for brown eggs!

 

choosing chickensChoosing Chickens by Stage

The last decision you need to make in choosing chickens is at what stage you will buy them.  The stage at which you buy them determines what you will need to prepare for before you actually get them home.

Below I have compiled a shortlist of the four stages that chickens are at when available for purchase. Looking at the explanation that follows each stage should help you make a better determination as to which stage you would prefer when choosing chickens for your homestead.

 

Stages of Chickens Sold and Their Descriptions

  • Eggs:  Fertilized and ready to be shipped so you can incubate them yourself. This route can be costly with a 50 % survival rate.
    • For more information read Artificial Incubation Methods.
  • Day Olds: Purchased usually in the spring, cheaper than adults or pullets but only 70 to 100 % survive to adulthood.
    • For more information read Raising Baby Chickens.
  • Pullets: females less than a year old. less risk, probably the best bet to start with.
  • Adults: already mature, more expensive based on the breed, usually bought from individuals.
    • For more information read Adult Chickens on Your Homestead.

 

 

When choosing chickens for your homestead it is important to first have a goal in mind for why you want to have them in the first place. Knowing how many you need and what stage to buy them will assist you in making a better thought out decision for your first venture. The more you learn and plan out your decision in choosing chickens right from the start the less stressful it will be and the better prepared you will be when they finally arrive.

 

So What’s Next After Choosing Chickens?choosing chickens

Now that you have made the choice of what chickens you want on your homestead you need to provide those chickens with some essentials for their survival. In the next post, Chicken Housing for Your New Chickens, I explain the types of housing and materials needed whether you buy an already made house or build one yourself. Already have a coop?  Check out Raising Baby Chickens or Hatching Chicken Eggs on the Homestead to see what steps are involved to ensure a healthy life from the start, or Adult Chickens on Your Homestead if you plan or purchasing adults locally.

For some great tips of picking breeds for your homestead, read Tips for Selecting Chicken Breeds from The Chicken Chick

Do you already have chickens on your homestead? Leave me a comment on what breeds you chose and how many you are raising!

 

 

Read Next: Preparing Chicken Housing for Your New Chickens

 

Choosing chickens for your homestead is something you should research and learn something about!

 

41 Comments






  1. All good information for those just starting out wanting raise chickens

  2. Great post! I can’t wait to have chickens again, they are so entertaining. Our favorites were our Buff Orpingtons, so friendly!

    1. Author

      We have a few Buffs also. My favorites are the Polish and the Silkies!

  3. Hi Annie!
    Good info for chicken newbies!

    Right now I have 5 White Leghorns…1 rooster and 4 hens. It seems strange to have such a small flock…I’ve had up to 100 chickens and other poultry at a time. But this is much more managable, especially when it comes to purchasing feed!

    1. Author

      I know all about the feed bill.I mix fresh millet and fodder in with my feed so we use about 75 pounds a week compared to 150 pounds a week before!

  4. I was thinking of trying again with chickens at my dad’s country house. Though is so wild there that more often than not some mammal manages to get through and gets them all in one go.. no matter how well you fence it.. so we gave up some years ago, but i want to try again! So will keep this very useful advice close by when the time comes

    1. Author

      Maybe you can try and get a Guinea Hen. Ours alerts the flock and us when predators are near with her squeaks!

  5. Awesome info! Thanks Annie 🙂 We currently only have 5 layers: Brahma, Rhode Island Red, Rhode Island White, Easter Egger, and an Australorpe. We are looking to expand our flock by 15 this Spring and possibly adding a rooster.

    1. Author

      I actually have 7 roosters for about 40 or so hens. I love my EasterEggers!

  6. I’m so excited about getting chickens! Thanks to my friend Candy! And Indidnt know that about Roosters. Candy is hatching the eggs for me and I will be out there frequently!

    1. Author

      I have almost 45 chickens plus some ducks and a turkey! They are a lot of fun. We collect about 25 to 30 eggs per day!

  7. Great post that I will be coming back to when I can get chickens! Easy to follow and full of information for those of us who want chickens. Thanks!

    1. Author

      So glad you found it helpful!!Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Good information. I don’t have chickens at this time, but do plan them in the future.

    Good things to think about.

    1. Author

      Well be prepared because chickens are addicting!

  9. Great info! I have a hodgepodge of some breeds that I have gotten cheaply at different places. BUT I love the heritage breeds and would love to have more of the Buff Orpingtons! I love their personalities!

    1. Author

      I have so many chickens that I ain’t even sure what all I have anymore! I guess its true that chickens are addicting!

  10. Good tips! I have never had luck with roosters. They always become aggressive and have to be “taken care of.” My favorite breed is the Rhode Island Red. They are such a workhorse for egg laying.

    1. Author

      I got very lucky with my roosters! They are all friendly, but they also were all put in the flock at the same time. I am not sure what adding a new one would mean. I don’t have any Red’s. I may get some this year.

  11. It’s so tempting to buy more chicks when I see them in the feed store. They are definitely addicting!

    1. Author

      I totally agree, Kathi! I started at 12 and now have almost 50+!

  12. Great information! There are so many things to think about when getting chickens!

    1. Author

      Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the post!







  13. What a great list. I mostly chose my chickens by look or popularity, but your way makes so much more sense!

    1. Author

      Well, thanks so much! All that matters, in the end, is that you are happy with whatever chickens you choose no matter how you pick them. However, you should take your climate and needs in regard to your chickens.





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