9 Important Decisions Before You Get Chickens

You’ve decided that you are ready for chickens….what next?

There are several things you’ll want to do before you actually buy any chickens. I know, I know….you want them now! Although they are very easy, you will still want to be prepared so you can begin immediately posting your chicken pictures all over Instagram.

Below are 9 important decisions to make before you get chickens.

Chicks or Chickens: Which Should You Choose?

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? No, I’m not trying to get into an evolutionary debate, I’m asking which will come first for you. The first decision you’ll need to make for your chicken adventures will be to start with chicks (the egg) or teen/grown chickens (the chicken).

#1 Chicks

Chicks, of course! Just kidding. Chicks are so adorable, though aren’t they? I love them! Their baby chirps, their little beaks, their cute fluffiness, their little legs, even their little chick poops. Yes, I even love their little baby chick poops but I’m a little on the crazy side so…

However, chicks are like babies…no you don’t have to nurse them. That would be weird. Stop being weird. They just require more care than an older chicken. Makes sense. Just like a newborn takes a lot of attention and care so do chicks. Whereas when they become teenagers, you embarrass them with your mere presence just like human teenagers.

Ok so maybe they aren’t embarrassed by your presence so much as deathly afraid even though you’ve been caring for them their whole lives!

Never before have you harmed them but this one time you just may try to kill them, so they run away screaming in panic.

Actually a lot of that fear depends on how much you handled them as chicks and also what breed they are. Some breeds are more skittish while others can be very friendly and let you hold them. Those get more treats from mama! I reward their sweet behavior. Either that or I’m bribing them to come near me more often. Tomato, tomahto!

So, what exactly do you need to get started with chicks?

#2 Chick Brooder

First, you will need an enclosure aka brooder, something that has a lid preferably for when they start to get a bit flighty and try to “fly the coop”, get it? I just love puns.

Baby Chicks in Bluebonnets

When we get chicks, we keep ours inside so we can regulate their temperature better. If you live in a colder environment this will be important.

You don’t necessarily have to keep them inside because it can get a bit smelly, but if they’re going to be outside, make sure you can keep the temperature inside their enclosure warm enough and in a place not exposed to any kind of draft.

A garage or barn (again with no draft) are also great options for avoiding the smell inside your home.

Once the decision is made of where they’ll live for the next several weeks, you’ll next need to figure out which brooder you plan to get. You can buy any variety of brooders online or at your local feed store, build one yourself, or DIY one – which is what I’ve done.

Ducklings in a horse trough brooder

At our feed store they put the baby chicks and ducks into a large horse trough. Getting something like that makes sense if you plan to have a lot of chicks (which I always think is awesome – the more the merrier, right?). You’ll need to make sure you get one big enough for the amount of chicks you plan to get because they grow very fast.

In fact, they will typically double their weight four to five times in the first six weeks.

Yes, really!

Keep that in mind when selecting the size. While they may have plenty of room as week-old chicks, that won’t be case in a month and having to buy another brooder is an unnecessary expense. So, start with the right size from the start.

If you are a decent carpenter, you can always build one. I met a family that had built their own that looked similar to rabbit hutches. They had a lid that lifted up and metal screen on the top and all sides. Very efficient.

I’m just not great at building things so I chose to DIY one out of a large storage tote. I bought a tote from Walmart with a lid. I cut a large opening into the lid and used nuts and bolts to connect metal screen to the lid. Super easy and affordable. You want to put metal screen because if you choose to use a heat lamp it will be resting on this screen and anything besides the metal will melt.

#3 Chick Temperature

In order for your chicks to grow properly you will want to make sure that their temperature is kept warm enough according to their age. The chart below will help to show how warm to keep their brooder at each advancing week. Newborn chicks will need the temperature to be approximately 95 degrees and it gradually declines until they turn about 6 weeks old.

Baby Chick Temperature Chart

The bulbs that I have seen recommended are typically 250 watt bulbs. In my experience these are too hot. We actually get reptile heat lamps that are 75-100 watt on a variable switch so we can turn down the heat as they start to grow. Works like a charm!

Be very careful with heat lamps as they can be dangerous and could cause a fire. I’d strongly suggest an alternative especially since you are a newbie. Heat plates are awesome and don’t pose the same risk as a heat lamp does. You are also able to raise the plate higher (they are on pegs) as they get older to reduce the temperature.

Chickens are very smart and it’s no different when they’re babies. Chicks will tell you if you’re screwing things up for them. They’re mouthy little things.

Your babies will give you signs if something is wrong with their home.

If they’re spread out around the edge of their enclosure the temperature is most likely too hot for them. Easy fix. Just lower the temperature by either buying a lower wattage lamp or turning the heat down on the variable switch. If you’re using a heat plate, it’s time to raise it up.

If they’re all huddled together under the heat lamp it’s probably not warm enough and you’ll want to lower your heat plate or turn up the heat. They’ll chirp noisily too if they’re cold. This is them looking for their warm mommy to huddle under.

Smart little boogers, aren’t they?

The chicks can begin going outside during the day to become acclimated at about 6 weeks as long as the weather is warm and the temperature is above 55 degrees.

Oh, they’re so adorable when they first get outside too. They’re so curious and they start scratching around looking for bugs and other goodies. So precious! If the weather is warm enough, I let ours out for about 15-20 min at about 3 weeks old or so. Not long enough for them to get cold but enough for them to feel a sense of freedom.

We live in Texas so “warm enough” isn’t really a concern for us. It feels like we live under a constant heat lamp. Ha!

#4 Chick Feed

There are a few other elements you’ll need inside the brooder: food, water and bedding. There are a few options for feed. Personally, we choose to use a medicated chick starter feed. Medicated feed helps chicks to combat coccidiosis which is a disease that is very common and found in almost every environment.

Most of the medicated feeds contain amprollium which, although it doesn’t treat coccidiosis, helps the chicks to fight off coccidial oocysts while their immunity is built up. Though that is something we personally feed, you can always feed non-medicated feed.

I strongly encourage everyone to do their own research and make the right decisions for your own flock.

Whichever feed you choose, chicks should continue to eat starter chick feed and be transitioned to layer formula once they reach about 18 weeks old.

#5 Chick Water

Now that you’ve made your decisions on feed the next thing to think about is water.

Water is completely optional.

Kidding! Your chicks will need access to plenty of water. Waterers are very affordable, especially the small plastic ones, but I will warn you that anything on the floor of the brooder will end up constantly dirty!

I like to elevate ours a little because while the chicks scratch around they toss bedding and end up filling their waterer causing it to clog up. Cue noisy chirps again! I’ll usually put a little wooden block down to elevate it just a bit. As they get bigger, I typically raise it again because their scratching gets more aggressive.

#6 Chick Bedding

For bedding you can use a variety of things, but we’ve always used pine shavings. Tractor Supply carries a big bale of it for less than $10, which will last you a while. You’ll want to avoid cedar shavings since the oil is harmful to chickens to all ages. In the future I may try hemp bedding which is all the rage right now. I’ve got to find out what all the fuss is about.

Chicks poop a lot. Yes, I’m sure that’s common sense but I thought I’d reiterate that fact. Because of this you’ll want to change out the shavings regularly. We usually change them once or twice a week especially because the smell can get…well…smelly.

But oh, how adorable they are! I love the chick phase. I love the sounds they make and how their chicken instincts are so strong even at such a young age.

That being said…

#7 Chickens

Chicks are a lot of work! I know it more than most. At one time I had about 55 chicks in my house. No, I didn’t accidentally hit the number 5 twice…I actually had 55 chicks inside my house. It was heaven….and hell.

I don’t plan to repeat the process any time soon. Well at least not until Chick Days comes around again at the feed stores. What can I say? I have no will power.

White Leghorn Chicks

If you’ve decided to skip over the chick phase I don’t blame you a bit. There’s about five months (if not more) of feeding, watering and cleaning before you get a return on your investment….i.e. eggs. Depending on the feed and bedding you buy that can be hundreds of dollars. I saw a post recently on a chicken group where someone held their first chicken egg and said “This egg cost me $5,000”

I admit that made me laugh quite a bit because I could totally relate! It’s truly a labor of love raising chicks.

Side note: If you choose to get broiler chicks then you’ll only have about 8 weeks of feeding, watering and cleaning before processing.

Many chicken breeders will sell 8 week old chicks that are “outside-ready”. This is a great option because you skip the high maintenance chick phase but still get them before they’re full grown. This also ensures you don’t miss any prime egg laying years.

If you end up getting full grown chickens that are already laying, it’s best to try to find out how old they are. Hopefully the current owner can give you a good idea. Although I’ve rescued plenty of chickens, which is always a great thing to do if you are able. I love the feeling of being able to give any animal a good home. One such chicken I rescued was posted on a local neighborhood group. She was a beautiful barred rock and when I picked her up, she was tied to a bar in their yard. No food or water within reach.

Poor girl. She was so happy to come to our 10 acre farm. We named her Pretty Girl and we gave her a wonderful free-range life.

She acclimated very easily as chickens do. Getting fully grown or near grown chickens is a great option for you especially if you don’t have a lot of free time (or just prefer a low maintenance chicken experience). Other than regular coop cleaning your chickens are pretty self-sufficient.

Chickens need the same things as chicks: food, water and bedding. The only real difference is you don’t have to worry about temperature except in extreme highs or lows.

#8 Chicken Food

Food: where to begin! This can be overwhelming. When it comes to chicks there are a few options but once they grow up? Goodness, it can get overwhelming.

Pellets, Crumble, Organic, Medicated, Non-GMO, Store bought, DIY and on and on and on.

We feed organic pellet feed mixed with seed and allow our flock to free range for at least 10 hours a day. This allows them to supplement the feed with bugs and whatever else they may find. However, soon I plan to research making my own because it would no doubt be more cost efficient for us since we have such a large flock. I’ll keep you posted on that!! Free ranging them does cut down on the feed they would otherwise consume if they were constantly penned up.

#9 Chicken Coop

Where will your chickens sleep?

We free range ours so our coop isn’t huge. If you decide to keep them enclosed during the day then you’ll want enough space for them to live humanely.

General rule of thumb for space is 2-3 square feet inside of the coop per chicken. For an outdoor run each chicken should have about 8-10 square feet of space.

Because we choose to free range we do run the risk of predators and unfortunately that is a very real risk – we’ve lost chickens to coyotes and hawks. That being said I feel that it is so beneficial to them to being able to free range and live naturally.

Many people don’t agree and don’t want to run the risk of losing chickens and believe me I know how upsetting it can be to lose your sweet feather babies, but to me they are so much happier to be out and about all day.

Chickens are natural foragers and they’re very smart at avoiding predators especially hawks – even more so for those flocks with roosters because of their amazing ability to warn of predators. Roosters are natural protectors and their instinct kicks in to protect their ladies.

Every morning we open the coop door to let the chickens out and at dusk we tuck them back in and read them a bedtime story. Their favorite story is Chicken Little. Kidding…they prefer romance novels.

If you worry about getting your chickens back in a coop at night don’t worry. Why? Because chickens like to go to bed at night. They know where their coop is and they automatically go in at night.

Yep, it’s true! Crazy, right? When I first got chickens, I was amazed to find that they went to bed on their own. Sometimes, though, I will say that there can be a bit of a learning curve for them in the beginning. We’ve found them outside the coop and had to put them back in. It usually only takes a few days for them to get the hang of things though.

Easy peasy!

It can actually be even easier than that because of advances in chicken keeping. They now have automatic chicken doors. They open in the morning and close up at night. Cool, right? We haven’t made the switch yet mainly because I prefer to check on my babies at night to make sure there are no predators that snuck in and everyone is doing ok.

I also like to check for any last-minute eggs that may have been laid since the last time we checked.

So, have you decided which is right for you? Chicks in all their cute and fluffy glory? Or hens that are older and more independent? There are pros and cons to both. Which have you decided?

Comment below and let me know!

Happy Homesteading and Stay Cuckoo!

7 Best Homesteading Chicken Starter Tips

Brief History of
Domesticated Chickens

Chickens are the best animal in the world! Ok, as a self-proclaimed “crazy chicken lady” I MAY be a bit biased. Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals but chickens? Chickens are the only pet that lays breakfast! They’re also one of the closest living relatives to a T-Rex. How cool is that? If you are just beginning your homesteading endeavor, then I highly suggest you start with chickens. Unlike cats, which treat you like you’re their slave (I should know because I have 4 cats and they all dictate with a simple meow), domesticated chickens are pets with a purpose! In 2004, an international team of geneticists produced a complete map of the chicken genome. Michael Zody, a computational biologist and his colleagues have been researching the differences between the red jungle fowl and its barnyard descendants, including “layers” (breeds raised to produce amazing amounts of eggs) and “broilers” (breeds that are plump and meaty). These researchers discovered that over time multiple genetic mutations occurred which led to positive results for chickens both in size of bird and capability of year-round egg laying. What does all that technical mumbo jumbo mean? Well for broilers (I refer to these as meaties – because…well…they are) it means that they are more plump than wild chickens which means as a “meat” bird you get more bang for your buck. For egg layers it means if you’d like to become more self-sustaining, their ability to lay all year long is very beneficial. After all, no one wants to feed chickens all year and only get eggs half the time. I don’t know about you, but our family eats eggs all year and I love being able to walk out to the coop and collect eggs. It’s my happy time! So, which chicken type will you choose?

Which Chicken is Right for You?

LAYERS

A comparison of a medium egg to a large egg.

So, you’ve decided to start homesteading with chickens. Awesome choice! So, what now? Well first you need to figure out whether the chickens will be for egg laying, meat or both. Egg layers are just that, they lay eggs. That is their purpose – for you anyway. Depending on the breed they can start laying as early as about 18-20 weeks and will produce eggs with or without a rooster. Yes, you read that right. Hens do NOT need a rooster in order to lay eggs. The reason a rooster is necessary is to produce eggs that are fertilized and are able to be hatched. If you’d like to hatch your own chicks, then by all means get a rooster. However, if you don’t like early morning crowing or maybe you live in the city and they’re prohibited, you can still enjoy eggs without one. In fact, most people are eating unfertilized eggs because the eggs you get from the grocery store are not fertilized as it serves no purpose in their production. Plus, it wouldn’t really even be possible when you find out how grocery store egg layers live. It’s truly sad but that’s a topic for another day. One important thing to note, not all chickens are created equal when it comes to egg laying so first, you’ll need to decide how many eggs you’ll need or want a week. Some, like the Leghorn, lay 5-6 large eggs a week while others like the Golden Laced Polish lay only 2-3 small to medium sized eggs a week.

Side by side depiction of a medium to a large egg to show size difference
A medium egg compared to a large egg

Therefore, one Leghorn will lay twice as much and produce a larger egg than the Golden Laced Polish giving you more return on your investment. These are important factors when deciding which breeds you’ll want to add to your flock. Of course, if you’re like me…the more the merrier! I mean I don’t have a “Crazy Chicken Lady” decal on my truck for nothing. I earned that title! However, if you live in the city or suburbs and want chickens you will be limited in how many you can have so you will most likely want to stick to the good production layers over the breeds that lay smaller eggs less often. This is yet another reason to move out to the country and buy land….UNLIMITED CHICKENS!! Stop letting the man (aka your HOA) tell you how many chickens you can have. Plus, we could be neighbors, wouldn’t you just love that? Of course you would. I’m super awesome and I always have eggs! Just kidding, wherever you live is fine because these days most cities and suburbs allow at least a few chickens. Yay! 

MEATIES

side by side comparison showing the size increase of commercially raised broiler chickens
The increase in growth has quadrupled from 1957-2005

So what if you’re not interested in eggs as much as wanting chickens for meat? Meaties a.k.a. broilers are chickens that are raised for meat. Most often they are Cornish Cross which grow at exponential rates. These birds, however, have greatly changed in the last 50 years from how they used to look. They used to look more like a normal chicken, however now they’ve been bred to plump up to be slaughtered by 8 weeks…yes 8 weeks. That’s a pretty quick turnaround from hatching to slaughter. Having had some meaties myself (on accident – thank you Tractor Supply for not labeling your chicks correctly), I’ve seen firsthand how quickly they grow. Thinking they were white leghorns I quickly felt something was wrong when their legs were larger than my other chicks and they were hot to the touch. After consulting with some of my chicken peeps, I found out what I had were not leghorns but were actually meaties. As they get older you can definitely tell they’re different especially when you see them waddling…oops I meant “walking” around. They’re so big they kinda reminded me of myself when I was 9 months pregnant with my son. Swollen legs & feet? Check! Hot all the time? Check! Eating all the time? Check! It’s a good thing they don’t have to bend down to tie their shoes. Most meaties are placed in front of a feeder so they eat non-stop and fatten up quickly and boy do they ever. The bigger the bird the more meat for your money so to speak so most owners feed and feed and feed. Personally, I couldn’t do that to my chickens, so we free ranged ours and limited their feed. We didn’t plan to process them for meat because I wanted them to have a better life since we hadn’t purchased them for the purpose of processing. Unfortunately, though, we had a tragedy befall us on the farm when a neighbor’s dogs came onto our property and killed 40 of our beloved birds. The meaties were among them and proved to be easy targets due to their size making them slow moving and easy prey. Although I wouldn’t have wished this upon them, I am relieved we didn’t have to witness what can happen when they continue to get larger. I’ve heard that sometimes they become larger than their bodies can handle, leading to heart attacks or their legs breaking due to the weight. Yes, seriously! You can see in the picture the difference in their growth rate in the last 60 years. It’s really not natural how they’ve been bred to grow like this. That being said, they do provide a lot of meat for one bird. I’d say that raising Cornish Crosses for meat is not a bad idea but treat them humanely – let them free range if possible. They deserve to do their chicken thing too. For us as a family, we have decided that in the future when we do raise chickens for meat they will not be these meaties, they will more than likely be a dual purpose breed that doesn’t have the same genetic problems as the Cornish Cross.

 

DUAL PURPOSE

So what is a dual purpose breed? These are the breeds that are good egg layers that are also a good size to raise for meat. All hens lay eggs even the meaties (they usually just don’t live long enough to get to laying age). Many people decide to have these dual purpose breeds so that they get the best of both worlds. They also won’t have the same health issues that you’ll see in the Cornish Cross. And a word of advice: Don’t name the chickens you plan to process. It’s not easy to butcher Henrietta when the time comes. I’m sure that’s how many people have ended up with extra chickens – they couldn’t bring themselves to eat her once they named her. A few good dual purpose breeds would be the Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Black Star & Orpington. They are all great layers and have a lot of junk in the trunk when it comes to processing for meat. The Australorp lays 300+ eggs a year and the hens weigh about 8lbs while the roosters weigh closer to 10lbs. They have calm personalities and are both cold and heat hardy. The Rhode Island Red lays about 200-300 eggs a year with the hens reaching about 6.5lbs and the roosters weighing about 8.5lbs. They have friendly personalities and do well if most climates. The Black Star & Orpington tend to lay around the same amount of eggs a year, typically between 200-300 a year. The Black Star hens are about 6lbs and the roosters weigh about 8lbs. With calm, friendly personalities and suitable for cold or hot climates they are a great choice. The Orpingtons tend to be a bit meatier with the hens reaching about 8lbs and the roosters about 10lbs. They are very friendly but due to their size they are more cold hardy than heat, though we do have several ourselves and we’re in Texas. They do fine but we always give them access to full shade and cold water.

Breeds by Climate

Chickens come in all shapes and sizes but where you live should be a deciding factor when choosing breeds for your homestead. Some do better in warmer climates while others do well in colder areas. Several breeds will also do well in both which helps if you live in areas that are hot during the day and cold at night.

If you plan to raise meaties then they will do better in a moderate climate. Since they’ve been bred to grow so large in only a matter of weeks their body temperature is higher than that of the average chicken. Their size makes it hard for them to regulate their temperature. Due to these factors, they can’t handle temperatures over 85º or temperatures below freezing very well. Meaties also don’t survive well at higher elevations above 3,000 ft. Available oxygen is lower at higher elevations and for birds prone to respiratory problems already, thinner air is very difficult for them. All of these factors must be considered before purchasing or you could end up with consistent death among your flock.

COLD WEATHER BREEDS

So, you live in a colder climate and you want chickens? You can get any breed of chicken you want but, if you’d prefer not to have to crochet chicken sweaters during the winter, there are certain breeds you’ll want to stick with. The best cold hardy breeds are ones that have less exposed skin, these tend to be the chickens with smaller combs and wattles with a lot of junk in the trunk. Sir Mix-a-Lot said it best “I like big butts and I cannot lie”, he was clearly singing about cold weather chicken breeds…duh. The following breeds are great cold weather resilient chickens:

  • Ameracauna
  • Australorp
  • Brahma (these chickens even have feathers on their feet!)
  • Cochin
  • Dominique
  • Orpington
  • Wyandotte

HOT WEATHER BREEDS

We live in Texas and let me tell you it gets really hot here! How hot? Well during the summer it was 108º and we all melted. All of us except for the chickens. Crazy how they were out and about. We provided them with plenty of shade and ok ok because my chickens are spoiled they may or may not have had a coop with an air conditioner so they could sleep in comfort at night. Told you I was a crazy chicken lady. During the day though our chickens free range all day with plenty of access to fresh cold water. So how do they stay cool in the torturous heat? Remember how the small combs and wattles helped the chickens stay warmer in the cold climate? Well the opposite is true in the hotter climates. A larger comb and wattle have a higher concentration of capillaries which helps to circulate blood and body heat close to the skin’s surface. Smaller body types will help keep them cooler as well. So which breeds should you be looking for? Below are a few that will be great heat tolerant chickens:

  • White Leghorn
  • Easter Egger
  • Minorca
  • Welsummer – duh it’s in the name!
  • Penedesenca

Keep in mind though chickens that are resilient in cold and hot climates will still need extra care. Shelters with good ventilation for hotter areas and coops that don’t allow a draft to penetrate in cold climates are important for the health and well-being of your flock. Crochet sweaters are always a good idea…just kidding…sorta. During the hottest part of the day here we like to turn our hose on the mist setting and just give our chicks a nice mist to help cool them off. They love it so much! It’s so cute to watch them fluff up and shake their feathers.

Got Eggs?

I love chickens, did I tell you that? Well, one of the biggest reasons is because of the eggs they provide. BUT not all chickens are created equal when it comes to eggs. Some lay larger eggs than others and many are prolific layers. So, what does that mean to you? It means more bang for your buck. I personally choose to have 100 chickens so I don’t need to rely on just one or two chickens to lay, but many homesteaders aren’t as crazy as me and choose to have less than triple digits…or even double digits.

multiples baskets filled with large brown eggs
The amount of eggs I’d collect daily if I could have as many chickens as I want

If you are just wanting enough for your family and maybe some friends, then you’ll prefer to have breeds that lay more frequently and preferably larger eggs. There are several options for that. Ever wonder why here in the U.S. the majority of the eggs you see in the grocery store are white? The simple answer is because the breed that the commercial egg producers use are typically White Leghorns and they lay white eggs. See? Told you it was simple. White Leghorns lay approximately 280-320 eggs a year. That’s almost an egg every day! Their lifespan is typically shorter, only about 4-6 years, than other chickens due to them being such productive layers. Sidenote: Our White Leghorn, Cuckoo, lived to be over 7 years old and I believe it was because she was able to live out her life a big open space just doing her chicken thing.

White Leghorns also lay large eggs, we even got a double yolk once (that egg was enormous – poor Cuckoo!). So, if you don’t have a color preference of eggs then Leghorns are a good choice for your homestead. I also just love how pretty they are with their tails that stick almost straight up. Heads up though, Leghorns tend to fly more than any of our other breeds from what we’ve experienced. It’s not uncommon to see them perched up on top of our coop. When we lived in a suburban neighborhood Cuckoo used to constantly fly into our neighbor’s yard. Grass is always greener, right? That can also mean that your chickens aren’t necessarily laying where they should. We’ve found many random nests around because our chickens found a spot they preferred over their nesting box. When they lay such large eggs you want to make sure you’re able to find and enjoy them! Another great option for an egg layer, if you don’t mind brown eggs, is the ISA Brown which is a hybrid that can lay 300-350 eggs a year. Keep in mind what that may mean for their lifespan though. They tend to live 2-3 years on average (though there are always exceptions). I don’t mind hybrids personally but I don’t really agree with ones whose sole purpose is to lay a ton of eggs thus shortening their lifespan, but to each their own. Rhode Island Reds are great brown-egg layers and they live 4x as long as the ISA Browns. For our family we love our feathered babies and want them to live long healthy lives and so many of our brown egg layers in the past have been Rhode Island Reds. In their prime, Rhode Island Reds lay about 200-300 eggs a year, however, egg laying production will start to decline as the chicken grows older. This is why having at least a few chickens around should still provide enough eggs for a small family.

Green Eggs and Ham

Dr. Suess wrote a whole book about green eggs and ham so I’m inclined to think maybe he had some chickens of his own. We all know about white eggs and brown eggs, but what about green eggs or blue eggs? No, I’m not talking about dyed eggs. These are real eggs laid by real chickens.

Basket of colored eggs laid by different breeds of chickens
Different breeds of chickens will lay different colored eggs.

Just to clarify though, these colored eggs only apply to the shell! The yolks are still the same color – usually a deep orange for backyard chickens. The commercial eggs from the grocery store have a neon yellow yolk – THIS IS NOT NORMAL! Once you start raising your own chickens and feed a higher quality feed you’ll notice the color of the yolk and the taste are far superior than anything you buy in the store. So how do you get colored eggs? It’s simple. Different breeds of chickens lay different colored eggs. You’ll need to decide what color you’d like and then set about getting those from a local farm or hatchery. Below I’ve broken down a few breeds for each egg color.

White Egg Layers – Leghorn, Minorca, Polish, Hamburg & Andalusian

Brown Egg Layers – Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, Dominique & Cochin

Light Tan Egg Layers – Orpington, Wyandotte & Speckled Sussex

Dark Brown Egg Layers – Copper Marans, Barnvelder & Penedesenca

Speckled Egg Layers – Cuckoo Marans and Welsummers

Green Egg Layers – Olive Eggers, Easter Eggers and Isbars

Blue Egg Layers – Ameracauna, Aruacana, Cream Legbar & Easter Eggers

On Your Mark, Get Set, Buy Chickens!

Now that you have a good foundation for getting started with your own flock of chickens all that’s left is to get to buying! Ok actually not so fast…sorry I’m always so quick to push people to buy chickens (mostly myself). You’re set with a good knowledge of chickens and what kind would make the best additions for your flock. Do you want egg layers or meaties? Do you need chickens that will be ok in cold temperatures? Do you want a basket with an array of various colored eggs? Once you’ve made all those decisions the next decision will be to decide how many chickens to get and if I may make a suggestion – buy a lot of chickens! Sorry there I go again pushing chickens. I’ve recently started attending Chicken Buyers Anonymous to help with my problem – just kidding it’s not a problem because everyone knows there’s no such thing as too many chickens! So now you’ve decided what you want, what next? In my next post, I’ll be talking about how to actually go about buying chickens, setting up their coop, what to feed and much more!

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! Oh, and if you haven’t joined the Cuckoo Family you can join here because we’d love to have you.

Happy Homesteading & Stay Cuckoo!

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