You typically raise chickens for one of two reasons. You raise chickens for eggs, and/or you raise chickens for meat. While I want to raise chickens for both meat and eggs, it would be the end of my marriage. Since chickens are also my wife’s pets, we raise egg laying chickens as pets. If you raise chickens just to eat, they are called broilers. There are some breeds that work as both a decent broiler and a layer called dual purpose birds.How Many Egg Laying Chickens do You Need?
There are a few factors that you have to consider when you are thinking about how many egg laying chickens to get. One of the biggest items to consider is how many you can have in your area. If you can’t find any information from the local government website, try asking the local farm co-op, they may be able to point you in the right direction. We are allowed to have 4 chickens in our location, so that is the top end.
We also looked at how many eggs we usually eat in a week. Our family eats 2 eggs each for breakfast most days. We might eat out or skip breakfast 1 day a week. Sometimes we might make something other than eggs and use less than 4 eggs. Usually we go through two dozen eggs per week. We’re a family of 2 so you’ll want to think about/track how many you eat for a couple of weeks to get an idea of how many eggs you’ll need.
Our best hens lay an egg almost every day. 6-7 eggs a week is pretty good for an egg laying chicken. Some of our other hens will lay 4 eggs per week. Since we can only have 4 chickens and we’re lucky to get 1 a day from the best hens, we often still have to buy eggs. If we could have 5 chickens, I think we could meet our needs. So you can imagine a large family will need quite a few chickens for enough eggs to feed everyone.
There are also times when the chickens don’t lay eggs at all. They can try to sit on the eggs instead of laying them (called broody). They can also lose their feathers (molt) and stop laying for a while. If it is cold, they might also not lay as frequently. As chickens age, they lay less eggs.
What Kind of Pets are Chickens?
Chickens have personalities all their own. Each chicken will act a little differently and the more time you spend with them the more you will notice it. One of our favorite breeds for pet chickens are the buff orpingtons. They are super soft and very sweet. They lay around 4-5 light brown eggs per week. These are great egg laying chickens for kids because they tend to be friendliest out of the ones that we have raised. I’ve heard they can be used as dual purpose birds and they seem to be big enough for a decent meal. If you plan to eat your birds, it is probably a bad idea to treat them as pets.
Bantam chickens can be a good option for smaller spaces as they are smaller birds. They also lay smaller eggs. They are fun looking with fancy feathers and many parents swear by them. We have only raised full sized hens so I can’t say too much about them, but they seem sweet and I love their little feet feathers.
Kids, including this grow up one, will also love easter eggers, often called Ameraucanas or Araucanas. These birds are also very friendly and sweet. Their special talent is laying blue, green, or even pink eggs. What kid doesn’t want blue eggs for breakfast? Our first Ameraucana was named BoJangles, we just called her Bojo. She was all about getting some cuddles in and made for a great pet chicken. She was also one to chase bugs in the most hilarious ways!
More importantly, chickens are funny and friendly. You can train them to do silly chicken tricks. You will not enjoy many things in life more than watching a bunch of chickens chase a grasshopper or cricket. Many of them are extremely treat motivated. We found that our chickens loved mealworms as treats. We loved feeding them the dried ones, but the live ones were the best. We even grew our own mealworms for our chickens.
Some of them are cuddlers! Just make sure to wash your hands and change clothes after cuddling your feathered friends. Most cuddles will be laying in your lap so you can pet them. Chickens are really soft and they make sweet sounds when you pet them. Some chickens also like to be carried around. All of our chickens would follow us through the yard if they were out of their runs.
Playing with Your Chickens
What good is a pet that you can’t play with? Chickens are no exception. Some of their favorite games are keep away (with a treat), swing time, and cuddles. Chickens like to roost on a perch or swing. This is also a lot of fun to watch. Get your own chicken swing here, or make your own chicken swing.
Let’s be honest, you want to dress your chicken up and take them out for a walk, you can do that too. You can buy or make chicken aprons (used to protect hens during mating) and dress them up like a super star. You can also get your chicken a harness and take them out for a walk. You just want to be careful of dogs and cats around the neighborhood or keep your pet chickens in your yard.
What to do with all those eggs
The other issue you’ll have with egg laying chickens for pets is what to do with all the eggs. We eat a lot of eggs for breakfast and rarely have extras. If you are not quite as big of a breakfast family, deviled eggs are always a great option. You can also trade eggs with your neighbors for things like garden fresh veggies. In some areas you can even sell excess eggs. A friend’s grandson sold a dozen eggs for $5 and saved the money up to buy a toy truck he wanted. Double win on learning about money and chickens!