Curious how everyone manages a smaller flock?


7 Years
Nov 12, 2012
I am interested in eventually getting chickens. My goal is to buy dual purpose chickens to be used for eggs and meat. I would like enough meat and eggs for my family of 6. I am aware that it takes roughly 6 months or longer before hens began consistently producing eggs and would not want to butcher hens that just start producing eggs. So I guess my question is do people use some sort of cycle so that they consistently have a supply of eggs and meat? For example do you just buy straight run chicks and butcher the males and keep the hens and order new chicks yearly or do you invest in a rooster and hatch out chicks once or twice a year? What's more practical and economical? Thanks for any advice!
I have never raised chickens for meat before but have been reading a lot about it as I am considering it for the future. If you are serious about raising chickens for meat you may want to consider having two flocks - one of laying hens and one of meat hens. This may give you the most effective flock. You could still eat your laying hens when they stop laying but that is generally around 2 years. The best layers make very small meals. Generally meat birds are processed before they reach laying eggs. Dual purpose birds tend to be fine layers and fine to eat but are not amazing at either.

I have a very small flock of only 5 hens at the moment but want to expand in the future when I leave the city. I'm sure some people with larger dual purpose flocks will have more to add.
Well here's my experience on the subject. I got chickens purely for eggs but I wanted a rainbow when it came to the color of eggs in my basket so I didn't stick to just one or two breeds. I have 7 different breeds of 10 hens. Pretty much all my chickens with the exception of 3 are dual purpose breeds so technically I could butcher them for meat too. I got a few of mine straight run and then 4 I got from a hatchery and paid extra to ensure they would grow up to be hens.

Looking back, the chick process was fun but not economical. If I were to do it over again, I would not buy straight run (unless it was a breed I was dying to have) because I ended up with more roosters than I wanted and trying to find them homes was very difficult. I don't have the heart to kill the poor things. The energy, time, and feed put into the rooster starting from chick to big enough to eat would not be worth it to me. I would recommend spending a little extra money and buying pullets or chickens that were just about to start laying anywhere from 4-7 months old. The first year to two years is when a hen produces the most eggs after that it is a gradual reduction. If I were you I would butcher the older hens when production dropped. However, if you did that you might be waiting awhile for meat. You could go straight run and butcher the roosters but once all your roosters are gone then what? Not to mention the time spent waiting to figure out if they are roosters.

Have you thought about getting a mixed flock of egg layers and meat birds? If you got cornish cross chickens you could breed them which would give you a constant supply of meat birds. Birds bred specifically for meat develop and mature at a much faster rate. I believe Cornish crosses are ready to be butchered in just 8 weeks. This is much more economical to feed a bird for 2 months and butcher than after a year or two. Then you could get birds for eggs and increase your rate of egg production. When an egg layer got older or egg production decreased you could butcher her too. Then buy a few more pullets. This option, to me, is the most economical. You're spending less money, time, energy on birds that develop much faster than going the dual purpose route. Just an opinion. Whatever you decide to do good luck!
If I wanted meat birds, I would get enough cornish X to have a decent slaughter when they are ready. I think that is about 8 weeks or so. Butcher them and put them up for the year.

Since they are bred purely for rapid growth, they will peak and be ready quickly. As i understand, they don't fare well if left to live for a long time. They grow fast and don't adapt well to walking and such.

As I see it, layers are more for the long term. Since they don't start laying until about 6 months and carry on for a couple of years, this timeline is much different for laying hens.

Although dual purpose sounds good, it seems to make more sense to focus where you can. Besides, having a lot of dual purpose hens laying all over the place while you wait until you want to harvest one or two seems difficult to manage.

Going to get Dark Cornish and Turkeys this spring. The way I plan to do it with turkeys is to get 1 roo and 3 hens. Eat the 2 hens the same year. Thanksgiving and Xmas, then in the spring hatch eggs. Keep 2 or 3 for me and sell the rest. If I have to many eggs will eat them.

Same with the Dark Cornish.Except will get 1 roo and 10 hens or so. I eat a lot of chicken. lol. Keep at least 5 hens for breeding. If I need more I can hatch and keep more. Again to many eggs, not a problem. The more eggs I have the better to sell. And I am selling the chickens also. People even want the freash meat already. Might get more hens to start with. But you see what I mean.

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