How big a flock do I need to feed my family?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PrairiEarth, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. PrairiEarth

    PrairiEarth Hatching

    Jun 26, 2016
    We eat about 3 chickens a week. We would like to have a flockthat over time will produce eggs for eating and reproducing and still have enough birds to eat. What is a good size flock to substain that?

  2. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Songster

    Dec 11, 2015
    McVeytown PA
    Well i would think maybe 15-20 but if you want to you can sell any extra eggs to neighbors or family. And if you are planning the eat them over time you can always buy as many as you feel would be enough and butcher or sell the extras you don't want or need. Hope this helps
  3. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Songster

    Dec 11, 2015
    McVeytown PA
    And if could also depend on the size of your family,.
  4. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Free Ranging

    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in the Universe
    Well, 3 chickens a week is about 156 chickens a year. How many eggs do you want a week? Do you plan on butchering all of them at once or having a few batches of meat chicks a year? Remember that you lose a lot of chickens easily, so you'd need extras. About 180 chickens a year, I imagine. For meat only. Minimum if you want that many a week.

    Plus layers and roosters and you want to hatch your own. Incubator or broody hens? You have to count that in as well.

    You are looking at about 200 chickens, maybe not all at once depending on how you do it.
  5. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    One or two hens per person for eggs. For incubating and hatching eggs, you need a rooster. Figure that about half of the chicks hatched will be male and go to the table. Pullets can be sold to help cover feed costs. It takes 3 weeks for eggs to incubate and hatch. It takes about 12 to 16 weeks for most dual-purpose cockerels to make a decent meal. You'd have to incubate at least 2 dozen eggs a month, and that's if they all hatch.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    What you need is an incubator, a rooster and 7-12 hens. And a couple of coop/runs, so that you can grow out birds of different ages, and or have a bachelor pen. Generally you get better hatch rates if you hatch from birds more that 8 month +/- of age. the eggs should be full size.

    It does take about 16-20 weeks to grow out a dual purpose bird. It takes a lot less time and feed to grow out a meat bird, about 8-10. I have read, where people kept the two breeds (cornish and rocks) needed to make the fast growing cornish cross meat chicken. Then cross breed them to raise meat birds.

    There are lots of ways to do this hobby. If you do not have a great deal of experience, I recommend working into it, starting with laying hens, and then trying other aspects.

    Good luck,

    Mrs k
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    Having one breed that supplies that is going to involve keeping a LOT of birds.

    You want good layers, for eggs for eating and hatching. Good layers usually aren't that meaty, and they don't go broody.

    If you want broody hens to hatch their own eggs, you have a hen out of egg production for about 2 months.

    Large, meaty birds don't lay many eggs.

    Have you eaten a dual purpose cockerel? They're quite different than a grocery store chicken, both in size and texture.

    My advice it to start small, with enough layers for egg production. Plan on 1-2 hens per person, depending on how many eggs you eat. A production bred hen will usually lay 6 eggs per week her first laying year, so that gives you a starting point. If you get pullet chicks this fall, you'll raise them up and have eggs incoming in the spring. At that point you'll have a few months of chicken husbandry under your belt and can add more birds in the spring. Along the way, if you get an Oops cockerel, butcher it and see how you like it. In the spring, you can get some straight run birds and raise the cockerels up and butcher them. Decide who you like, to keep as a breeder. Purchase an incubator and start incubating and hatching eggs. Grow your numbers as your space, time, etc allows. Don't expect to jump right into having a complete self-sustaining flock, it's a process that can take a few years to find the right mix for you.

    another option is to simply raise batches of Cornish cross for the freezer. I don't know how much freezer space you have, but doing 50 of those birds gives you a nice amount of meat. Plus, they're over and done in 8 weeks. Raising dual purpose cockerels for the table, you've got to take them to around 20 weeks for a meal. Some folks butcher as young as 13-14 weeks, but at that age there's very little actual meat for a family meal. You've got to house all those males somewhere, and dual purpose cockerels have pretty poor feed conversion rates compared to meat birds. Free ranging and buying feed in bulk will help, but over time you're going to spend more on them than you would on a batch of CX.

  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Another way of having meat for your table is to pressure can your spent hens. Depending on the size of your family, a quart jar is a good starter for chicKen soup, chicken stew, chicken salad, chicken enchiladas... It's quick and easy because the meat is already cooked and tender. Just open the jar and there you go!
    1 person likes this.
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    If my family ate that much chicken/week, I'd keep a laying flock... with the intent of selling any excess eggs. Hatch chicks from that flock, again, selling any extras. These sales will help to cover your feed expenses. Then, I'd raise a few batches of meat birds: CXR or Pioneers aka Dixie Rainbows. If you raise a flock of Pioneers, you can keep a roo and a few pullets to give you future generations of meat birds. Pioneers are respectable layers, but they hit the feed trough pretty hard. I'd prefer not to put a Pioneer roo over a DP hen, because of his excess size, but a DP roo can easily cover a Pioneer hen. I put a Pioneer hen in my flock for a couple of years to beef up my DP carcass size. Free range both layers and meat birds if you are able. Invest in a good electronet system to thwart land predators. The problem with keeping a single flock with intent of having that much meat production is that a large meaty DP bird will not be a great layer. And a great layer is not going to give you a nice meaty carcass. Your feed conversion rate will be poor for both eggs and meat. By specializing in both layers and meat birds, you will get good feed conversion for both. You will need a good incubator. By spending an afternoon, you can build an incubator that will easily rival the more expensive ones you can buy. If you could wire a lamp with good written instructions, you are capable of making an incubator.
    1 person likes this.

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