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PLEASE HELP! How Many Birds Do I Want?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by daabree, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. daabree

    daabree Hatching

    Feb 5, 2009
    Hey there;

    I am new to this chicken farming thing and would appreciate some help.

    I am doing a project on homestead chicken farming. I would like some help figuring out the following:
    1) which breed is good for egg AND meat? I am thinking Red Stars (Sex Link). Good choice?
    2) how many chickens, and what cock to hen ratio, will I need if I intend to support a family of four PLUS have a surplus of eggs/meat to sell?

    Thank you for you help
  2. Master S.M.C

    Master S.M.C Songster

    Jan 23, 2009
    1). good egg and meat breed: Wyandotte.

    2). I would say there is no real limit on how much you can keep, although a good ratio is 6-10 hens per rooster.
  3. NurseELB

    NurseELB Songster

    Oct 16, 2008
    Lacey, WA
    What you'll WANT is as many as you can get! [​IMG]
    Although coup size determines how many you should have- Good Luck!

    eta [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  4. [​IMG]

    My favorites are EE's, Barred Rocks, and RIR's. I would order at least 15 birds!!! You will always want more birds than you have!!!! [​IMG]
  5. Cats Critters

    Cats Critters Completely Indecisive 10 Years

    1) which breed is good for egg AND meat?

    Try this link\\quiz to find a good breed: http://www.mypetchicken.com/breedQuestions.aspx

    2) how many chickens, and what cock to hen ratio, will I need if I intend to support a family of four PLUS have a surplus of eggs/meat to sell?

    rosters to hens 8:10, I think what I read is that 4 hens to one person so that's 12 just for the family for eggs, So I would order 50 strait-run and eat extra roos and the worst hens and then hatch a batch form them and keep the best and eat the rest and just keep doing that.
    (Can you tell I really what to do this with a meat flock)​
  6. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    You need to determine how many eggs you need for your family and how many you need to have left over to sell over the course of a year. Divide that number of eggs by the number of eggs per year the breed you select will lay (200 is a very, very rough starting number,) and you will have the number of chickens you need. Add a few more for those that disease or predators may claim and an extra one or two to make up for those that simply won't produce. That's the only way you can determine how many hens you need. Only you can know how many you will use and how many you wish to sell. To tell you to buy 15 or 15 thousand is meaningless.

    Keep in mind that there will be times when you get relatively few eggs (winter) and other times the birds will seem like they are working overtime.

    Since no one here can give you any meaningful answers, you will get a bunch that says buy all you can. Get the number you need and can properly house and care for and enjoy them. Be practical. There is nothing wrong with that. (I certainly like having chickens around but a half-dozen is a good sized flock for me right now and I have no need to acquire more and more.)

    You do not need any roosters unless you want to be able to hatch eggs to replace hens in the future.


    {edited for spelling}
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  7. ctcasper

    ctcasper Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    We chose buff orpingtons for a layer and a meat bird and were very happy with how big our butchered birds were. We have 7 hens and 2 roos, but the hens are over mated, so we are going to be adding probably 4 to 6 more hens this summer. I know most people recommend 8 hens to one roo. With our seven hens we are getting four eggs almost every day in the winter, we hope to get more in the summer, last year we would get as many as 7, but most of the time it was an average of 5. I would think you would have to figure out how many eggs you needed for the four of you and how many you want to sell, per week and then buy enough birds to produce that.

    Our red sex link is our best layer, but she is quite a bit smaller than the four buffs, our barred rock roos we butchered were also smaller than the buffs. I think they are the best meat bird that also lays.
  8. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Looking again at your post, you talk about meat birds. That is a whole other set of numbers that only you can determine.

    Looking further at your post, I'm wondering if you are asking us how many chickens you need to support your family? This goes beyond feeding your family with a few eggs left over to sell. You talk about being new to "chicken farming." This is a "backyard chicken" forum and as such, few people here, if any, are commercial chicken farmers. I've farmed before, though not chickens, and had an aunt and uncle who was in that thankless business of commercial chicken farming.

    You will likely need to start your research elsewhere if you want meaningful answers to your questions if you are talking about generating a livable income. I'd start with your state's Extension office. Those decisions are best based on practical advice and data and not that from a bunch of us backyard hobbyists. Think "investment" and "business plan."

  9. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    Wayne I dont think they are talking about commercial chicken farming. But I could be wrong. [​IMG]
  10. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    This is a good chart with quite a bit of information on it. http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html it is the full listing, to get a reduced chart that has only the breeds that the author (john henderson) has personal experience with, go to the top and click on the 'our flock' link and see what he and his family have raised. You'll see which are dual purpose, (good for both meat and eggs) but keep in mind, the meat is not 'that' wonderful in most of those breeds. If you want real meaties, go for actual broilers. Though I don't reccomend those necessarily the first time around, once you have them you really can't change your mind if you decide you 'd rather not butcher... they really suffer if they aren't butchered due to their characteristics.

    I agree with Waynesgarden where he says only get as many as you feel comfortable that you have both room and time for, otherwise you'll all be unhappy...

    I actually don't agree about ordering 'straight run' since I just don't see straight runs coming as 50/50 pullets/roos anymore, I think they pull hen chicks out to fill out the pullet orders, and that leaves a LOT of roos for you. Order pullets of the breeds you want, and get a few roos to balance it out. They never gaurantee 100% accuracy on most orders anyway, so even when you order pullets, you may still get a roo or two.

    It's true you may want to butcher the excess cockerals, but you may just wind up with a LOT more than you bargained for there!

    Keep us posted about how it all goes!! We all have enquiring minds!!! ((that means we're NOSY!!! In a nice way.))

    [edit] Red stars are mostly for laying... they produce a lot of eggs and are very nice birds for that, only minimally good for meat. The good old dual purpose breeds are meatier. (all just my opinion of course, but there you go!)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009

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