Recommendation for backyard egg layers

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by switters, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. switters

    switters In the Brooder

    Nov 3, 2008
    We're planning to begin raising chickens for eggs. We live in an urban area and have a medium-size backyard. Our coop will probably be about 6x8, and we're hoping to have about 12 birds.

    I'm hoping you can recommend a breed based on these criteria:

    1. Egg production. This is our main purpose in having chickens, and at present we don't plan to raise them for meat.

    2. Temperament. We have neighbors on all sides and since these are our first chickens we want to make it easy on ourselves.

    3. Appearance. We'd like it if at least some of the birds are beautiful to look at, even if that means less egg production from those particular birds.

    4. Do well in a confined space. Our backyard isn't tiny, but it isn't huge either so our chickens will have to be able to get along in a relatively contained space. We have a vegetable garden in the back too so that is another consideration.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. herechickchick

    herechickchick Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    Memphis TN
    I have a mixed laying flock in my urban back yard and I have a Black Orpington, a Speckled Sussex, a Buff Brahma, a Rhode island Red, a White Crested Blue Polish and a White Silkie. I plan to add a Silver laced polish, a Barred Rock, a Barred EE, a Buff and Light Sussex and a few Brown Red Ameraucanas in the spring. All of my girls lay well and are good in their pen. I do free range after work and all day Sunday, they are really happy.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    All chickens are beautiful to look at once they are YOUR chickens [​IMG] (Well ok, I'd have to demur on naked-neck and frizzles, but that's just me <g>)

    If egg production is really important to you, I'd suggest black or red sex-links from a line of friendly birds (that is, ask around to talk to people who've gotten chicks from the particular source you're considering yours from, and find out about their temperament -- most sex-links have good temperament but there are apparently some grumpy lines out there too).

    Buff Orps would be another logical recommendation.

    Or anything else that comes from a source where you can know what the temperament and laying ability will be like... i.e. a person who breeds them rather than a mail-order hatchery.

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]!

    Finding a local source as Pat suggests is a good idea. It's like gardening, over the backyard fence advice is usually best.

    Breed generalities: I don't think you could go too far wrong with Barred Rocks and Black Australorps. These birds are what I have in my backyard and both breeds are making return engagements. They both lay well.

    If you go with black sex-links, they are probably the hybrid offspring of Barred Rocks. I've never owned any sex-link hens but my brother was very fond of his red sex-links.

    I would think carefully before I put 12 chickens in an urban backyard. Do you really think you need that many? Even 3 or 4 hens have provided a surplus of eggs for our little family. I like to think that every person should have one chicken (1 person = 1 chicken), however, only some of us are planning to eat between 200 and 300 eggs each year. Twelve chickens . . . . !!

  5. providentialpastures

    providentialpastures In the Brooder

    Aug 19, 2008
    I don't know your exact situation, but here are some breeds that meet your individual criteria:

    Egg Production- Rhode Island Reds, Production Reds, White Leghorns, Black Australorps, and the Red and Black Stars

    Temperament- DO NOT GET A WHITE EGG LAYER ROOSTER, THEY WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY WITH THEIR INCESSANT CROWING (They were however, delicious). Leghorns and Production Reds are typically mean, but most brown egg layer hens are fairly nice, especially breeds like Buff Orpingtons and White Rocks. Black Australorps are also fairly nice. None of the last three breeds have been noisy in my past experiences. Red and Black Stars are not very noisy but their behavior is mediocre.

    Appearance- I have different ideas than most people when it comes to appearance. To me, Silkies are the ugliest, most ridiculous things I have ever seen in my life. I have no suggestions except to pick the ones you like.

    Do well in confined areas- I should say the Black Australorps and Buff Orpingtons would do well in such an area. Red and Black Stars would probably do fine also. As for the above mentioned Rhode Island Red (not Production Red), you would have to ask about confining them. How big is your yard anyway? Depending on its size twelve chickens might be too much.

    You will be paying for them, Ipso Facto, you should select the exact breed.

  6. providentialpastures

    providentialpastures In the Brooder

    Aug 19, 2008
    I just saw you have a 48 sq. foot coop. This will mean each bird will have four square feet per bird which might not be enough for twelve chickens.

    A quick afterthought, make sure it is legal to get chickens, you would be very surprised at some of the areas that can't have chickens due to certain onerous laws.
  7. switters

    switters In the Brooder

    Nov 3, 2008
    Thanks to everyone for your replies.

    There are four adults in our home and we all eat 2-4 eggs per day. (If you're concerned about our cholesterol levels, don't be! The belief that eating cholesterol raises cholesterol levels in the blood has been completely debunked.)

    That means we'd need between 8-16 eggs/day to completely meet our demand. I figured 12 chickens would be a good median.

    Our backyard is fairly large for an urban area: I'm going to guess 500+ square feet. There's plenty of room for a 6x8 coop (we haven't built it yet). But how much room do we need for them to roam during the day? Is there a calculation per chicken (i.e. # of square feet of roaming space per chicken)?

    It's legal to have chickens here. Our neighbors have them as well.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks &amp; Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    You need a minimum of 4 sq. feet per standard sized chicken in the coop and double that in the run.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    My favorite all-round backyard breed is the Barred Plymouth Rock. They do well in heat and cold and are friendly and excellent layers. When they get past the pullet-egg stage, the eggs are very large. A flock with those and Buff Orpingtons to me would be a great flock.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008

  10. providentialpastures

    providentialpastures In the Brooder

    Aug 19, 2008
    The space inside the coop depends on the space outside the coop and the time the birds spend foraging. When my 45 hens roost they only have about 36 square feet, but they don't care, they could do with 2/3 the space they have now. I however rotationally pasture my chickens on 15 acres so they have a near infinite amount of outside space. The coop you suggest would probably be good enough for 24 chickens as long as they spend most of their time outside.

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