Sustainable egg & meat flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Buckhowdy, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chirping

    Sep 14, 2014
    I'm wondering about how to manage the flock so that I can have a regular supply of product:

    • I'd like to get about 4-6 eggs per day, even in the winter.
    • I'd like to process 1 chicken per week maybe two.
    • My coop is 8X12 with a 4X8 partition for chicks and 6 pop-out nest boxes.
    • The county says I can have 25 chickens in my yard.

    So is it possible to get 6 eggs a day and have 1 chicken dinner per week with a flock of 25?

    Chicken math:

    • 3 chickens for 2 eggs per day (6/2)*3=9 laying hens - probably more in winter.
    • That would leave 25-9=16 slots for meat birds - probably less in the winter.
    • In order to have one bird per week I would have to process 16 birds by 16 weeks, have them in the freezer and start over with a new batch.
    • Heritage breeds would be kind of small at 16 weeks.

    I might need to just focus on egg production and supplement meat with store bought chicken???
  2. jaredthefox

    jaredthefox Chirping

    Jan 4, 2015
    Marshall Texas
    Your regulated to 25 "chickens" but you could create a "chick" cycle. I would not differentiate between laying hens and meat bird. I would choose a breed that does both fairly well. If you had 1 breed or a couple breeds that you like thsn you could build your own flock.

    The problem with using egg and meat birds for the same purpose is it takes 6 months to get eggs.
    If you had some freezer space it would help!

    For example
    You have your 25 chickens. They are laying. You hatch 25 chicks from those chickens. When they are 4-8 weeks old you begin harvesting a bird a week. By the time your chicks are full grown and laying your old flock is gone and the process starts over.

    That would give you much more than 6 eggs a week though.

    Another thought is you could just have 10 laying hens like Rhode Island reds for example
    And 15meat birds like red Rangers. Red Rangers get to around 6.5 lbs in 3 months. But they can also get old enough to lay eggs. So I would wait until they lay eggs. Get your 15 chicks started and than begin culling the meat birds.

    The reason I said it would be easier to do this if you had freezer space is so you could harvest all 15 of your meat birds when your chicks are at 2 months of age.
  3. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chirping

    Sep 14, 2014
    I bought a freezer recently. We've started to process Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds. We used a vacuum sealer and put them in the freezer. The birds were just starting to lay. Unfortunately one of the Reds we processed was full of yolks. The egg supply has dropped off a bit.

    I think I'll stick to duel purpose birds and try to maintain an egg supply that will take care of the family egg demand. I may have to go into winter with a full flock of laying hens to still make the egg quota of 6 eggs per day - not sure about that one.

    I have some roosters now that are 9 weeks old. I may keep one or two and see how the neighbors react. If all goes well I can have a sustainable backyard meat & egg factory. I'm guessing that's the way people used to do it not so long ago.

    I think the chick cycle will control a major factor in the operation. Chicks would have to stay inside the partition until they are two months old. After two months they can be integrated into the flock. Then the partition would be ready for a new batch of chicks.

    Besides 5 month old hens, I have a straight run of Barred Rocks and some male Rhode Island Red "packing peanuts" (they are free with small orders). They're 9 weeks old. They still stay mostly inside the partition even though I removed the door. I could start a new batch but I would have way to many chickens. If I culled more laying hens I wouldn't have enough eggs to keep up with demand. I could start culling the 9 week old chickens but it would take a few of them to make a meal.

    I could just eat more beef. The chickens wouldn't mind.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    If you were to get a broody breed (BOs have a reputation of being broody and would put some meat in your freezer or pantry when they are no longer laying), you could use a hen to hatch your chicks and integrate them into the flock for you. Of course, there is no guarantee a hen will go broody, or when. That can be a problem if you're trying to raise them on a schedule. Keep posting - it will be interesting and educational to see how your plans work out for you.
  5. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chirping

    Sep 14, 2014
    Let me try again.

    • You need 6 eggs per day.
    • You need 1 chicken per week.

    Question: How many and how often do you buy/hatch new chickens?

    You need 9 layers to get 6 eggs per day while your raising the replacement birds. If replacements need about 26 weeks to be in full laying mode, and you need 1 bird per week when this thing goes steady state. Then you will probably need to buy 26 chicks every 26 weeks or twice a year. But that means you would have to have 9+26 = 35 birds at anyone time. You would have to be an outlaw chicken raiser!

    Alternate law abiding scheme:

    • You need 4 eggs per day.
    • You need 1 chicken every other week.

    You need 6 layers to get 4 eggs per day while raising replacement birds. You process 25 - 6 = 19 birds put them in the freezer and buy 19 chicks and raise them for 26 weeks. That gives you (19/26) = 0.73 chickens per week to eat before you cull 19 more chickens including the 1 year old hens.

    But if you favor eggs over meat:

    • You need half of your flock to be laying and half to be replacement birds.
    • Assume an even number of birds - say 26.
    • 13 laying hens gives you 9 eggs per day.
    • For a 26 week cycle you would get (13/26) = .5 chickens per week to eat.
    • The chickens you eat are 1 year old (stew pot?)

    Maybe I should move to a bigger spread.
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Umm, that's too much math for my non-mathematical mind. If I want a certain number of chickens for my freezer, I get meat birds in the spring, grow them out for 8-12 weeks depending on the breed, butcher them all at once and get it over with. I can the meat from my layers when it's time to replace them. Last year I raised Freedom Rangers and let my broodies hatch out chicks. I got 7 more cockerels that we processed and canned when we did the hens. How large is your family that you need 6-9 eggs a day? Do you eat them every day? Just wondering how you arrived at your numbers.
  7. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chirping

    Sep 14, 2014
    There's only three of us but we've been eating two eggs each on most days. Do you keep your meat birds in the same coop/run with your layers?

    I just talked with neighbors in the subdivision. They have 23 hens and one rooster and own the restaurant in town. He told me he got 23 eggs today! They also told me that there is no limit on how many chickens you can have in the county. I don't think they have looked at the code though.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I think you're way over thinking this. You can have 25 birds. Get some layers that have a rep for being good winter layers. I recommend Wyandottes. They're also a nice sized bird, so you can process them after they stop laying. You might want to read up on how to assess a bird for laying, so you don't put your good layers on the dinner table. How big is your family? Will you also want to sell or give extra eggs away? You may THINK you'll use 4 - 6 eggs/day, but, UNLESS you have a huge family, you may find that, when there are 4 - 6 eggs being collected every day, they tend to pile up. So, erring on the side of caution, if you have 6 - 8 layers, that gives you room for 17 - 19 meat birds. The easiest and fastest way to get meat on your table is with CXR. They're table ready in 6 - 8 weeks. Or if you want to free range your meat birds, and you don't want to butcher them all at once, ane perhaps you want to keep a rooster and raise your own meat birds, you could get some Dixie Rainbows (also known as Pioneers) or Freedom Rangers. These birds are table ready around 12 weeks. (BTW, Pioneers are also good winter layers!) You COULD raise multiple broods throughout the year. Are you in a climate where it would be practical for you to brood them year round? If you don't have to brood in the winter, you may find that several batches will meet your needs, more economically b/c you don't have to run a brooder light for so long. Also, realize that with poultry, the decision you make for this year, does not have to be a forever decision. You may find that you need more layers, or more meat birds, and tweak the numbers accordingly in the next year. You may decide that you don't like Wyandottes, and want to try one of the hybrid egg laying machines... Eat the Wyandottes when they stop laying, and cycle in some sex links or leghorns. So, my recommendation is, don't worry so much about the math ratios, but just do it and have fun with it.
    2 people like this.
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Well, chickens really don't do the math, and certainly not every day. And they are seasonal, lay more during the longer days, less during the short days. They molt, and sometimes skip a day. So no matter what chickens you get, some days you will have more eggs than you need, and some days less eggs than you need. However, I do think that you can meet your needs with a mixture of birds and a freezer.

    I think you would do best with a couple of egg laying breeds, (4 say) and a couple dual purpose breeds (say 8). Delaware is a very good breed, that is a heavy body, and a reasonable egg layer.
    My thinking is that with a couple of egg laying breeds, then you could get by with the dual purpose layers and still make your quota of eggs. In the summer, freeze some eggs for the long cold days of deep winter. You can use them for baking or scrambled eggs, and generally get enough eggs for fresh eating.

    I have butchered in my laying flock, and the occasional extra roosters, however, if I wanted a bird in the pot every Sunday, I would do a meat bird (say 12) More meat for the money. With this set up, the 12 meat birds would be fryers, the dual purpose birds can soup or casseroles, and by adding just a couple of egg layers, you should meet your egg needs. You would have to keep adding the meat birds, but 12 birds = 3 months of once a week chicken meal.

    However, I am a cattle rancher's wife, so I am ALL FOR you eating BEEF!

    Mrs K
    1 person likes this.
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    You might check on the age of the birds you're allowed to have. I've seen folks have rules about birds over a specific age, say 8 weeks, but under that age there's no regulation.

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