What is the minimum number of hens?

MeghanR

Hatching
9 Years
Jun 13, 2010
2
0
7
I am in the very beginning/planning stages of research and considering raising a few chickens (for eggs/pets). I have a lot to learn before I undergo this adventure. My first question is - Are there a minimum number of hens to keep so that they are secure and happy? Can as few as 2 or 3 be kept?
 

gryeyes

Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
15,506
381
358
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
I would recommend starting with no less than 3. Chickens are social creatures and need company of their own kind. If you start with 2, and something happens to one (not that it WILL, but just in case it does), then you've got a solo bird. So, 3 is what I would consider a minimum number.
 

MeghanR

Hatching
9 Years
Jun 13, 2010
2
0
7
thanks - I didn't even think of that. Three seems like a good number for a residential setup and only two adults in the household to eat the eggs:)
 

mboreham1

Songster
10 Years
Dec 14, 2009
293
4
121
Carmichael, CA
you will see it repeated over and over on here - prepare for more than what you think you will want. I started with 3, i now have 8! Once you get hold of the little things you will want to add different breeds, maybe try hatching, your friends will want your eggs etc! It is just me and my wife, we dont eat that many eggs - maybe 3 per week each, we sell the others, not for profit, just enough to pay for the food, so dont worry about the eggs!

I am in a fairly urban area, i live on about .24 of an acre, i started with total free range but the chickens like to eat everything, so now they have their own picket fence run.

Good luck with the research, this website is a gold mine. I promise you will love keeping chickens, it is totally theraputic, i work for a bank, have a very stressful job, my chickens are my refuge along with my vegetables!
 

emrys

Songster
10 Years
Sep 3, 2009
145
5
101
I had three pullets that were quite happy together. In another pen I had one hen and a rooster who were also quite content with their living arraingment. The two groups had access to the same fenced back yard during the daytime but stayed in two distinct flocks. One of the pullets died. The remaining two pullets were not happy "alone." They started hanging with the rooster and hen even though there was some growling and pecking. After a few days the pullets stopped returning to their little dog crate coop and followed the older pair to the coop in the barn. They intergrated themselves at about the time I was planning a merge anyway. All that is to say in my experience, chickens seem to like three or four flock members rather than just two if they have a choice. From an egg prespective, three or four hens can lay plenty of eggs for a small family. I have all the eggs I need for myself and regularly give away a half dozen here and there to friends and family. If you start with just a few and find that you really like keeping chickens, you can always add more. If you discover you don't mesh well with chickens you have fewer to find homes for and have spent less learning this isn't your thing.
 
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Charles07

Songster
9 Years
Apr 10, 2010
166
0
109
Sheridan, Indiana
Yeah, I told myself "I will take the 11 chickens given to me and that's it.".

I now have 22, with an incubator full of eggs, and plan on hatching almost constantly.
 

cobrien

Songster
10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
576
11
141
Oakland, CA
For city chicken keeping I'd start with 3, and plan on adding 2-3 in 2-4 years depending on how many survive 2-4 years, how much the older ones are still laying, whether or not you want to cull or eat older hens when their laying slows, and/or how many eggs you want. I keep my old hens, so I'd build the coop to hold 5-6 so that you can add new hens later. As others mentioned, it is very addicting, but also for practical reasons, namely keeping egg production up as the hens age and egg production slows so you might want to be prepared to expand.
 

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