Tiny Home Living Blog
The Benefits Of Raising Your Own Eggs
Have you ever woken up to the crowing of the rooster? The melody of our feathered friends greeting the rising sun. How would it be to crack an egg, watch it sizzle in the pan, and know that it came from your own hens within a hundred feet of where you are standing.
People are wanting to make a lesser impact on the environment around them and be more resourceful. Raising your own chickens is one way you can do that. Imagine the infrastructure that it takes to bring an egg to your pan from a factory farm. What came first, the chicken or the egg? We will begin with the chicken. The chickens that are specifically dedicated to laying the hatching eggs are housed in buildings that keep thousands of birds. These eggs are then packaged and shipped off to hatcheries, that have large incubators set up to hatch tens of thousands of chicks. After the chicks are hatched, they are hauled off to layer barns designed to house large numbers of birds.
Some of these chickens are kept in cages, others are cage-free, roaming on the floor; while others may have access to outside. If you have ever passed any of these facilities you will see the energy that it takes to run one, and smell the ammonia-like scent that these chickens live in every day. No windows means lighting is managed with artificial lights, and there is tunnel ventilation by running huge fans. The feed is distributed through an automatic feeder system because it would be a monumental task to hire workforce to manually feed thousands of chickens each day. When it’s time to produce eggs to be sold, the daily task of gathering the eggs into one central area by a conveyor belt system begins. The eggs are then fed through an automatic washer and packing machine. Once they are packaged, the cartons of eggs are hauled to a distribution center that will then distribute the eggs to grocery stores. This is the cycle that most American consumers come in contact with the eggs that have become a staple in our morning meal.
Now that we have reviewed the process that it takes to bring a commercially raised egg to market, let’s review what it takes to raise our own. If you are just starting out, I would recommend buying chicks, however, you can choose to hatch your own chicks or buy chicks. Chicks can be ordered from most feed stores or farm stores. Some of these stores will have particular times of the year when chicks will be for sale. You can also purchase pullets, young hens, from hatcheries by searching online. Your chickens will start laying eggs anywhere from 14-24 weeks old depending on the breed. You will want a shelter with nesting boxes for your chickens to go inside to roost; lay their eggs. A good rule of thumb for sizing the nesting boxes in your chicken coop is three square feet per bird. If you prefer to give your chickens more space, you can order an outside run with your chicken coop or create one with a portable poultry net.
You will want to always double-check the latch on your chicken coop door each night to prevent predators from finding your precious egg-laying friends. Predators will be your biggest enemy if you raise chickens of your own. This is good to keep in mind when choosing your coop and outside run, to be sure it’s as predator-proof as possible. When it comes to feeding your hens, each morning you will want to give them a small portion of Non-GMO layer mash, which can be purchased from your local feed store. You may also decide to feed your chickens vegetable scraps.
As for the benefit of raising your own chickens, on average you can expect to have a little less than one egg per chicken a day. If you have ten hens you will have approximately eight eggs per day once they have all started to lay. When you gather your eggs they tend to stay fresher if you do not wash them. Washing the eggs rids a natural membrane covering the egg that helps preserve its freshness. As long as you keep clean bedding in the nest boxes your eggs should be kept clean, eliminating the need to wash them.
Now that you have set up your own egg-producing facility you can see that it takes minimal infrastructure, compared to a large factory farm that produces large numbers of eggs. Not to mention all the transporting that occurs in delivering the eggs to your door. When you raise your own chickens, you can count how many steps the eggs travel from when they are produced until they start sizzling in the frying pan.
This alone creates enough excitement to step up and try your hand at raising your own eggs. You may want to ask around your neighborhood, you could be surprised how many of your neighbors may be interested in supporting your small enterprise by purchasing fresh eggs from you.