Friday, September 26, 2014

Why do we have so many chickens?

You could just as easily ask "why do we sell eggs?" or  "what came first, the chicken or the egg?".

so many chickens....

First we had some chickens, and they laid eggs and we ate eggs every day, but then winter came and we had chickens, but not always eggs.  So we realised that if we wanted to eat eggs every day in winter we would need more chickens, and we bought and hatched more chickens.  And now we have too many eggs in spring and summer.  So we sell the eggs.

We currently have 21 hens and 5 roosters (soon to be two roosters as soon as there's some space in the freezer for the other three).  The hens lay 12-14 eggs/day.  We eat 1-2 eggs each per day.  I bring the excess eggs to work to sell.  I sell them for $5/carton.  I used to sell the eggs for much less, but fortunately for us, people in Brisbane are happy to pay a fair price for the eggs.  At this rate we can cover our feed costs through spring and summer, so on balance through the year, it doesn't cost us any extra to keep the chickens (also considering that we use the old hens for meat when they stop laying).  I mentioned this a while back when I was only getting $3.50/carton, but the economics are much better now.

If you are thinking about getting chickens remember that your chickens will probably stop laying through winter, if not the first year, then definitely the second year.  If you want to sell eggs, remember that you will only have excess eggs in spring and summer.  To work out the ideal number of hens, work out how many eggs you want in winter, and how much you can sell the eggs for when you have excess vs how much it will cost you to feed the hens through the year.  

.....and so many eggs
Legally, we are not really supposed to sell eggs in Queensland unless we are accredited with Food Safety Queensland and "have an approved food safety program that shows they are controlling and reducing significant food safety hazards in the production of their eggs".  No wonder eggs are so expensive!  Lucky I sell my eggs for hatching, not for human consumption.....

Some of the tips in that link apply to both eggs for eating and for hatching:
  • Eggs should be clean and not broken
  • Egg cartons should be clean (I reuse clean cartons only)
I don't wash eggs because I don't want to remove the natural "bloom" layer that protects the eggs.  If eggs are a little dirty, I wipe them with a dry cloth.  Any eggs that need more than a dry cloth I don't sell, but I wipe with a damp cloth before I use them.  They are no good for hatching, so best to just eat them.

This brings me to the interesting question of refrigerating eggs.  Through the cooler months we do not refrigerate eggs, and I think this useful because for most recipes its better to have eggs at room temperature.  However, as we have roosters and most of our eggs are fertile, in the hotter summer months it is better to refrigerate our eggs so that customers do not receive a nasty surprise.  Eggs that are washed should also be refrigerated.

How many hens do you keep and do you sell the eggs?




By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


10 comments:

  1. Oh I bet your eggs are tasty, and it is good that you have an outlet for the excess. Do fertile eggs taste different? do they have more nutrition?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really not sure on either question! I think our eggs taste great (and I get the same feedback from other people), but I'm not sure exactly why, I suspect it is more to do with the genuine free-ranging.

      Delete
  2. All good information. Regards Kathy A,Brisbane

    ReplyDelete
  3. We do the same thing, except I don't have rooster, so I buy in point of lay pullets each year. I built up to this number and after a decade have reached the point where I have about 15 hens. I buy 3 each year - and about three die of old age each year, which means we have plenty of eggs all year round, especially now there's just the two of us at home. I'm vegetarian, so our old girls are just left to die of old age - they eat so much less once they stop laying, that I figure I can reward them with a retirement home. (But if I liked meat, I'd eat them: I'm not an 'ethical vegetarian.')

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have just put our egg price up from $4 to $5 this week too. Food cost is expensive when the girls are off lay. I also refridgerate mine as we now have a rooster. We have 19 girls at the moment and getting about 9 - 14 eggs a day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We have about 16 hens at the moment and one rooster. There are always broody girls and chickens, so our flock is growing. We had a few chooks taken by foxes over winter, in the middle of the day! I have learned not to let them out if it is a dark drizzly day as foxes are around. The girls are laying between 7-10 eggs a day, and we sell our excess for $3 a carton. As well as our regular buyers, there are always people dropping in to see if we have eggs, and hubby has been talking about raising the price to cover our expenses. I don't refrigerate unless I have an abundance of eggs.

    x

    ReplyDelete
  6. We always seem to end up with more eggs than we need. Every now and then we have a determined chook lay a batch of eggs and hatch them behind our backs! I'm often amazed at how many hens we can have without receiving eggs. We tend to eat LOTS of egg meals in spring/summer and occasionally give away or swap some. That's good that you get some return for your excess.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi .. I sell my eggs for $5 too and I think that is pretty reasonable. I would love to get some more birds - I have 12 chooks and a strapping rooster called Colin. Handsome lad ... We had a real dearth of eggs this past winter, so I'll definitely be hatching some more chicks this coming summer. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for all your comments, I love hearing about other people's chickens and eggs!

    ReplyDelete
  9. We have 9 hens and one rooster. We do not sell our extra eggs we just supply our two grown children's families and a neighbor with fresh eggs every week. I am sure we could make a little extra by selling them, but I get so much satisfaction being able to share them.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Never miss a post! Sign up here for our weekly email...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Suggested Reading