Do you need roosters for hens to lay eggs?
How often do chickens lay eggs?
Will owning pet chickens put me in violation of town ordinance?
How much care do pet chickens require?
Why do chickens lay different-colored eggs?
Are brown eggs healthier for you than white eggs?
Will the eggs my pet chickens lay taste better than store-bought?
How much do chickens cost?
Will I save money by having chickens?
Where can I get a pet chicken for myself?
Can chickens fly?
Do chickens really "come home to roost"?
How noisy are chickens?
How big are chickens?
Is there really such a thing as a "pecking order"?
Can I have just one pet chicken?
What happens if one of my chickens gets sick?
Do cats attack chickens?
Do you have to give chickens baths?
How long do chickens live?
I have a beautiful Easter Egger, and I was wondering if she could be an Ameraucana because she looks like one. Does she meet the breed standard?
A: No. This is one of the most common misconceptions
about chickens. Hens will lay eggs just as well in the
absence of roosters. If roosters are present, however, the
eggs may be fertilized!
A: That depends on three main factors:
- The breed of chicken. Some chickens are bred for meat production and lay few eggs;
some are bred for egg production and can lay as often as once a day; some are bred as "dual purpose" and
are good for both egg-laying and meat, although not optimal for either.
- The hen's age. Hens start to lay at 4-5 months of age, and lay best during their
first year. Each year after that their production decreases.
- The season. In the winter (with fewer daylight hours), egg production drastically
decreases. High laying season is summer.
A healthy, young hen bred for egg-laying can lay almost an egg a day!
A: Maybe. Some municipalities allow residents to keep poultry and some don't. The best thing
to do is check with your local municipal, zoning, and health boards.
A: They're much easier than dogs: no walking, no twice-daily feeding, no baths, no grooming.
With the proper housing they're a very low-maintenance pet:
- Daily: a "checking on", egg collection, and closing the coop if you've let them out.
- As necessary: fill feed and water containers.
- Monthly: change bedding and remove that free fertilizer (poo) so it can be put to good use!
- Twice a year: a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the coop.
Read more about the ongoing care chickens require in Chapter 6 of our free e-book,
The My Pet Chicken Guide to Chicken Care.
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A: They just do! Different breeds lay different-colored
eggs. Eggs come in many different colors - light brown,
deep chocolate brown, white, off-white, pinkish and even
green and blue! Some also lay speckled eggs.
A couple of key facts:
- An individual bird's eggs will remain basically the same color all the time.
- There can be variation in the shade of egg colors amongst individuals within a
breed, but not the base color (brown, white, blue etc.).
- One way to tell what color egg a chicken will lay is to look at her earlobe! A hen
with a white earlobe will always lay white eggs, whereas hens with red earlobes can lay brown, blue or green eggs.
- Araucana and Ameraucana breeds, also known as the "Easter Egg Chickens", famously
lay varying shades of green and blue eggs
For more on which breeds lay which color egg, see Chapter 3 of our free e-book,
The My Pet Chicken Guide to Chicken Care, or give our
Which Chicken? tool a whirl!
A: No, the color of the egg has no effect on how healthy it
is. However, how chickens are kept DOES have an effect
on how healthy the eggs are! See the next question for
more on this topic.
A: Without a doubt. The chickens in your backyard
will lay eggs unlike any you've tried before. A good
rule of thumb: the more orange the egg yolk, the more
healthy and better-tasting the egg is. Plus,
shows that if you allow your chickens to roam your yard
freely (which we highly recommend you do) your eggs
will be higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and lower in
cholesterol, among other health benefits.
A: Baby chicks cost $1-$5 each, depending on a variety
of factors including the sex (females are more
expensive than males) and how rare the breed. Started pullets (young hens that have just
started laying eggs) should cost $15-$25 each.
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A: No more so than a gardener would growing tomatoes. If you're currently buying cage-free organic eggs, you may be able to break even by
having your own chickens. There are lots of great reasons to have your own chickens, but saving money is not one of them.
A: You can get grown chickens from a local farmer, or
you can get baby chicks from a hatchery.
Here's a list of hatcheries and farms that we know of...
A: Sort of. Smaller (lighter) breeds, and "bantams"
-- which are the same as "standard" breeds but about 1/4
the size -- can fly 25-50 feet and will roost in trees
if allowed to. Heavier breeds have much more limited
A: Yes! Chickens will come back to the same place to
sleep every night -- so you can let your chickens roam
your yard during the day and when it gets dark they will
return to their coop to catch up on their beauty rest. (A
"roost" is a pole they perch on, which they much prefer
to sleeping on the ground.)
A: Roosters are VERY noisy, and contrary to
popular belief, they don't just crow in the morning.
They crow all day long. Hens are much
quieter -- you basically won't hear them until they've just
laid an egg, or if they're threatened.
A: "Standard" chickens weigh 4-7 pounds depending on
the breed and the sex (roosters weigh more than hens).
"Bantam" chickens -- which are the same as
standard chickens, only smaller -- weigh 1-2 pounds.
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A: Yes. This is a very real phenomenon. All
chicken flocks have a well-defined pecking order. It's their way of preventing mayhem.
The lucky chicken at the top of the pecking order
basically gets to push everyone around. She gets first access to food,
water, prime roosting spots and so on. If she doesn't like what anyone
else is doing she has full pecking rights. She gets to tell any other chicken to bug off.
The poor baby at the bottom of the pecking order is in the exact opposite
situation: everyone in the flock can peck her, and she has last rights
to food and other resources.
The other chickens in a flock fall somewhere between these two extremes.
The #2 chicken can only be bullied by the #1 chicken and can
bully everyone else in turn, and so on and so on.
Pecking order is established at a very early age and usually remains unchallenged until death.
A: You shouldn't. Chickens are social creatures and they
will not do well alone. We advise a
minimum of two.
A: Take it to a veterinarian that
specializes in avian medicine or farm animals.
A: In the vast majority of cases, no, but you do hear of this once in a while. Most cats are more intimidated by
grown chickens than chickens are of them. Baby chicks
are more at risk because they're helpless, but again in
our experience cats aren't interested in them. Better to
take precautions, though! (Dogs can also be a danger to
this YouTube video with Cesar Milan to see
how he socialized one dog with the family's chickens...)
A: No! Chickens take dust baths
that keep them clean and free of pests. However, if you plan on showing your chickens in a
Poultry Show, you'll want your
bird looking her best, so you can wash them with a gentle cleanser and blow them dry.
A: It's common to hear of a pet chicken living eight to ten years. Once in a while you hear reports of 15 years or more! However, it
is a rare bird indeed that can live that long.
A: If you purchased your bird from a farm store or a major hatchery, your bird is an Easter Egger. Ameraucanas only
come in certain explicit colors, and in addition, have other standards they must meet such as a specific body size,
a specific angle at which their tail must be held from their body, a specific color of their legs, length of neck,
color of eye and so on.
Even if, an Easter Egger were to meet all these qualifications, she still wouldn't be a true Ameraucana,
because her genetic make-up wouldn't allow her to breed true. That is, her children wouldn't look the same as she
does or carry the same characteristics. She is not the Ameraucana breed-she just happens to be a beautiful mixed
breed whose appearance is similar in some ways. You shouldn't enjoy her any less just because she is not an Ameraucana.
Easter Eggers are great! However, if you purchased her from a hatchery that sold her to you under an incorrect name,
we suggest you write them and urge them to correct their error.
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