In my town there has been some zoning changes regarding keeping chickens. My town is part urban and part rural and keeping backyard chickens has become very popular. Unfortunately, some chicken owners have not been good to their neighbors by containing the noise from loud roosters and/or containing the flock to their own yards. On more than one occasion I’ve had to wait for a flock of chickens finish crossing the road to get to the other side.
Because of a few knuckle heads, my town changed its zoning regulations to restrict backyard chicken owners to 11 hens on less than 5 acres and no roosters. Honestly, I don’t blame the town for banning roosters – they can be noisy all day and night, some are aggressive and in my opinion are not needed if the reason for having chickens is to have fresh eggs.
A pullet (hen less than 1 year old) will begin to lay eggs around 5 months of age regardless if there is a rooster. Remember your basic biology, when a male mates with a female the result is a baby. However, some people think hens need roosters to lay eggs. If you want baby chicks then yes, you need a rooster.
Once a hen (pullet) is old enough, she will begin to produce an unfertilized egg every day like clockwork. She doesn’t need any help from a rooster to do her thing. I actually prefer to eat unfertilized eggs. On occasion I’ve had fertilized eggs that have had a bit of blood in them, which I find unappealing.
– Hens (or pullets) begin to lay eggs around 5 months of age.
– In the first year hen’s lay small eggs at least once every day and the eggs get gradually bigger as the hen ages.
– Two-year-old hens (depending on the breed) lay larger eggs, but may not lay every day but every other day.
– Three years and older, will lay large eggs less frequently and the older the hen is the less eggs she lays. This is why farmers turn over their flocks on the third year and bring in new pullets.
– A good laying hen in her prime on average can lay 250 – 280 eggs in a year! That’s 1 hen!
– Do you remember the jingle on TV back in the 1980’s– “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh?” Well that was a brilliant ad campaign. How many people fell for it? Do you see me raising my hand?
- Myth: The color of the eggshell does not determine the freshness of the egg. The color of the shell indicates it’s a breed of chicken that happens to lay a brown, white, or blue egg. People thought brown eggs were once white and had gone bad. Which is why egg producers created the commercial – to get people to buy brown eggs since only white eggs had been sold commercially.
To test if an egg is fresh place an egg in a bowl of water. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom. An old egg will float up to the surface of the bowl.
– Another slick marketing campaign used by some health food stores was claiming that fertile eggs are more nutritious than infertile eggs. The goal was to charge more for these “special” eggs.
- Myth: According to “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” there is no evidence that states that a fertile egg is more nutritious than an infertile egg.
– How many people do you know that gave up eggs (especially yolks) because they were told they cause high cholesterol?
- Myth: Eggs are high in cholesterol however; one would have to eat a lot of eggs to get their own cholesterol to rise. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic:
“Chicken eggs are high in cholesterol, but the effect of egg consumption on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared with the effect of trans fats and saturated fats.
The risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast — such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns.”
So enjoy your eggs!
THANK YOU for this post! I have long wanted chickens but have always thought I should wait until we can have the space (and the lack of neighbors) for a rooster, because we lived next to a place with a few roosters and WOW those guys are loud. Are pullets loud on their own or is it the mild and cute clucking only? And will she get lonely without any other chickens around? I figured they were flock animals and would be depressed without pals. I’m not sure why chicken mood is important to me, but anything under my care should be enthusiastically alive and happy, imo. 🙂
Hi Danielle – yes, hens can get loud but usually there is a reason for it and should be investigated. However, here is a situation that will happen frequently if you have more than 1 bird.
Hens that are not laying eggs get the poultry version of PMS which is called “a broody hen”. Usually the “girls” (as I call mine) seem to like laying their eggs in one particular nesting box. Some will go to another open box but more often than not, they preferred laying their egg in the favorite box. However, a broody hen sometimes wants to sit on a clutch of eggs and wont move until she either gets hungry, thirsty or lays an egg herself.
This becomes a problem for the other hens that haven’t laid their egg in that box. If the broody hen wont move and the other hen wont move to another box they have an argument. And it can get loud! The picture of my 2 Rhode Island hens in this posting is a broody hen pissing off another hen who really needs to lay her egg and she wanted that “B” to MOVE! Their argument was so loud my neighbor called asking what the heck was going on. She thought my chicken was getting eaten by something. When I opened the nesting box I found two hens arguing over a nesting box.
Usually hens are quiet when happy. A flock has their own language which you will learn if you observe them long enough. You will be able to tell if your girls are happy, upset or frightened. Happy hens will coo at you. Angry hens will cackle and squawk loudly. Frightened hens will just squawk and squawk at the top of their lungs and will be very animated and will try to get your attention. You will recognize it when you hear it.
Regarding your question on having 1 hen or more is up to you and the zoning codes where you live. I would choose a breed that is known for being tame. There are many to choose from so do your research and ask other backyard chicken owners about their birds personality. My daughter’s homecare nurse has a pet chicken. I forget the breed, but Goldie loves to come into her house and roost on the radiator follow the cats around. Goldie just loves the cats, although the cats are not impressed with her. Chickens believe it or not are social animals so like to be with other chickens, people or animals.
I’ll do another posting on flocks and pecking orders. Chickens can be cruel to each other – you’ve heard the phrase “hen pecked” – that’s when a flock decides who will be the lowest bird in the pecking order and they will make her wait to eat, drink and constantly pick on her pulling her feathers out etc. Sometimes they are so cruel they will kill her. I’ll share more on that later…
Good to know. Yeah, I have seen what chickens do to each other, which was part of my trepidation with them. They’re so PECKY.
I think it’s going to take some research, but I’ll float the idea with Russ and we’ll probably set a year or two year plan… so I look forward to the other chicken posts! Thank you!