Due to my apparent need to feed the wildlife last year, and my stray dog, my chicken population went from twenty down to 3 lonely hens. I am now in the long process of raising laying hens again. It is very hard to find healthy hens of laying age that are reasonably priced. Hens begin to lay around 20 weeks of age. They are at their peak laying during their first few years. Hens that are within this range typically cost anywhere from $20 – $50 each plus shipping. Since I am price conscious, and I do not want to bring an ill hen into the flock, I opted for chicks.
I hatched a few last month, but 6 of the 10 are boys, so only 4 hens came out of that hatch. I bought 2 cute chicks from the farm supply in Herculaneum (actually bought 6, but the 4 had an unfortunate circumstance with a huge water jug). I bought 6 from the feed store by me tonight and I have 42 eggs in the incubator. Am I keeping all of these chicks? No. I’m going to sell the hatch that I have coming up – spreading the wealth of chicken keeping! This will leave me with fifteen hens:
I am expecting some Jersey Giant and some Appenzeller Spitzhauben hatching eggs at the beginning of June. I’ll probably keep some of each breed – maybe just a few more, then my max will be twenty. My new theory is that I should have extras, just in case of an occasional dog attack. I am considering building a pen just because of predators, but I think they’re much happier left to roam.