If you ask us, too many eggs ain't enough eggs!
One of our followers on social media recently asked the question:
"How many chickens would I need in order to feed a family of four for the year?"
Now, in our opinion - the more the merrier. We're in a different category than most people though - more eggs for us means more meals donated for veterans, and so if our chickens overshoot our estimates then we consider that a win! But, recognizing that other folks may have less of a desire for surpluses of food piling up, we'll do our best to give accurate representations of what to expect.
To answer this question, we're going off the assumption that the questioner will be eating eggs for just one meal of the day (you're gonna need A LOT of chickens if you're looking to truly feed your family with just chickens 😅).
How Many Eggs Would A Chicken Lay If A...
As it turns out, chickens aren't woodchucks - the question of "how much" isn't a riddle with chickens. We can tell you (approximately) how many eggs a chicken will lay! The yearly amount will vary from breed to breed, so we'll just give you a look at two of our favorite laying breeds: the Barred Rock and ISA Brown
Barred Rocks are one of the mainstays on Fulcrum Farm. One of the primary reasons we love them is their inherent protection from predators - their feathers have a hawk-like pattern to them that deceive and ward off would-be predators. Aside from being well-inured birds though, they're also productive layers. Barred Rocks average anywhere from 200-250 eggs a year, per bird. That's roughly 4 eggs a week.
ISA Brown are the queens of output. Unlike most breeds that cease their egg production in the winter months, ISA Browns will continue to lay through the colder seasons. The trade-off of their continuous output is a shorter lifespan. You can expect an ISA hen to live about 3 years, whereas the average lifespan of other breeds is around 8 years. While they may not be around for a long time, they make the most of the time they do have. ISA Brown's yearly output averages out to 350 eggs per year. With these hens, you'd be looking at 6+ eggs a week.
According to USDA data from 2011, a single American consumed 245 eggs per year.
So, for a family of four, the total eggs consumed in a household would equal 980 per year.
That's 4.5 eggs per week, per person.
To meet that demand, you'd be looking at a flock of 6-7 chickens, depending upon which breeds you chose.
(This is assuming a conservative estimate of 200 eggs per year, taking into account inevitable losses - a hen dies, a chick doesn't make it in transport, cold weather, etc.)
The question then becomes, how much would it cost to feed a family of four with backyard eggs?
First off you'll need to buy the chicks. Baby chicks usually cost between $3-$5 per bird.
You'll need a place to house your chicks, of course. A basic chicken coop can run you from "very cheap" (there are plenty of DIY plans out there) to a few hundred bucks. To be more conservative, let's say you'll spend $600 on a coop for 10 birds.
Once you've given them a roof over the head, you'll probably want to make sure they have food to eat...On average it costs about $0.15 a day to feed one chicken. That's about $45 a month, or $540 a year, to feed 10 layers. You can supplement the cost of feed by free-ranging your chickens (which may require some added fencing depending on your situation) or feeding them your food scraps after meals!
Let's toss in an extra $100 for miscellaneous expenses that may arise over the course of the year, just for fun.
So to recap you'll be spending:
- $35 to buy the chicks.
- $600 for a coop.
- $540 for a year's worth of feed.
- $100 worth of random expenses.
This brings your grand total to $1,275 in the first year!
Note: you only need to buy a coop once, so after your first year the only recurring expenses will be the cost of feed. After your first year, you can expect to pay around $540 per year.
Let's compare that with the cost of purchasing your eggs from the grocery store...
- 18 eggs per week (1.5 dozens) / $7 per dozen of free-range/pasture-raised eggs = $10.5 per week.
- $10.5 per week multiplied by 54 weeks comes out to...
- $567 per year!
This means you SAVE $27 per YEAR (after your first year) by producing eggs in your backyard! Add to that the fact that you get your very own composters/trash compactors and it becomes a no-brainer...
Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Eggs?
If you ask us, the answer is no. When it comes to eggs, we feel it's always better to have "too many" as opposed to not enough. They'll last a long time on the shelf, they're incredibly versatile, and as we can tell you - they make for great meal donations! Whether you're looking to feed as many people as possible or you're just looking to feed your family, we're strong believers that the closer you are to your food the better off you and everyone else will be!