Get Farm-Fresh Eggs From Your Laying Hens

Learn how to produce your own farm-fresh eggs without making that trip to a poultry farm. Including tips on building a hen house, selecting chicken breeds and keeping the flock healthy.

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    One-third of our barn is a laying pen. Simple and cheap feed and water equipment on a sturdy homemade stand keeps feed and water clean. Also, although it doesn't show up in this snapshot, wire is stretched between roosts and dropping board for sanitation.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    Our small all-purpose barn is 16 by 30 feet. Run at capacity this efficient little building houses up to 30 laying hens and a battery broiler in one section. In the other, four milk goats and six kids or lambs, plus a six-compartment metal rabbit hutch, squab loft, milking stand, also feed and hay. No-draft ventilation with plenty of sunlight is provided by four windows facing south. A second door at the far end (not visible) opens from the goat dairy section into the fenced pasture. Small hen door on the north side lets hens out into the yard. Floor is concrete, building is regular frame and sheathing construction with cedar shingles roof of heavy green mineral surface roofing. Water is piped from the house. Cost including equipment: materials $285, labor $240.
    Photo by Ed Robinson

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Perhaps this sounds fantastic, but we find that it's not much more work producing our own eggs than it is to make a weekly trip to a poultry farm to be sure we actually do have strictly fresh eggs. Our laying flock of 20 New Hampshires requires about seven minutes care per day and gives us, on the average, 11 eggs daily, year around.

Twenty hens require an 8-by-10 foot house, which costs about $75 new. But if your family uses only four eggs a day, a house for eight hens can be bought or made for as little as $30.

Eggs were the first project we attempted when we moved out of the city. We estimated how many eggs we'd like to eat. With three in the family we thought we wouldn't need more than two dozen a week.

In estimating year around egg production, figure a hen will lay an egg every other day if you can use six eggs a day, then plan on having a dozen hens. So, we bought a ready-made poultry house for $28, seven pullets for $11, a water pan for 50 cents and a feeder for 69 cents.

If you can drive a nail and cut a straight line with a saw, you can build your own poultry house. If you want to, you can buy a "knock-down" poultry house and assemble it. You'll find them advertised in poultry magazines, just be sure to write for catalogues and compare prices as they vary quite widely.

For the first week, our seven pullets (young hens beginning to lay for the first time) didn't lay an egg. One evening when I came from work, I found my wife all excited, our flock had produced an egg! That egg, counting the feed we had on hand, cost us $45.89.

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