Chickens are great to have around in SHTF and can be a homesteader’s best friend. They can provide you with a steady supply of eggs under the right conditions. Egg laying hens if taken care of well will normally live for 3-7 years. You can get your much-needed protein and essential amino acids on a regular basis. Fresh eggs are also better tasting than store-bought, so which would you prefer? Hens will usually lay eggs spring through fall. During the winter they won’t get enough sunlight, but they will start back up after a couple of months. Chicken and the egg are steady food supply, no need to worry you can store your eggs for several months by simply heating up a quarter cup of mineral oil for about ten seconds. Then coat the freshly laid eggs in the oil. Place small pointed side down in a carton store in cool dry place at room temperature. So if you stock up they should be available for you year round. Avoid washing the eggs because they have a natural coating for protection against bacteria. If they are pretty dirty use a dry cloth to buff any poo.
There are multiple breeds to choose from. Here are the most popular for producing eggs.
1) Rhode Island Reds, these are also called the dual purpose breed. Great for there production( around 250 brown eggs a year) as well as for their meat. They are brown with black feathers.
2)Golden Comets, this is a hybrid breed. (280 brown eggs a year) These are gold and brown with white tail feathers.
I would not recommend mixing different breeds. Some will not get along with others which will affect their mood and in turn their egg quality and production. The chickens will actually kill each other in most cases.
What you will need to prep for the coop. They will need a hen house, food, water and plenty of outside space daily. Around two square feet per bird is usually a good rule of thumb. Fence in their space to keep predators out with chicken wire and T post. Be sure to have a heat lamp with a timer for those colder days, especially during the winter months. The lack of light is what will affect their egg laying. You will need to clean up the droppings on a daily basis as well. There is a bright side to shoveling poop. Throw it along with the eggshells into the compost pile for your garden, so nothing is wasted.
If you decide to increase your chicken count, or you want to start off with chicks you will need to have a rooster for fertilization. The hens need to sit for about 21 days to accomplish a successful hatch. After six months of being born the chicks will be ready to lay. Besides the steady supply of eggs, you may also choose to harvest them for their meat. In many areas, the Amish will slaughter the chickens for a small fee, around $0.50 each. Hey, when you are starving you will be thankful. If you discover that some of the eggs are broken make sure to clean it all up right away. If the chickens taste it they will start to break them because they can’t resist the taste, can you blame them? If one of your hen’s dose goes rouge its the time to put them down, The habit will not go away.
These are great animals to have around. Chickens steady food supply for your homestead or bug in a sanctuary. Healthy chickens and a flourishing garden should fill all of your food needs. Happy prepping.