How Many Chickens Do You Need for Eggs? (A Quick Look at How Many Eggs Your Family Members Might Want per Week vs How Many Eggs Hens Lay, & More!)

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How Many Chickens Do You Need for Eggs (A Quick Rule of Thumb)

The number of hens you raise for egg production obviously depends on the number of eggs you want per week.

Depending on the breed (more on that below), a good egg-laying hen will give you about 5 to 6 eggs per week in warmer seasons (egg-laying naturally slows down or sometimes stops in the wintertime). So if you have 3 to 6 healthy hens bred for egg-laying, you can expect about 15 to 36 eggs each week in spring and summer!

If you want plenty of eggs, a very basic rule of thumb is to get 2 to 3 hens per family member who loves to eat eggs.

Personally, for me and my husband, I like having 5 or 6 hens because I like having extra eggs at the end of the day so I can give a few to my family and friends. I also cook almost everything I eat from scratch, so I need more fresh and stored/frozen eggs than someone who buys a lot of processed food.

But we’re not completely overwhelmed with eggs.

If You’re a Beginner Chicken Keeper…

If this is your first time raising backyard chickens, I recommend you start with a small flock (around 3 or 4 chickens) for about a dozen eggs a week.

From there, you can make a more practical decision on how many chickens are perfect for you and your family the next year.

Just keep in mind that chickens are social birds. They don’t do well if they’re alone, so you want at least 2 chickens together at all times. Three chickens work best, because if one dies then they’ll still have a companion.

If You Plan on Selling Eggs or Giving Some Away…

You can always get 4 hens per egg-eating family member if your family and friends really like eggs. It’s always nice to have a surplus of eggs to freeze for winter baking or to give away (or to sell).

Breed vs How Many Eggs Hens Lay per Year

Some chicken breeds are best for meat, some for eggs, some are for both meat and eggs, and some chickens are bred to make great pets.

If you want chickens with the best egg production, then you definitely want to check out the table below. Here I list the best (and my favorite) egg-laying breeds:

Breed Eggs/Year Size
Isa Brown300Large
Lohmann Brown320Large
Golden Comet250-300Large
to Extra Large
Rhode Island Red250Large
to Extra Large
Leghorn250-280Medium
to Large
Sussex250Large
Australorp250Large
Ameraucana250Medium
Plymouth Rock200Large
Ancona200Large
Buff Orpington180-280Large
Barnevelder200Large
Marans180-220
Large
Hamburg150-200Small
to Medium
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Keep in mind that some breeds do better than others in cold weather or hot summers. And some chickens are more social and better with kids, while others are more of the anti-social type. So make sure to research the type of breed you’re thinking about getting before you bring chickens home.

For a more detailed list of my favorite egg-laying hens (which includes summaries of their lifespan, personality, egg color, and much more) check out my post: 14 Best Egg-Laying Chickens

Zoning Laws vs How Many Chickens You Want

The first thing you really should do is research the zoning laws in your area.

There might be a law that limits the number of chickens you can have in your backyard. Or there might be a limit on how many chickens you can have before you need to get a permit.

Backyard Space & Backyard Chickens (How Many Can You Get?)

The space you have on your property for a chicken coop, a run, and free-ranging (optional) is going to affect the number of chickens you can have before they become unhappy and unhealthy. Unfortunately, most people unknowingly don’t give enough space to their chickens.

If you’re going to keep your chickens in their coop and run, you should aim to give a minimum of 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop, and a minimum of 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in an outside run.

Keep in mind that bantam breeds are smaller chickens and need less room than regular-sized chickens. But if you get heavy breed chickens, they’ll probably need more space.

The measurements below are the bare minimum of how much space chickens should have.

Space Needed for Standard to Large Sized Chicken Breeds

Chicken Coop: 2 to 3 square feet per bird

Chicken Run: 8 to 10 square feet per bird

Space Needed for Bantam Sized Chicken Breeds

Chicken Coop: 1 square foot per bird

Chicken Run: 4 square feet per bird

Chickens favor free-ranging to being confined in a coop and run all the time. Yet, sometimes it’s necessary to have them enclosed in their coop because of weather or predators. But, I still think free-ranging your chickens makes them happier.

A rule of thumb for free-range space is 250 to 300 square feet per chicken.

Spare Time vs How Many Chickens You Should Get

If you work full-time or you’re away from your home a lot, you probably don’t want to spend your entire weekend cleaning out a big chicken coop. If this is you, stick to 3 chickens for now, and then you can always add more chickens later once you see how much work keeping chickens involves.

If you have kids, having 3 chickens will also be a great way to test out how much they’ll help out with the chickens. Some kids are amazing chicken keepers and can take care of 6 or more chickens, while others seem to lose interest pretty fast.

Winter Months vs Egg Production

Another thing you want to keep in mind is that egg production will slow down, and sometimes completely stop, during the winter. And egg production also dramatically drops in the fall.

shorter daylight time = less eggs

Then, in spring when the warmer weather starts and the days start getting longer, chickens will start laying regularly again.

So, you might decide that you want to get an extra chicken or two to compensate for the lack of egg production in the colder months. You can keep eggs in the fridge for 2 to 3 months or you can freeze them outside of their shell.

Hens’ Age vs Egg Laying

Some of my hens have been laying for over a year and I noticed that their egg production has started to drop.

Chickens are in their prime egg production period when they’re younger than about two years old. Then, production drops so many people replace their chickens every 2 to 3 years to keep getting a good amount of eggs.

Unless you have your chickens as pets (or you get super attached to them like I do), it can be a good idea to replace a third or more of your flock each year. You can always keep those that still seem to be producing a good number of eggs, or keep your favorite chickens as pets. They’ll still produce some eggs for a few years, just not as much as they used to.

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Summary: How Many Chickens Do I Need for Eggs?

  • A good egg-laying hen will give you about 5 to 6 eggs per week in warmer seasons. So if you have 3 to 6 healthy hens bred for egg-laying, you can expect about 15 to 36 eggs each week in spring and summer!
  • If you want plenty of eggs, a very basic rule of thumb is to get 2 to 3 hens per family member who loves to eat eggs.
  • If this is your first time raising backyard chickens, I recommend you start with a small flock (3 to 4 chickens). You’ll soon get an idea as to whether you have too many or too few chickens when they start laying eggs.
  • You can always get 4 hens per egg-eating family member if your family and friends really like eggs. It’s always nice to have a surplus of eggs to freeze for winter baking or to give away (or to sell).
  • If you want chickens with the best egg production, then you definitely want to check out this Chicken Breed vs Egg Production table.
  • You might decide that you want to get an extra chicken or two to compensate for the lack of egg production in the colder months. You can keep eggs in the fridge for 2 to 3 months or you can freeze them outside of their shell.