Welcome to Farmstead Chickens

Breeding and Raising Chickens for Practical Use on a Family Homestead

The essentials for a long-term egg laying flock

It's easy to find articles on what to do if your hens aren't laying well or how to improve egg laying. Those are useful as problem solvers and tips to follow.

Rather than repeat that type of information, in this article, I'll give more of a framework or approach for maintaining good levels of egg production in a home flock. We'll explore things like how the age of your flock and breed choice affects lay rate. I'll give some practical advice on you you can know which hens are laying and which ones aren't. And I'll give some guidelines on how you can keep your laying flock in good production for many years to come.

An Introduction to Poultry Breeding

Chickens are remarkable. They produce fresh food in family-sized portions, both meat and eggs. They’re adaptable to a wide range of climates and varied purposes. Their manure, properly managed, can build your land’s soil fertility. They’re excellent foragers. And they’re easy to take care of. Once you’ve begun to raise a flock and have mastered the basics, you can learn how to improve and perpetuate your flock.

In this article, I’ll discuss these things and how they can come together on your small farm or family homestead, with an emphasis on small-scale production.

Baby chick visible at day 19

Hatching your own chicks is rewarding, whether you use an incubator or hatch them under a broody hen. If you're going to sustain and perpetuate your flocks, hatching eggs from your own flocks is an essential step.

You can achieve good hatch rates and hatch 30 or more chicks at a time in small table-top incubators like the one that I use. In this article, I'll go over all the basics.