Backyard Chickens FAQs: Laying, Buying and the Best Breeds for Children
Updated: 07 April 2021
If you’re learning how to raise backyard chickens or thinking about buying backyard chickens in Australia - here are the answers to some of my most frequently asked questions!
When will my chickens start laying?
Chickens typically start laying around 20-24 weeks. Hyline birds such as ISA Brown chickens will start laying around 18 weeks. The ISA Browns’ egg production may take longer heading into winter.
How many eggs do backyard chickens lay?
How many eggs backyard chickens lay varies depending on their bloodline. A typical backyard pure-bred chicken will lay up to 150 eggs a year. A hybrid layer will lay closer to 300 eggs in her first year but may only lay consistently for two years or so.
What are the best chicken breeds for eggs?
Chickens are born with the same number of egg-laying abilities. Please ignore articles that say that an Australorp will lay over 300 eggs a year! I explain more about this misconception in my Australorp blog.
How long do backyard chickens lay eggs?
The breed and how well you feed and care for them will determine how long chickens will lay for. 3 to 4 years of consistent egg laying is a standard benchmark. They will continue to lay after this, but not often.
Backyard chickens exhaust most of their egg-laying in their early years.
Australasian Poultry's Megg Miller has a nine-year-old hen that has laid over 930 eggs!
How old should my chickens be when I buy them?
How old your backyard chickens are when you buy them is up to you!
- With the point of lay birds, you will find eggs in the chicken coop faster - within a couple of weeks.
- Younger birds (from 6 weeks) are more comfortable with regular handling, but unless they are sex-linked, they are more challenging to ensure that they are pullets and not roosters!
- Day-old chicks and birds up to 5 weeks need a heat source and an entirely different setup!
What time of year should I buy chickens?
The time of year you buy backyard chickens depends on their age and breed.
The best backyard chicken breeds for laying are pure-breds. Look for chickens that hatched in the spring. These pullets should commence laying in autumn, six months later. This way, you will have a better chance of keeping them laying continuously for at least 12 months without moulting.
Hybrid breeds of chickens hatch throughout the year.
Read my blog on 8 questions to ask a breeder before you buy backyard chickens in Australia.
Best Breeds for Children
Are backyard chickens safe for children?
Most chickens do not enjoy being cuddled by children!
The best chickens for beginners - especially children - are chickens bought as young birds (from six weeks). Spend 2-3 minutes each evening gently picking them up and handling them.
What are the friendliest chicken breeds?
The hybrid ISA Brown chicken's temperament is quite docile. They are my preference for new backyard chickens. However, they are more prone to medical conditions such as prolapse after the age of two, and therefore may not live as long as pure-breds.
Roosters can be aggressive, so they are not suitable for small children.
Here’s my guide to choosing the best chicken breeds for your backyard.
Where to buy backyard chickens for sale in Australia? Check out my blog here for a list of reputable poultry suppliers.
If you have any other questions regarding layer FAQs, check out my Chicken Dictionary.
Want your chickens to be the healthiest and happiest they can be? I offer backyard chicken workshops, online programs, phone coaching, and in-person support to families, schools, and free-range egg farmers. Visit my online shop for natural, tried-and-tested poultry supplies in Australia.
Become an expert in Backyard Chickens 101 and check here for the latest tips and trends all about chooks.
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.