Many poultry farmers sometimes are confused about choosing the best chickens for pets and eggs. I see them choosing breeds of chicken that are poor layers for the purpose of laying eggs, so they get disappointed after waiting and expecting a positive change. It’s quite funny when I see these things.
As an experienced poultry Farmer, I have decided to help provide some useful information, that will help clarify this confusion in the heads of poultry Farmers. Through this article, you will get to know that, there are various breeds of chickens with different amazing characteristics. Some are good as pets while some are not, some are good layers while some are bad layers. If you don’t know these differences, you are bound to make mistakes and even repeat them over and over again. I am sure you want to know about these breed of Chickens and their characteristics in other to make a good choice depending on your motive of wanting a chicken.
Can A Chicken Be A Good Layer and Also A Good Pet?
Certainly yes! A chicken can be a good layer and also make a good pet for you. But I must not forget to mention that not all breeds of chickens are good layers. I presume you know that roosters are not layers at all. Those are males so they don’t give procreate at all. A very good example of a chicken that can lay eggs and also be a good pet is Rhode island Red, they are very friendly pets and also good layers.
To elaborate more on this fact, it’s very important to show you some breeds that are good layers and the ones that are good pets, so you can make the right choice. Your reason for choosing a chicken determines the breed you will choose. So most people want pets while some want layers. It’s good to set your priorities right so you don’t make a wrong choice.
Breeds of Chicken That Are Good Layers (Best Chickens For Pets And Eggs)
Not all breeds are good layers and good pets as well, so I will mention a few of the spectacular birds that fall under this category
1. Barred Plymouth Rock
This is a special breed of chicken very popular, they are excellent layers. They start laying eggs once they are 16-20 weeks old, You can expect at least 5-6 large brown eggs per week. Plymouth Rock also lives long, they can lay eggs even when they are beyond 5 years old. So if you want to start an egg business, trust me Plymouth is a good recommendation. It is naturally a good layer.
Their personality is also good, they are very friendly and sharp, so you can as well use them as pets. They are not aggressive, they are very calm and respectful, so you wouldn’t have a problem with them.
This breed of Chickens are very fertile, they can lay about 5-6 large eggs a week. So you are assured of eggs for breakfast as long as you have a Brahma at home. It can serve as your pet too because they are truly loving and gentle, you don’t have to pursue them all around to catch them, they know their boundaries and they respect it. Because of their large size, they also make good meats. You can fill your pot with enough meats, hmm yummy, because Brahma chickens are quite large sized.
Their eggs come in various colors and they are quite large. Take a look at them.
3. Buff Orpington
This is one of the best laying eggs you can find. They lay over 200 eggs yearly and sometimes even more. Buffs start laying eggs from 6 months old They are referred to as the “Golden Retriever” of chickens because of its awesome personality.
They can be your pets too because they are very friendly and lovely. They protect their nest and flocks they are not careless at all. They can lay about 5-6 eggs a week. They come in large sizes. Buffs make excellent pet chickens and they have a lovely golden buff color with lots of soft under-feathers giving them a puffy shape.
4. Easter Eggers
The name alone is proof that these hens are very good layers. They are technically called Easter eggers because they can lay a wide variety of egg colors and their plumage can also be various colors. Most Easter Eggers are docile, friendly and quiet so it’s a great pleasure to have around as pets. They will lay 4-6 beautiful, large, eggs per week in shades of brown, pink, blue, or green.
They don’t belong to a particular breed of chicken, they don’t conform to any prescribed breed standards, so they can come in a huge variety of colors and feather patterns too. They look like that kind of chickens you will find in Grandma’s house.
5. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are very friendly, gentle, and good layers too. Their major trait is laying eggs. You can expect about 5-7 eggs from them per week.
This breed of chicken is one of the easiest chicken you can keep as a pet. They are amazingly docile, gentle, comfortable when held and harmless to children. I will advise you take this chicken not just for laying eggs but also as your pet. You will enjoy it.
Breeds of Chickens That Are Poor Layers
These are the breeds that are not good layers, not that they don’t lay at all but they don’t lay as often as the above ones do.
This breed of chickens is very nice. They have an awesome motherly nature, but unfortunately, they spend lots of time being broody which decreases their laying abilities. They lay about 3-4 small eggs per week. Amazingly, they can hatch and mother any kind of egg you give them.
Polish is one of the chickens that are not good layers, if you want a chicken that will lay eggs for you may be for commercial purposes, the polish is not a good recommendation, you can only expect 2-3 smallish-medium size white eggs from her. They are quite docile and friendly, they will make nice pets for you and your family. Their unique looks, huge poofs of feathers on their head, beards, very friendly and quiet nature makes everyone love.
These are a large, adorable and beautiful breed of Chickens, but they fall into the categories of poor layers. Just like silkies chicken, the can also get broody so their laying abilities get affected. They can lay 3-5 medium eggs per week when they don’t get broody but when they do, they tend to lay fewer eggs. They can make good pets for you because they are very happy and friendly birds. Sometimes they can fly and land on your laps as a way of saying welcome back, I guess!
Causes of Poor Egg Production By Chickens
The mistakes poultry Farmers make is pointing accusing fingers at the birds, I understand that the birds because of their breeds or nature they might not be good layers but Farmers must learn to take initiative and responsibilities for their birds, by ensuring that they provide good quality feeds, enough light and clean water. Check also if the birds are stressed or healthy and know if there are some changes they need to make before complaining.
Here is a list of things that can cause low egg production.
- Improper Nutrition – what do you feed your chickens? Their feeds are very important, if you want a good layer, you must be ready to provide for them nutritious feeds; like redworms which contains lots of protein. Ignorance on giving chickens the right feeds can make them barren if I must say, so Farmers should take note.
- Disease – chickens lose their abilities to lay eggs sometimes because they have diseases. Poultry Farmers must learn to be at alert to know when the chickens are sick, of course, they cannot talk so you have to be sensitive to know when they are sick and provide them the necessary treatments they need. You might ignore them and give the excuse of not having money to treat them, but trust me when your birds get affected you also get affected, so take note.
- Advancing age – normally when chickens get older in age, they lose the tendency and abilities to lay eggs. Even though some still lay eggs very well in their old age. This is a major cause of low egg production, so it’s important to know when your bird is advancing in age, Yes! That’s right you should know their birthdays lol so that when they stop laying eggs because of old age you won’t be surprised.
- Stress – just like you get weak and need rest sometimes, Hens require a minimum of 14 hours rest daily, this helps to sustain egg production. It’s important that you practice this because Once day length drops below 12 hours or 10hrs, production will decrease and frequently even stop. There are repercussions of not layers going through stress, they might become infertile or their egg production abilities might drop, so they start laying 3 instead of 5, this is not good news so please ensure the get the amount of rest they need, otherwise you’ll be the one hurting at the end.
Benefits Of Having Good Layers as Pets
There are lots and lots of benefits you can get from your layers especially when they are your pets too. It’s important you look at these benefits, am sure it will interest you.
- They produce lots of eggs for you
Yes! This is a major and vital fact. If you have a good layer, you are assured of eggs for your breakfast. Most times when I want to make palm cakes I don’t bother going to the market, I just walk gently to my layers cage pick eggs. It makes me happy and fulfilled that my chicken lay’s eggs for me.
- They are multi-purpose in nature
Chickens are generally multi-purpose in nature whether they are good layers or not. You can get meats, eggs, manure and even use the shells of the eggs to produce scourging powder for your kitchen utensils. Chickens are so valuable, that’s why Poultry Farmers are very happy people.
- You can make profits from them.
You can as well start an egg business. If you have a good layer, that lays at least 6 large eggs for you a week. In 2 weeks you get 14 eggs and you are sure of 24 eggs per month. That is only if you decide to have one chicken but when you decide to get about 5 layers, you are assured of surplus eggs for sale and that means more money in your bank account. Asides from the eggs, you can sell their droppings as manure to Farmers, Lol, a neighbor of mine is always on the lookout for the droppings of my birds, sometimes he says ” can I help you dispose their droppings” Lol, I reply with a smile because I know what he means, chicken droppings are expensive and very helpful to crops in the farm. You can also sell the eggshells to people or companies that produce scourging powder, honestly, nothing is a waste really, everything is useful including the droppings.
- They make awesome pets
Chickens have an amazing personality. Layers make good pets but can get a little aggressive during their molting period asides that they are very friendly, gentle and smart. When I carry my Brahma and it’s so calm and quiet I feel happy. Trust me chickens make better pets more than cats or dogs.
- They ensure pest control
Naturally, chickens love insects and pests, so they are always on the lookout for the pest. It eases me the stress of buying insecticides because my chickens will not allow any pest go free, it chases after it until he picks it up with its beak.
Challenges of Having Layers as Pets
It’s also very imperative that I show you the challenges, you a likely to encounter having a layer as your pet, just so you don’t get carried away and finally surprised when you see these challenges.
- Chickens have diseases:
Chickens suffer from diseases like bird flu, lice, and mites, this can be very tough for them, sometimes you see them using their beaks to scratch all over their bodies. If you are not careful you can contact these diseases from them. This is a very serious matter because several careless Poultry Farmers have become victims of being affected by these diseases. If you love them, get them the necessary treatment and help them avoid getting infected to prove you love them lol.
- They need your time and attention
Raising a chicken requires lots of time, so If you intend raising a layer as a pet you have to be deliberate action, you must understand that they are not human being so they won’t strictly obey you, so when you want them to calm down they might want to play, so you have to be patient and give it your time.
- They can’t control excretion so the droppings the house a bad smell
Chickens don’t have control over their excretion like you, so they can mess up the whole house with their smelly droppings. This will give you lots of stress because sometimes you might not even know where they have defecated. Imagine them defecated in your bedroom, it will definitely give your room a bad smell. I don’t think you are ready for this, that’s why it’s a challenge. so you might have to create restrictions for your chickens in your house since they are your pets, otherwise, you’ll keep cleaning every time.
- They are very noisy birds
Layers can be very noisy, especially when they are about laying eggs, you can never catch a good sleep if you have them around. This challenge is very important, even neighbors complain about their noise sometimes. You can chase them away all you want, it still doesn’t change anything really. So you might want to have a nap or rest after a very head tick day, but your pets insist they want to play, so they keep disturbing you, especially the roosters, they can crow from morning till night, hmmm! I feel you want to change your mind, but you can get a cage outside the house for them, anyways.
- Layers get aggressive during their fertility stage.
Wow! You wouldn’t want to get a peck from your pet, isn’t it? During this period of their lives, they can see you as a treat or an enemy. This challenge can be disheartening, as your friendly, calm and gentle pet turns wild and even goes against you. Lol. I remember my friend’s kids getting a peck on his face for wanting to play with their Buff Orpington pet, during its fertility stage. They get easily bad and aggressive because they are laying eggs, and they also go through a hard time during this period too, imagine a woman in labor she doesn’t understand you until she is done giving birth.
Physical Attributes That Will Help You Identify a Good or Bad Layer
|GOOD LAYERS||POOR LAYERS|
|Their Feathers molt late||Their Feathers molt early|
|Their Shank is thin and soft on the back||Their Shank is hard on the back|
|Has short and strong Neck||Has a long and thin Neck|
|Its body is long, deep and proportionate||Its body is short, weak and thin|
|It’s Back is broad and straight||It’s Back is long and curved|
|Its Eyes are bright, well opened and alert||Its Eyes are dull and sleepy|
|Comb and wattles warm; brightly red and full||Its Comb is cold, shrunken and dull-colored|
|It has a strong Beak, shining and well curved||Their Beak is long, has dull-colored and is thin|
|Their Head is small, lean and well proportionate||Their Head is large and thick|
|Its skin is thin, smooth and oily||It has a coarse and thick skin|
|Their Abdomen is large and soft||Their Abdomen is small and hard|
|Their Ventral is oval, soft and moist||Their Ventral is small, dry and narrow|
|They have a Friendly temperament||They have Shy and nervous temperament.|
|They have Good appetite||They have Poor appetite|
Poultry farming can be very productive, interesting not confusing if you know the right breed that suits your motives and desires. Maybe you are not a Poultry farmer, you are just a chicken lover, the same thing applies to you because you can get very confused and even make a wrong choice if you don’t know the right breed of chickens to get as regards what your motives for getting the chickens are. I believe this article will clear that confusion completely as it contains everything you need to know about making the right choice of breed for yourself and Even recommend to your friends and customers.