Complete Guide To Raising Chickens For Eggs (Costs, Breeds and More…)

Chickens were first domesticated over 7,000 years ago, and have been kept by humans ever since.

The most common reason why people raise chickens is for the eggs!

Raising chickens for eggs is a great option for anyone who is looking for a sustainable and affordable way to source their own food. It is also a wonderful way to teach responsibility and caretaking skills to children.

Are you looking to see if raising backyard chickens is right for you?

This article will explain all you need to know about raising hens for eggs.
Backyard Chicken Eggs

Is Raising Chickens For Eggs Cost Effective?

A lot of first time keepers want to know if raising chickens for eggs is cost effective.

In this section, we are going to look at how much it costs to raise chickens for eggs and then compare this to the cost of shop-bought eggs.

There are two main expenses when it comes to keeping chickens:

  1. One-time costs
  2. Reoccurring costs

One-time costs
Chicken Coop

Regardless of how many hens you are looking to keep, you are going to need a coop.

Building your own coop is the most affordable option, but requires hours of labor and a little bit of handywork. You can build your own small coop for around $200, whereas a pre-built coop from a store will cost anywhere from $300 upwards.

In addition to the coop you will need to provide a run, feeder and waterer. Expect to pay anywhere from $75-$300 for these three things, depending on the quality and brand you purchase.

Recurring costs

The biggest recurring expense of raising chickens is the feed.

On average a single hen will eat about 1.5lbs of feed a week. This comes out to about $35 a year per chicken, or around $200 a year on feed for six chickens.

You will also need to provide them with bedding and fresh water. Expect to pay around $50 per year for bedding for six chickens. Fresh water will depend on your local rates but it is typically negligible. You can read how much does it cost to keep chickens for more detail.

Is raising chickens for eggs cost effective?

Let’s assume you are going to raise a small flock of six chickens.

During your first year your expenses will be:

  • Coop ($200-$600)
  • Run Wire ($100)
  • Feeder ($50)
  • Waterer ($50)
  • Feed ($200)
  • Bedding ($50)
  • *Brooding costs ($80)
  • *Day old chicks ($2-7 per chick)

*Only applicable if you are raising day old chicks and not pullets.

In total this means your first year costs will be at least $750, with an on-going yearly cost after that of $300. So if you are keeping six laying hens over three years, you can expect to spend $1,350-$2,000.

So, are these costs worth it?

For hens starting to lay at about six months old and continuing high production for three years, you can expect to get around 3,100 eggs or 260 dozen from six chickens.

With egg prices currently being $5.00 a dozen, buying 260 dozen would cost $1300 dollars.

If you manage to keep the set up costs down then at best you can hope to break even.

For most people getting and raising a backyard flock is going to be more expensive than going to the grocery store and buying eggs. However, most people want to raise chickens not to get rich, but to manage their food supply. Plus, keeping chickens provides non financial benefits like companionship and a reconnection to nature.

How Many Chickens Should I Keep For Eggs?

Most chickens will lay anywhere from 3-5 eggs per week.

So you can work backwards and estimate how many eggs your family eats to get a rough idea of how many chickens you need.

Flock Size Eggs per Week
3 Hens 12 Eggs
6 Hens 24 Eggs
9 Hens 36 Eggs
12 Hens 48 Eggs

Because chickens are flock animals, you should aim to keep at least three.

A small flock of three good egg laying chickens will produce 12-18 eggs a week during the warmer months. For an individual or smaller family this should be more than enough. A bigger family, or someone planning on sharing or selling eggs with neighbors, may want to add a few additional hens to keep up with the demand!

Just remember that some cities have a limit on the number of hens you can raise. This may put your limit at five to six hens.

Best Chicken Breeds For Egg Laying

There are a lot of different chicken breeds out there.

From differences in egg color and size, to varying personalities, there really is a breed for everyone. Each breed is a little different, so it is important to think about what best fits you. If you are not sure where to start we have included some great breeds known for their egg laying ability below.

Breed Beginner Friendly Price Eggs per Week
Rhode Island Red Yes $3 4-6
Plymouth Rock Yes $3 4-5
White Leghorn No $2 4-6
New Hampshire Yes $3 2-4
Australorp Yes $4 4-5
Buff Orpington Yes $5 3-5
Sussex Yes $4 4-5
Chantecler Yes $6 3-4
Ameraucana Yes $7 3-5
Golden Comet Yes $3 5-6

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red Chicken

It is really no surprise that Rhode Island Reds are on this list.

They are a great beginner breed for those looking for lots of eggs. Rhode Island Reds are hardy too and do not suffer from many health issues.

  • Egg Laying: 5-6 eggs a week
  • Color: Brown
  • Size: Large

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock Chicken

Plymouth Rocks are a super friendly breed.

You can find them in eight different color varieties but the barred is the most popular variety. No matter which color variety you prefer, you are guaranteed to get a good egg layer. Expect them to lay well throughout the year including the winter too.

  • Egg Laying: 4-5 eggs a week
  • Color: Light brown
  • Size: Large

White Leghorn

Leghorn Flock

Leghorns are some of the best known egg layers around and are even used in some commercial laying facilities.

These pure white chickens are known for being highly active and make great foragers, but usually avoid humans and tend to be flighty. For this reason they are typically not recommended for beginnings, but make excellent companions for free range flocks.

  • Egg Laying: 4-6 eggs a week
  • Color: White
  • Size: Large

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire is a docile and hardy breed.

New Hampshire hens would make a great addition to a smaller family who also are looking to raise a dual purpose breed. They are a little heavier than most of the other breeds listed here and as a result lay fewer eggs.

  • Egg Laying: 2-4 eggs a week
  • Color: Brown
  • Size: Large


Black Australorp

The Australorp holds the record number of eggs laid in a year from a single chicken at 364.

Australorps are docile but active. They have a loyal fanbase across the globe because of their temperament and egg laying ability.

  • Egg Laying: 4-5 eggs a week
  • Color: Light brown
  • Size: Medium


Buff Orpington

Orpingtons are cold-hardy and easy going.

They come in several color varieties, with buff being the most popular.

If you are looking for a good dual purpose egg layer then this could be the breed for you.

  • Egg Laying: 3-5 eggs a week
  • Color: Brown
  • Size: Medium


White Sussex

The Sussex breed comes from England.

They are a great option for those looking for a quick growing, sweet, dual purpose breed. Their beautiful speckled bodies make them stand out. You can expect a great low maintenance beginner breed.

  • Egg Laying: 4-5 eggs a week
  • Color: Light brown
  • Size: Large


Chanteclers are the first official breed from Canada.

They were specifically bred to be able to have consistent lay throughout especially hard winters, and do well in confinement. These large but gentle hens have many unique physical characteristics that make them a reliable dual purpose breed.

  • Egg Laying: 3-4 eggs a week
  • Color: Brown
  • Size: Large



Ameraucanas are a uniquely beautiful breed.

They lay bright blue to light green eggs and have an inquisitive yet docile temperament. This breed can lean towards shyness, but with handling and care they will become friendly soon enough!

  • Egg Laying: 3-5 eggs a week
  • Color: Blue or light green
  • Size: Medium

Golden Comet

Golden Comet Chicken

Golden Comets are the only hybrid on this list.

Made from a cross between two different brown laying breeds, they outperform nearly all the heritage breeds.

They are calm and easy to keep which makes them a fan favorite for backyard flock keepers. However, this breed can have health problems in their reproductive tract and overall live a shorter life.

  • Egg Laying: 5-6 eggs a week
  • Color: Brown
  • Size: Large

How To Start Raising Chickens For Eggs

The very first thing you will need to consider is what breed to pick.

Some people are looking for companionship, but others want to be able to provide a surplus of eggs for their family and neighbors. Make sure to read 15 best chicken breeds for egg laying to get some good suggestions.

These factors will also help you decide how many hens you want.

Once you have decided which breeds you are getting and how many, you can then pick a suitable coop. Make sure to read our chicken coop guide for more help with this.

In addition to the coop you will need to provide nesting boxes. This makes collecting the eggs much easier and also cleaner. At least one nest box is recommended per four chickens. They will also need at least 10 feet of outdoor space per chicken.

Once you have these basics covered you need to pick a good layer feed. The feed can really make or break egg production. Without the nutrients they need, your chickens will produce eggs with deformities, and your hens can suffer from health issues.

Once your chickens lay their first egg (at around 16-20 weeks), they should be given a 16% protein laying hen feed. A commercial feed like this will include all the nutrients they need and will have boosted calcium to support egg shell quality. In addition to the feed chickens will also forage for any small scraps they can find.

A day in the life of a backyard flock keeper starts a little after dawn. Early in the morning you let them out of the coop, feed them, and check their water. Throughout the day chickens are pretty self sufficient. Around dusk you feed them again, check their water, and gather them back into the coop for safety overnight. Remember to also check for eggs at least once a day to help prevent broodiness and to keep the eggs clean.

Flock Of Chickens Out Ranging

Frequently Asked Questions

When do chickens start laying eggs?
It is important to know that some breeds develop faster than others.

Golden Comets, for example, start laying eggs at around 16 weeks old. Other fast developing breeds include Australorps and Leghorns.

On average a hen will lay her first egg between 18-22 weeks.

Larger breeds can take even longer to start, with some taking up to 8 months before they lay.

Do you need a rooster to get eggs?

Hens will lay eggs on their own, without the need for a rooster.

Can I make money raising chickens for eggs?
If raising chickens to make a profit is your main incentive, you may want to find another plan.

It is possible to make money selling eggs, but to actually be profitable is difficult. Most people use selling eggs as a way to cover expenses such as feed.

How much time does it take to raise chickens for eggs?
Laying hens are relatively easy to care for on a day to day basis.

They require less energy than traditional house pets like cats and dogs, and live pretty independently. You can expect to spend at least 15 minutes per day on routine tasks such as checking the feed and water.

However, it will take you a few days to initially set up their coop and get everything ready for them. Also if you are raising them from chicks then be prepared to give them a little more attention when brooding too.

Is Raising Chickens Right For You (Summary)

Raising backyard chickens for eggs is a wonderful experience.

There are so many layer breeds that you are bound to find one that has the perfect temperament for you and your family.

Some of the most popular breeds, like Rhode Island Reds, and Barred Plymouth Rocks are friendly and do well with families. Just make sure to buy the correct feed for your flock and set up the coop in a way that allows them to comfortably lay eggs and avoid predators.

Although the initial setup can be expensive, these costs can be offset by savings in the grocery store and selling your eggs to neighbors and friends. Be warned though, as it is most likely not something you will profit off of.

Let us know which breeds are your best layers in the comments section below!

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and is interested in backyard chicken health and care.

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