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In a previous article, we talked about the basics of raising chicks. We covered the brooding process; food, water, and heat, as well as a basic overview of how to get started. Now we will dive in to life stages, breeds, coop setups, and eggs. We’ll also talk briefly about roosters and local laws to look out for.



Female chickens have four distinct life stages: egg, chick, pullet, and laying hen. We won’t spend much time here on the egg and chick phase, as we covered chicks in our last article and we all know where babies come from. Pullet is the term for a female “teenage” chicken (males are called cockerels at this stage). At the pullet stage, the hen is under 1 year old and has not yet begun laying eggs. They have their first feathers and are no longer “fuzzy,” as a baby chick would be. Hens are at the pullet stage at approximately 15-22 weeks. At roughly 22 weeks, pullets will reach ‘point of lay,’ wherein they will lay their first egg. After this point, as you might guess, they achieve the ultimate status of Laying Hen.

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Egg Cleanser™ - 16oz


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Under no circumstances do we have time to cover EVERY breed of chicken in this article, so we will stick to a handful of the most popular chicken breeds. Different breeds have different temperaments, different laying tendencies, and, of course, different looks. Some popular breeds include:

    ISA Brown
  1. ISA Brown
    The ISA Brown is actually a crossbreed that originated in France. Their purpose? Eggs, eggs, eggs. These chickens are known for their high egg production of approximately 300 eggs per hen in the first year of laying. ISA Browns are highly popular for a first time chicken owner, and are known to be quite friendly.

  2. Rhode Island Red
  3. Rhode Island Red
    The Rhode Island Red is an American breed that is extremely popular amongst chicken owners. They are fantastic for both egg laying and meat production, which lends a hand to their popularity. These birds are also known to be friendly/less skiddish.

  4. Orpington
  5. Orpington
    The Orpington is a British breed that was originally intended to be a dual-purpose breed for both eggs and meat. It should be noted, however, that you can find both utilitarian and exhibition strains of the Orpington. Exhibition strains, or “show birds,” will lay significantly fewer eggs than a utilitarian strain. These birds are gentle and good with children.

  6. Silkie
  7. Silkie
    Silkies are primarily exhibition birds, well-known for their…strange…appearance. They have “silky,” fluffy plumage, black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot. All around, these are cool-looking and people love them!

  8. Easter Egger
  9. Easter Egger
    Easter eggers are not technically a breed per se, however they are extremely popular and worth discussing in this article. These birds are a cross between Araucana or Ameraucanas with other breeds. The results of these various crossings led to multi-colored eggs, hence the name “easter egger.” Essentially, until your easter egger starts to lay, you won’t know what color eggs to expect! Both Araucana and Ameraucana chickens possess the gene for laying blue eggs. When mixed with a brown egg-laying breed, you get olive-colored eggs that are quite impressive. These birds are more known for their egg production, however they also are capable meat birds.
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Oyster Shell - 5lbs

Pullet-size crushed Oyster Shell for egg-laying chickens offers a great source of calcium to build strong eggshells and is heat-treated for purity.

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When setting up your chicken coop, one of the main things that should be on your mind is protection. Protection from weather and protection from predators. Chickens need an enclosed space where they can sleep and be fully protected from the elements and from the numerous predators like foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, mink, owls, and hawks. Predators are everywhere, and chickens are easy, delicious prey.

Apart from an enclosed space, a coop will also, of course, need nesting boxes. These are spaces where chickens will go to lay their eggs. An ideal setup will have easy access to the nesting boxes for egg collection. A general rule of thumb is one box per two or three chickens.

The third major component of a chicken coop is the run. This is a space where they can walk around and peck and bugs and treats and have access to feed and water. Chickens love space, so a spacious run with room to roam and eat bugs, plants, and treats is a recipe for happy, healthy chickens!

While those are the three basic necessities for a chicken coop, allow me, for a moment, to “nerd out” on some of the cool, ultra-efficient tactics that you can take when setting up your coop.

Let’s talk automation:

Vertical Coop – This idea is pretty self-explanatory: build your coop vertically, with your run underneath your enclosed space. This helps ensure that your run stays dry (which means your feed stays dry). Chickens do best dry. This setup also is a fantastic space-saver if you’re raising chickens in your back yard and not on a giant farm.

Automated Feeding – Let gravity do the work with this awesome configuration using pvc piping or even some large gutter pieces. This system allows you to fill your feeders every couple of weeks instead of daily.

Automated Watering – This system is very similar to the gravity-feeder system. You simply run piping from the bottom of a rainwater collection barrel (or something similar) into your run with various nipples that your chickens can use to access the water supply. This is especially automated in rainy climates, though the system still works great even if you’re refilling it every once in a great while. Yay automation!

Automatic Door – If you’ve been researching chickens for very long at all, you’ve likely heard of Chicken Guard. Chicken Guard allows you to set a timer to automatically open and close your chicken coop door like clockwork. When combined with the automated feeding and automated watering methods I mentioned above, this is a great way to ensure a self-sustaining environment for your chickens that would allow you peace of mind when you are away from home.


Proper collection and cleaning of your chickens’ eggs is of the utmost importance for the health of the eggs, the hens, and those who eat the eggs. Firstly, you need to collect eggs early and often. It is recommended, if you can handle it, that you collect eggs twice a day. This helps keep eggs clean and also keeps chickens from eating the eggs. If you allow the eggs to sit overnight, you increase the risk of them getting pooped on, stepped on, or eaten. Keep your nest boxes well-bedded with straw or shavings. If your chickens poop in the nest boxes or an egg is broken in the nest box, clean it thoroughly and replace the shavings.

Cleaning eggs properly is the best way to keep your family from getting sick. Eggs have a natural antibacterial protective layer, called bloom, that allows you to store eggs unrefrigerated. If you wash your eggs, you remove that protective layer. Keep this in mind as you work out your preferred method of cleaning. The alternative to washing your eggs with warm water is dry cleaning, which involves wiping the egg with an abrasive sponge, loofah, or fine sandpaper to remove any dirt and feces from the shell. Keep an eye out for local regulations governing the cleaning of eggs for sale in your area if you plan to sell your eggs.



Laws regarding chickens and roosters vary from state to state, county to county, and town to town. Some places limit the number of chickens you can have, some require you to live in an agriculturally-designated zone. Most cities and towns do not allow the keeping of roosters, due to noise. Some places require permits. Some have distance requirements that dictate how far your coop needs to be from neighbors. Most residential areas restrict the slaughtering of chickens.

It is important that you do your research and understand the laws in your area surrounding chicken ownership before you dive into anything.


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