Family of four, 2 eggs apiece, 4 times a week. Simple math…32 eggs. To allow for the hens to miss a day here and there, you need at least 5 hens. In the winter, egg production will slow or stop.
The hens need to be replaced every 3 to 7 years, depending on your breed of chicken, climate, and feed. So if you’re truly self-sustaining, you need a rooster in order to replenish your flock, plus you need a hen or two who are willing to “sit” and hatch the eggs. If you’re self-sustaining you’re probably off-grid and may or may not have enough electricity from your solar or other power source to operate an electric incubator.
Now you’ve got your broody hens setting on some eggs, and lucky you! 26 of them hatched! After the normal loss of a few of the little fluff balls, you have 23 of them. They happily scratch around in the yard in the important manner of their full-grown counterparts, and you select the ones to keep as layers, and butchering day comes for the rest. But…wait a minute, that’s only 18 meat birds! And they’re not nice and big and fat like fryers! They’ve been free-ranging bugs and seeds in your yard all summer, and they’re full-grown, but under those feathers, there’s just not a lot of meat! Well, you decide you’ll just have more soups and stir-fry’s.
18 chickens butchered for meat…that’s a meal with meat about every 3 weeks. In order to eat chicken once a week you’ll need 52 chickens. That’s a lot of critters looking for free-range bugs and seeds. What do you eat with your fruits and veggies the other 6 days of the week? Some people can add to that with raising other livestock or hunting. Then you’re back to the question of how to preserve it. The logical way if you’re self-sufficient, is to can it, and then we’re back to the logistics of having and storing large amounts of jars.
One last subject: feeding your critters as a self-sufficient person. Our chickens free-range during the months things are growing here and the bugs are active. Unfortunately this far north, that’s from about the end of May until the middle of October. In order to keep the hens laying we also feed “layer feed” from the feed store. We’ve started growing our own grains in the last 3 years and I can tell you, it’s a big job planting, harvesting, and threshing wheat, oats, rye, and barley with hand tools. We’re no where close to growing enough to feed our chickens year round, let alone having enough to use for our own cooking.
We go through 50 lbs of feed a month to feed 7 hens, plus table scraps and seasonal foraging. We’re too far north to grow corn, but people who can, greatly ease the job of growing their own feed.
Meat, vegetables, and fruit are a wonderful diet, but when you’re doing the kind of work it takes to keep a self-sufficient homestead going, you really appreciate the breads, biscuits, and other things grains can make. In our home with two of us we use around 25 lbs of wheat a month. We’d need to get our homegrown production up to 300 lbs just for cooking, plus the 600 lbs for the chickens, per year.
Just imagine if we added rabbits, goats, and other animals to the demand for feed!
Someone told me the other day that 100 years ago people were able to keep chickens and other animals fed without having to buy feed from the store. Yes, they did. Can you tell me how? Do you have the tools, equipment, and land ? Are you physically able and mentally committed to the kind of work you’d be doing?"