Introduction: How to Get "Free" Eggs

Picture of How to Get "Free" Eggs

Do you love farm fresh eggs? Are you tired of suffering through those cartons of inferior eggs or paying those astronomical prices for the good ones? Well no more! The answer to quality, nutritious, and "free" eggs is backyard chicken raising! That's right. I did it and you can too! Here's how.

Step 1: Pick Up Chicks

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Girls! Girls! Girls! Well hopefully girls. Kinda hard to tell at this point. But remember ladies, you do NOT need a man! All the single ladies. All the single ladies. That's right! Female chickens WILL lay eggs without a rooster present! Girl Power!
They're so tiny and cute!!! I could just eat em up! But I won't. Cause I'm gonna get free eggs out of these babies!

Step 2: Keep Them Warm, Watered, and Fed

Picture of Keep Them Warm, Watered, and Fed

Pretty simple. They need plenty of water, chick food, and a heat lamp to stay warm. If you have an outdoor brooder, well aren't you just some fancy know-it-all show-off! Just kidding! We kept ours inside in a large dog crate until they were bigger and it was warmer outside. Once they have "real" feathers and it stays at least 70-80 degrees outside, they should be ok.

Step 3: Realize All Those Episodes of Friends Where They Kept a Chick and a Duck in an Apartment Were All Lies

Picture of Realize All Those Episodes of Friends Where They Kept a Chick and a Duck in an Apartment Were All Lies

Yeah, chicks are nasty! Like, completely disgusting! They poop EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME!!! They poop in their water, in their food, on each other....ON YOU!!! Clean up regularly for their health, your health, and your sanity. Hopefully you can convince one of your kids that chicken care is super cute and fun, and they'll do it for you. If not, put on some gloves, a mask, and the full armor of God almighty, cause it's about to get so gross!

Step 4: Sorority Housing

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Realizing that chicks grow at an astronomical rate, plan ahead for move in day. I'm sure some of you are wiser than I and already have a coop before you get chicks, but trial by fire is how we roll. So as the warmer weather was creeping closer and my cute chicks starting going through that awkward teenagery phase and shedding their baby feathers all over the freaking place, "we" built them a glorious home in the backyard. I say "we", because, well, I DID paint it. Mostly. My husband and daughters built it for me. They designed it, redesigned it, took it halfway apart and redesigned it again as I learned more about what chickens needed. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. It's good to make sure there's a roosting bar (they sleep on those as well as poop on them), nesting boxes (where they'll hopefully lay their eggs and not poop), a ramp, and a door. Mine has extra doors where I can get into it and clean it. They have a nice little pen surrounded by chicken wire, with a big door for when I let em loose in the yard. They did a fantastic job, but I get credit for the painting. Well, the color anyway. You can build your own or purchase a kit or a pre-made hen house. Just make sure it's well ventilated and that it's elevated so it doesn't get wet inside when it rains. According to my friend, there's nothing "madder than a wet settin hen"!
*side note: Make sure the ramp has steps. Turns out, without steps it's just a really scary slide. And they're too CHICKEN to go on it! (That was FOWL humor!)

Step 5: Moving Day

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By now they look like miniature big-girl chickens. They're cute again and are eating almost as much as they're pooping. Seriously they poop a LOT! Put some clean bedding in the house and watch as they admire all your hard work and efforts on their behalf. They may not seem to fully appreciate the craftsmanship and expense you've gone to, but rest assured, they are quite pleased. Surely in a couple of months they will reward your efforts with "free" eggs on a daily basis. Begin the countdown.

* side note: I thought my chickens were superiorly intelligent genius birds because they went inside by themselves from the very first night!!! I didn't have to chase them and put them in! Turns out it's just a boring old instinct to roost. Oh well.

Step 6: Optional Step for Accidental Rooster

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So your favorite chicken baby, you know the cutest one with the prettiest feathers? Well, turns out she's a he. Happens sometimes. You'll wonder and suspect for a while, because there's just something a little different about this one. You'll know for sure though when he elicits a non stop stream of crowing at all hours of the day and night. That's right, these blessed little personal alarm clocks do not just crow at sunrise. It's all day. Everyday. Now if you're out in the country, that may be just fine. He'll love all the ladies. They can have baby chicks. All good. OR, like in my case, you may live in a regular neighborhood, with neighbors. People who don't necessarily appreciate the sound of a rooster crowing bright and early on Saturday morning. Perhaps you can bribe them with all of the eggs you'll soon be getting. Perhaps they've already decided that you're the worst neighbor ever and want to call the city on you. In that case, it's best to find him a new home. Mine is currently pimping it out at a farm surrounded by chicks all day. What a life!

Step 7: Are We There Yet?

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So it's about 4 months in and the internet told you it was time for them to start laying. You've cleaned out their home several times, put plenty of fresh bedding in the nesting boxes, and decided you must start composting to make use of the mountains of poop you've scooped up. Supposed to be great fertilizer and really, you should reap some kind of reward for this mess. Now, you don't have to do this, but it's suggested that you place a golf ball inside the nesting box, so they'll realize that's where they're supposed to lay their eggs. Now you just wait.

Step 8: And Wait

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Continue to feed them, give them plenty of water, and room to run free. Sing to them. Give them treats. Any kind of bribe to convince them it's time to start laying. And continue waiting.......

Step 9: Put Them on a 30 Day Action Plan

Picture of Put Them on a 30 Day Action Plan

Believing that your girls are lazy, free-loading, and selfish, you berate them for their unsatisfactory performance, and show them the eggs you had to go buy from the store because they refuse to do their job. Put them on a 30 day action plan, laying out in detail your exact requirements, their job duties, and what support you will provide to ensure their success. WARNING! Do NOT ask them to sign it. They will poop on it.

Step 10: Get Real

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Now that your blood pressure has BOILED, your brain is SCRAMBLED, and you're just a SHELL of your former self, because you thought this would be OVER EASY (I CRACK myself up!), you realize that it can take 6 months or so before they are laying, and they are still growing. Just be EGGstra patient, keep doing what your doing, and it will eventually happen. In the meantime, go buy some more eggs. And that is all you have to do to get "free" eggs!

Comments

kathynv (author)2017-03-01

You love(d) those chooks, eh? After reading your thoroughly entertaining instructable, we decided that you are suffering from Stockholm syndrome.The first sign was the photo of the lovely young woman playing the guitar while in the chicken poop, sorry, I meant coop. I wonder if you ever got any eggs and/or do you still have any chickens. (Thanks for the big grin!)

groovymama (author)kathynv2017-03-02

Glad you liked it. I did finally get eggs. Started having to give them away. Lol.

JpsManCave (author)2016-10-24

Not exactly free you have a start up cost and have to maintain the chickens. My wife wants chickens when we get our own place ill have to save this instructable.

groovymama (author)JpsManCave2016-10-24

Cool. Thanks. Let me know how it goes.

TeresaM7 (author)2016-10-24

groovymama the groovywriter. :) I really enjoyed reading your instructable. Sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself, right? Yeah, I grew up with ducks an chickens and so forth. Messy little buggers. But once they start laying, you'll have more than you can handle. Have fun with those little chickies!

groovymama (author)TeresaM72016-10-24

Thanks! I do enjoy my chickies.

Atha13 (author)2016-09-21

Loved this instructable! I agree with everybody's opinion, you are hysterical! I have a friend that LOVES chickens, I'm going to share this so she can read it! You should do a daily or weekly blog! Good job!

groovymama (author)Atha132016-10-23

I just linked my "blog" in my profile. Has nothing to do with making stuff. Just stories.

groovymama (author)Atha132016-09-21

Thank you so much!!!

offseidjr (author)2016-10-22

You made me smile so much! It is SO TRUE that the roosters crow all the time and that chicks poop a lot! I have had personal experience in the area of chickens.

groovymama (author)offseidjr2016-10-23

LOL! So you know! Thank you!

offseid (author)2016-09-30

Thanks for the chuckle. You write really well!

groovymama (author)offseid2016-10-01

Thank you!

BramS3 (author)2016-09-24

Very funny, great jib

groovymama (author)BramS32016-09-25

Thank you!!!

MadisonA5 (author)2016-09-23

I used to keep chickens and know from experience, the eggs are by no means free. First you need enough land, a "back-yard" is not enough! Even if you have woodwork skills of your own, housing is very expensive, and as a novice, you will make mistakes. You will have to deal with predators, many of which will be protected by law, or owned by neighbours. If your chickens are able to forage, you will still need to supplement their diet with "layers mash", especially when they are laying regularly; you will also need to feed them when not laying regularly. Unless you are keeping hens as a business, you will never get cheap eggs, let alone free ones.

It's a great hobby, and very rewarding, but hard work......so much for "girl power", and if they are roaming, you are advised to keep a cock as they call the hens home at the end of the day, otherwise you'll either be running around catching them to lock up for the night, or leaving them at the mercy of any local foxes or whatever.

dropkick (author)MadisonA52016-09-23

I kept mine in a dog kennel covered with tarps at night. This was my "coop". During the day I let them roam a fenced yard and eat grass and bugs. You can easily train your chickens to return to the coop at night. Start by leaving them inside the coop for a few days till they feel secure with it. Then at dusk when you want to close them in, bring a treat for them (I used to sprout several types of seeds and then feed them the sprouts, or crack some corn for them with my grinder, or mix some plain yogurt with a little mash- there's lots of options). Very soon, even without treats, the chickens will start going to the coop in the evening on their own.

(I also had my laying boxes in here, and most of my chickens used these - though occasionally one would get broody and try to hide eggs, or just lay outdoors to be a pain).

Normally my chickens would be waiting for me inside the coop when I came out to close them up, or would come when they saw me, or when I called "Here chicky". If I ever got held up until after sunset the chickens would all go perch on their roosts in the coop by themselves.

I never lost any of mine to predators, though I do know that I had a hawk try at least once and miss. - I had trees and other air cover in my yard, and normally the chickens would move under cover on their own if there was a threat.

I never used much layer's mash as the chickens had other things to eat and were satisfied with that (though I did keep a feeder of it in the coop).

I did grind up and bake egg shells for a calcium supplement.

I would still have chickens but I moved to a town were idiotic regulations keep me from having them.

groovymama (author)dropkick2016-09-24

This was very helpful. Thank you! Sorry you can't have them anymore.

groovymama (author)MadisonA52016-09-23

Great info! Thanks!

kekker70 (author)2016-09-23

Home raised Egg's V Store Egg's; Have you ever stopped to think why store Egg's need to be refrigerated & not BEFORE refrigeration? My ancestors gathered there Egg's in a basket and just set it on the counter, NO refrigeration. when a chicken lay's an Egg it is coated with a substance that dries fast and seal out Oxygen from getting in and causing the Egg to start breaking down. Egg producers have to wash all the Egg's for cleanliness, without that coating they have to be refrigerated. Farm Fresh Egg's need no refrigeration and can last for Months. To get store Egg's to last that long Without Refrigeration wash them, dry them and put a very THIN coat of Mineral Oil on them, we bye 5 Dozen at a time and do this. Our Egg's only last us about 3 month's but are still fresh to the LAST EGG.

groovymama (author)kekker702016-09-23

Thanks for the great information!

ggadget (author)2016-09-21

I admit, I can't tell the difference between farm eggs and grocery mkt eggs but one thing I can say for sure, I loved your instructable. A fun read especially in step #9: "Believing that your girls are lazy, free-loading, and selfish, you berate them for their unsatisfactory performance...." It made me laugh.

groovymama (author)ggadget2016-09-21

Yay! That makes me happy!

Isaiahb (author)groovymama2016-09-22

Agreed. But some of the puns are eggscrutiating.... Eggcelent post.

Dr. dB (author)Isaiahb2016-09-22

Oh, I didn't find them TOO eggregious....

groovymama (author)Dr. dB2016-09-22

:) LOL!

groovymama (author)Isaiahb2016-09-22

Haha! Thanks!

Sneezy Phil (author)2016-09-21

As with most pets, Parent A usually ends up caring & maintaining for the cute baby pet that morphs into a messy adult pet - even if they are still cute and adorable. Our 'free' eggs lasted for about 12 months after they laid their first egg. Free eggs cost a fair bit in chook food, straw, chicken well-being medicines and the occasional vet visit. Snake-proofing was another item on the list of egg & egg producing defense. Our chooks retired to a friends farm about 18 months ago and the section of our backyard that they turned into a desert wasteland has not yet recovered - still hard earth and weeds where there was once lush grass. We get our eggs from the supermarket now, much cheaper.

ClareBS (author)Sneezy Phil2016-09-21

At least we don't have to worry about snakes in New Zealand or most of the other common predators such as foxes etc. We do have hawks. Once one flew overhead when our chickens were in the middle of a big paddock they froze for a minute or so.

groovymama (author)ClareBS2016-09-22

Wow. It's cool that snakes aren't a problem there. Wish we didn't have to worry about that.

groovymama (author)Sneezy Phil2016-09-21

So true about Parent A!

ClareBS (author)2016-09-20

Our first egg cost about a thousand dollars, the rest were free. After about three years we sold our three New Hampshire Reds at a poultry show for $20 each but the coop still looks impressive.

groovymama (author)ClareBS2016-09-20

Wow! That's one EGGspensive egg!

ClareBS (author)groovymama2016-09-21

It sure was!

Galt (author)2016-09-21

You are punny! :)

So the thing about chickens is, not only do they lay these wonderful bits of nutritional gold, but they also make tasty, tasty, pot pies and tacos after a few years of laying, but therein lies another chicken challenge. Just about anything their size or bigger that walks, crawls, or flies, also loves eating chicken, so keeping everybody alive can also be a bit of a challenge. We use geese and fencing by day, and a locked coop roost at night. True free range chickens lay the ultimate and best eggs. Second to that would be those who live in moveable coop, or "Chicken Tractor" that gets moved to fresh grass every day. There is a difference between the happy happy birds that roam free all day, and the eggs from those kept cooped up, even if they are moving every day. All still tons better than the snotty foul/fowl stuff at the grocery store, but not everyone can accommodate the free range lifestyle. "Organic" doesn't mean squat really. They could all still be caged or confinement fed, and even the "Cage Free" label has been corrupted by the industrial food creeps. here's a picture of a "cage free" chicken concentration camp where they never see grass or the sun their entire life. The point is that what's written on the carton doesn't mean crap. Either grow your own or buy from someone who does and where you can visit to see where your food is grown if you're at all interested in food integrity. The other thing is that the best Free Range, organic pastured chicken, eggs, pork, beef, whatever, have a completely different nutritional profile from the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), genetically mutant, GMO fed, DNA defective, crud that constitutes most of America's "cheap food" these days. Lastly, if you're raising your own I would also suggest giving cooped birds at least twice the space that is suggested as "conventional wisdom".

groovymama (author)Galt2016-09-21

Thank you!!! That was great info!!!

mlaiuppa. (author)2016-09-21

Add up all the feed, etc. and those turn out to be pretty expensive eggs.

But that's not the point. They're local, organic and you not only know where they came from, you can name the chicken. I'll assume you've named them because at this point they are pets, right?

Because you wouldn't eat your pet and you don't name your food.

Otherwise that rooster would have ben Coq a Vin. Right?

groovymama (author)mlaiuppa.2016-09-21

True. They are pets 1st. And yes, all have names.

ryniablackfox.inesory (author)2016-09-20

i got chickens earlier this spring/summer. I like to collect their shedded feathers for crafts and stuff.

Ooo. Great idea. There's a lot of feathers!

BeadGarden (author)2016-09-20

Groovy, Mama! You've lived up to your name :) My family had chickens and free eggs when we were kids. You are so right about how messy they are. We also had a territorial, but beautiful, rooster... for a while. He was like an attack dog!

That's sounds like my rooster now ?

Our rooster, Flip, would chase us kids, no matter where we were. Flip didn't chase dad, and mom kept her distance. Flip met his demise when he decided to challenge the neighbor Collie dog - a couple of acres over - and the Collie won. My mom was relieved, and the neighbors had a nice dinner, I was told much later. Unless you want chicks, do not keep a rooster :)

groovymama (author)BeadGarden2016-09-20

Agreed!

Uh oh. Hope you have a really good neighbors.

groovymama (author)BeadGarden2016-09-20

Thank you so much!

paulbsa (author)2016-09-20

Great Instructable! I've found that the break even point for those "free" eggs, where they start to make you money, is about three years past the average life span of a chicken. Backyard eggs are great, and once you start getting them you won't even care that they only cost you $46 a dozen.

groovymama (author)paulbsa2016-09-20

$46 a dozen sounds about right! LOL!

I got some 7 to 8 years old

Wow. That's awesome!

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