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Starting a chicken egg farm is a good way to make an income but you will need a large space for them to feed on natural vegetation and bugs, as well as supplying extra commercial feed. The chickens need to be housed in a chicken coop or henhouse (they can be accommodated in an existing shed) which requires windows for ventilation, nesting boxes for egg-laying, and horizontal beams for roosting. Concrete is the ideal surface for a permanent chicken coop and it is easy to clean. The outdoor space needs to be fenced in so that the chickens cannot escape. Chickens like to scratch in the dirt – this is called dust-bathing which helps to absorb excess moisture from the feathers and skin and also repels fleas and lice. Egg-laying chickens need a lot of light to produce more eggs, and for this they will need about 16 hours of light in every 24 hours. Let the birds out of the henhouse early in the morning, and they will hunt for bugs, roaches, seeds, and frogs until evening. Chickens need to eat all day, so top their feed up in the mornings and then let them out to forage. They are gregarious creatures and should never be kept alone – always have at least three in a coop.

If you just want to feed a few people, then you should collect about a dozen (12) eggs from three laying hens. Twelve (12) laying hens will supply you with about 60 eggs a week. If you want to have a small business selling eggs at a market or to a small shop, then you will need more laying hens. As you make more money, so you can increase the number of hens to grow your business.

You need to buy the hens from a reputable pet or farmers shop. Baby chicks cost a lot less than full-grown hens, but the chicks need to grow first. Hens are about 18 weeks old when they start laying eggs. They can get their food from the natural vegetation, but they also like working through a compost heap. Supplement this natural diet with dried whole corn and grains to make the egg yolk much richer, as well as vegetable greens, cooked rice and raw or cooked oats. DO NOT give the following foods to chickens – avocado, chocolate, sweets, dry beans, junk food and rotten food. Favourite foods include, raisins, mealworms, sunflower seeds, berries and dried or fresh herbs, raw or cooked, flesh and seeds -pumpkins are a great nutritious treat for chickens.

Laying hens, which produce an egg almost every day, drink nearly twice as much water as roosters and non-laying hens – on average, 500ml a day. Make cool water available in the run during all waking hours. The eggs can be stored, unrefrigerated, for a few weeks if they are unwashed and unfertilised, but it is better to refrigerate eggs because they will keep about seven times longer. If there is a rooster about, refrigerate the eggs within 36 hours. Eggs can be cleaned using only warm water.

To encourage the hens to lay in the nest boxes you must have the right number of boxes which need to be comfortable for the hen to lie in. Collect the eggs regularly and make sure there are enough roosting beams for all the hens. When your hen is ready to lay an egg, she will sit on her nest and may be seen straining slightly

A standard nest box needs to be about a 30cm cube; 30cm tall, wide and deep. This will fit the average hen. If the hens have too much room, they tend to kick out the bedding material. It also discourages hens from bunking up together to lay eggs.

The different nesting materials you can use are pine shavings, straw pine needles, sawdust and old leaves – these can be used separately or together. Hens tend to always want to use the same box. To train them to use the boxes you must start training them before they start to lay by placing a golf ball, ping pong ball or fake egg in the nest boxes. This usually gives them the right idea and they will learn to use the boxes correctly. A good idea is to add some fresh herbs to the boxes – lavender is good.



  • Start-up Capital: $200
  • Space required: Enough space for the coop and the outdoor forage area
  • Equipment: Nesting boxes and roosting beams
  • Specific skills: Ability to build the coop and beams


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