When we first decided to get chickens for our backyard, we had difficulty deciding how many we wanted.

Now, we’re asked this question all the time by people who want to get into a more self-sufficient home.

The best way to start figuring out this answer is to ask yourself: *How many chickens do I need for a family of ____? *

**When keeping chickens at home, you need as many chickens as you have people in your family, give or take 2 chickens on either end. If you eat eggs a lot, add more or if you don’t use a lot of eggs, take some away. Always consider local laws and if you have the space and resources to support the number of hens. **

Read ahead for more details and tips on picking the right number of chickens for your family.

Table of Contents

## How Many Chickens Do I Need Chart

Use this chart to help you determine the general range of how many chickens you need in your flock.

Family Size | Number Of Chickens | Number Of Chicks To Get* |
---|---|---|

Family of 3 | 3-5 chickens | 7 chicks |

Family of 4 | 4-6 chickens | 9 chicks |

Family of 5 | 4-7 chickens | 10 chicks |

Family of 6 | 5-8 chickens | 11 chicks |

Family of 7 | 6-9 chickens | 13 chicks |

Family of 8 | 7-10+ chickens | 14+ chicks |

*The chick suggestion is to help you if you raise chickens from the chick or egg stage.

Chicks have a 1-5% fatality rate, and you’ll end up with some roosters from a batch too.

I’ve found success in advising people that 70% of the chicks you get end up being around what you want.

Of course, nothing on this chart is a hard and fast rule, but they’re helpful as a place to start.

### How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Family Of 4?

**To provide enough eggs for a family of 4, you need 4-6 chickens. This will provide you with some extra eggs during the productive summer months and even out the lower production winter months and molting period. **

Depending on the breed, it’s safe to expect a chicken to lay an egg 2 out of every 3 days.

Some breeds are more consistently productive, and warmer times of year produce more than this too.

In rare cases, some chickens may even lay two eggs in one day!

Some people think a chicken will lay three eggs in one day, too. Click the link to check out our article to figure out if this is true or not.

By this math, a flock of four hens will produce 19 eggs in one week. A flock of six hens will make 28 eggs per week.

### How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Family Of 5?

**If you have a family of 5, you need 4-7 chickens to provide enough eggs to eat. Four chickens will produce 19 eggs on average per week. Seven chickens will lay 33 eggs per week. **

Remember, this math is based on a yearly average. In the summer, the number of eggs a chicken lays is closer to six out of every 7 days or every day.

In the winter, some people have numbers cut in half or even less.

### How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Family Of 6?

**If you have 5-8 chickens, you’ll have all you need to feed a family of 6. On average, 5 chickens will lay 23 eggs per week, while 8 chickens will produce 38 eggs. This gives you a range of 4-5 eggs per week per person. **

As the number of chickens in a flock rise to match the number of people in your family, make sure you have enough space to keep them.

Read our section later on to help you determine if you have the space.

### How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Family Of 7?

**For a family of 7, you’ll need 6-9 chickens to fully feed your family. With these numbers, you’ll have enough eggs for 4-6 per person per week. The range of chickens translates to 28-42 eggs per week on average.**

Hyper productive chickens are great to have, but this does increase the risk of becoming egg-bound.

Egg-bound chickens have their egg stuck in the oviduct, and it’s a life-threatening condition.

Egg-bound chickens may not be able to poop! Click to link to learn more, including how to help your fowl stay alive. ** **

## Tips For Picking The Right Number Of Chickens For A Family

Outside of picking a flock size for the right number of eggs, here are some other tips to consider.

### Check Local Chicken Laws

Before getting or even thinking about getting chickens, you need to check your local laws for keeping animals and farm animals in your area.

We have friends who wanted to keep a flock, but their local ordinance didn’t allow for *any *chickens at all.

Some limit the flock size to a manageable amount. Unless you live right in the city, most towns have a limit to 5-6 chickens in a flock.

Also, check for owning a rooster too. The crowing is loud (we hear our neighbor’s rooster from a half-mile away all the time), and not everyone wants to hear it.

There may be some local laws based around building on your property. Often, you’ll need a permit for buildings over a certain size.

If laws are preventing you from building the flock of your dreams, don’t give up!

Many places will work with you to get exemptions, or it’s possible to work with other like-minded poulterers and get the law changed.

Don’t just risk it without checking or hope no one notices. The fines and penalties are steep in some areas.

### Consider Breeds

As you think about your flock size, it’s worth it to spend some time researching specific breeds.

Some do better for different climates and vary in their egg-laying. All chickens are fine in warmer weather, but if you have colder temps a lot of the year (like we do here in Michigan), take a look at this list:

- Orpingtons
- Australorps
- Silkie Bantams
- Wyandottes
- Rhode Island Reds
- New Hampshire Reds
- Barred Rocks
- Delawares
- Brahmas

Others need more places to explore to be happy, so this may not be the breed for you if you’re limited on space.

Still, more are mild in personality and do better with families, especially with younger kids.

Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Australorps, are known for their gentle personalities and great with little kids.

One of the best ways to pick a good breed for your area is to talk with other nearby farmers.

### How Much Space Do Chickens Need?

**When planning for keeping chickens, estimate they need 2-3′ square feet of indoor coop space and another 8-10′ square feet of outdoor space per chicken. Crowded flocks start to compete with each other, get stressed, and stop laying eggs.**

If you don’t want to do the math, here’s a quick chart to help you out.

Number of Chickens | Coop Space (In Square Feet) | Outdoor Space (In Square Feet) |
---|---|---|

3 | 6-9’ sq ft | 24-30’ sq ft |

4 | 8-12’ sq ft | 32-40’ sq ft |

5 | 10-15’ sq ft | 40-50’ sq ft |

6 | 12-18’ sq ft | 48-60’ sq ft |

7 | 14-21’ sq ft | 56-70’ sq ft |

8 | 16-24’ sq ft | 64-80’ sq ft |

9 | 18-27’ sq ft | 72-90’ sq ft |

10 | 20-30’ sq ft | 80-100’ sq ft |

### Gather And Price Out Supplies

Even if you have the space, you don’t want to get more chickens than your pocketbook can handle.

Chickens have a recurring cost, so be sure you know what you’re getting into.

Also, make sure you have the space to store the supplies.

A general rule of thumb is that keeping 5 chickens costs $70 per month on average over the chicken’s life. This number absorbs:

- Chickens
- Feed
- Bedding
- Chicken Coop
- Medicine
- Pest Control
- Feeders
- Waterers

However, this number is driven down a ton by taking care of things yourself instead of buying.

Getting chicks is cheaper than fully grown chickens.

Building the coop yourself is cheaper than buying it done-for-you.

Grow your own feed supplements to help cut down costs there too.

If you cut the price down, the only big thing left is feeding, and it’s possible to get this down under $30 a month for a flock of 5 or 6.

### Consider Ages Of Chickens

Our family is just getting to the point where we’re balancing the ages of our chickens with our flock size.

Chickens produce eggs consistently from 18 weeks of age to around 3 years of age. Some breeds and individual chickens do well all the way to 4 years.

After this, egg production drops off quickly for the rest of their life, usually 5-6 years.

If you get all your chickens at one time, you’ll be set for years, and then it’ll all stop suddenly.

A lot of people keep half their home flock two years apart from the other, and they just loop.

I wouldn’t worry about this if you’re new and starting out, but keep it in mind for later down the road.

## Commonly Asked Questions

### What Is The Minimum Number Of Chickens To Keep?

At the bare minimum, you need to keep 3 chickens in your flock.

Chickens are social creatures and need companionship to feel safe.

On top of this, chickens are proven to have basic emotions and feelings.

They need to feel happy to be healthy and lay eggs.

Learn more in our detailed article answering the question: Do chickens get depressed?

### How Big Should A Coop Be Per Chicken?

As we mentioned above, you need 2-3′ square feet of space in the coop per chicken.

Chickens should also have a place for each one to roost and one nesting box for every 3 chickens in the flock.

You may want to add extra nesting boxes if you notice your hens compete over the space.

Don’t forget to allow for ventilation. Chickens kick up a lot of dust and need fresh air to prevent respiratory illnesses.

### How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Dozen Eggs Per Week?

At the minimum, you’ll need 3 chickens to get a dozen eggs per week, but it’s safer to keep 5 hens for this amount.

Sure, it’s a bit of overkill for the summer months, but with 5 chickens, you’ll balance out the long winter months.

Learn more about how to keep chickens laying eggs in our article on chickens laying a dozen eggs per week.

### How Many Waterers Do You Need Per Chicken?

Chickens need 1-2 liters of water per day and enough drinking spots for every chicken to be able to drink at the same time, so the answer isn’t clear as it depends on the type of waterer you use.

In general, using a large 5-gallon drip waterer, you’ll need one water per 6 chickens, though more is better.

Keep some water outside and inside the coop for optimal hydration.

If you want more details and recommendations, check out the detailed article to this question: how many waterers do you need per chicken?

### How Many Chicks Can A Hen Have?

Chickens usually have 10 chicks per brood, up to 12 in some cases.

Most of the time, they have one brood per year, but it’s possible to have two if you time it right.

Chickens have around three years of the productive egg-laying total.

Learn more about this topic and the myths around it in our guide to how many chicks a hen can have.

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