Facts and nuggets of wisdom about chickens and the variety of ways they provide food for us.

Broiler chickens at six weeks of age. This meat producer is mature and ready for harvest.

  1. Chickens are raised either to provide meat (broilers) or lay eggs (layers).
  2. Broilers go from hatch to harvest in about six weeks. Wow, that’s fast! And it is all due to selecting a type of chicken that converts feed into protein quickly. The feed is usually a mix of grain, soybean meal, and vitamins and minerals that give the broiler exactly what it needs.
  3. If you see “no added hormones” on the label of a chicken at the store, that’s all marketing hype. No poultry in the United States has added hormones.
  4. Broilers are generally raised inside where the climate is perfect for them and they can move about and eat and drink whenever needed.
  5. Here is a great website that explains broiler production in more detail: https://www.chickencheck.in/farm-to-table/
  6. Layers are breeds of chickens selected because (SURPRISE!) they lay lots of eggs. The top egg-laying breed can produce nearly 300 eggs per year.
  7. Layers are generally five months old before they start to lay eggs.
  8. The most productive years for a layer are the first and second. Hens can still lay eggs when they are older–they just lay fewer of them.
  9. Hens can live up to 20 years. If you are thinking of having a backyard laying flock, make sure you have an exit plan.
  10. You can harvest a layer for meat, but there is less meat and it has a slightly different taste and texture when compared to a broiler.
  11. Here is a great site that has more than just a nugget and gives you the whole egg story: https://www.aeb.org/

A layer at six weeks of age. Layers grow more slowly and are not mature until somewhere around five months of age.