It all begins with the chicken!
Eggs are a big thing here on the homestead, we use them for breakfast, baking, salad and sometimes dinner. When we began our homesteading journey chickens where our first purchase and like anyone starting out sometimes its overwhelming deciding on what breed of chicken will work for you.
THE EGG LAYER OR THE MEAT CHICKEN?
When we started out I never really took into consideration how many chickens we would really need to feed us all, what breed or how old they should be, these are things I learned over time and researched as I had no one but myself to ask and I am still learning.
You have your egg layers and just like we label them their main purpose is laying eggs. An egg layer can lay you between 280-300 eggs per year, which is an awesome amount of eggs per bird but once the chicken begins to age the number of eggs reduce and eventually the chicken is only good for soup broth or dog food.
Your dual-purpose chickens come in many different breeds and for the homesteader are a little more useful. Not only does a dual-purpose chicken lay you between 200-250 eggs, but it also provides you with meat during or after egg production. The dual-purpose chicken is meatier and not so tough like the meat of a egg layer is.
And finally the Meat Chicken, these chickens are bred just for the purpose of meat and a lot of people enjoy that it only takes 6-9 weeks to get a freezer full of plump meaty chickens. If you are looking for a fast growing, non egg laying bird the Meat bird is for you!
Now I've tried chickens from all three categories and have found that I like to have both my egg layers and my dual-purpose in order to keep our family fed. I am now experimenting on trying to produce a large meaty dual-purpose chicken with a few of my larger breeds and am hoping eventually I succeed and have a bird that will lay roughly 250 eggs an year and be able to feed our family and be able to withstand our colder climate temperatures. Eventually I would like to just have dual-purpose chickens on the farm as I find they do not eat as much as the egg layers or the meat birds over the winter months when they cannot graze.
Don't rush out and just purchase a bunch of chickens, research them, take your time and make sure the chickens you purchase meet all your needs.