We received our first chickens as part of the TN-4H Chick-Chain project. Basically, the children receive 25 one day old chicks to raise. At the county fair they bring back 6 which are auctioned the pay for the chicks to be distributed next year. Successful chicken farmers get to keep the other 19 or so hens. Our Extension Agents chose a dual purpose breed called Red or Black Sex Link, meaning that at hatching the sex of the chick can be determined by the color. This makes sorting the boys and the girls pretty easy.
That first year we did pretty well with the chicks, took back our allotted amount and kept the rest. They soon started laying eggs and we have been using farm fresh eggs ever since.
Hens generally lay 6 eggs/week, so with 20 hens that is a fair amount of eggs. We started selling eggs to friends at church and made the deliveries each week. That about paid for the layer pellets. But we found that as the days got shorter the egg production began to wane and then about Christmas time (when we were doing A LOT of baking) there were just no eggs.
Hens, like most farm animals, are very tuned into the seasons and react in various ways. Our hens had stopped laying because the cold winter was upon us and they were conserving their energy to stay warm. So for a few weeks we have had to supplement our meager egg collection with store bought eggs. But just last week, the numbers were back up! Rather than empty egg boxes on the counter, we have 2 or 3 dozen eggs in the refrigerator. And our egg customers are happy to see the fresh eggs again.