5 Things non chicken keepers believe

When I first got chicken there was a lot to learn! I didn't realize how bad the predator problem would be, didn't know how much they poop or even that blue eggs were a real thing. In fact, there were 11 things about chickens that I had to learn the hard way. That was more than 10 years ago though and since then I've seen and heard non chicken keepers say some rather odd chicken 'facts' that simply aren't true at all.

5 myths non chicken keepers believe.

Of course it's impossible to know everything, so going on the assumption that people are just repeating things they've heard...I thought I should clean up some misinformation that's going around. I've come across 5 chicken myths quite frequently so these are the ones I'm going to set the record straight on today.

5 common chicken beliefs, that aren't true

1) You need a rooster to get eggs.

This one is a very common myth among non chicken keepers. You absolutely do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs. Even regular birds lay eggs without males. It can actually be a problem if you raise canaries, finches or cockatiels as they will often lay eggs that are unable to hatch if there is no male present. 

The female chicken produces the eggs whether a male is present or not. Many backyard flocks that are kept for eggs consist of only hens due to noise restrictions which keep out roosters.

Related reading: How to tell if your hens eggs are fertilized.

2) A hen only lays 12 eggs a year.

This is a media thing, it's been spread around a lot lately and it's absolutely untrue. It comes from a few different directions. It is true that a hen will lay a clutch of eggs before she sets on them to hatch chicks. She often starts sitting at about 10-12 eggs. That's not the end of it though. After her chicks are hatched and raised she does start laying again. 

Some chickens never go broody, some go broody and hatch chicks several times a year. ALL hens lay more than 12 eggs a year. The ones that don't go broody can lay upwards of 300 eggs their first year, depending on breed of course.

The second problem is that this #12 has been twisted to humanize a chickens laying cycle to discourage people to consume eggs. People with no understanding of chickens look at wild birds and see that they only lay enough eggs for chicks and decide that birds are birds and chickens are that way too.

Do fertilized chicken eggs taste different?

3) Fertilized eggs taste different.

There is a bit of 'icky' factor among people who are not familiar with fertilized eggs. It's my personal belief that this is just an excuse because they dislike the idea of fertilized eggs rather than the actual taste which is completely identical to unfertilized eggs. 

Non fertilized eggs are a modern America situation. In other countries and in our past, a rooster was in every flock to guard the hens and help keep them safe. They were also necessary for flock continuation, since chicks were often hatched to replace older hens. 

Now that the vast majority of our eggs are produced inside buildings with the hens in cages, roosters are no longer necessary for flock security. Chicks can be ordered to replace hens. We used to eat only fertilized eggs and now commercial eggs are unfertilized. 

Times have changed but the egg taste hasn't. There is absolutely no taste difference between the taste of fertilized and unfertilized eggs. 

Grocery store eggs are unfertilized unless the egg carton label says differently. 

4) Salmonella is everywhere and you will catch it.

Another media issue. I know thousands of chicken keepers through this blog and the chicken groups I've participated in. I've only heard of 3 cases of salmonella in 10 years. You will see it all over the media though which of course leads people to believe that everyone who owns chickens catches salmonella. This is absolutely untrue.

It is the media's job to inform us of illness outbreaks and threats. ALL the channels report on the same thing. Then people share it on Twitter and Facebook and it feels like these outbreaks are constant. They're really not, but people unknowingly share old articles or ones we've already seen and it seems like everyone is having a salmonella outbreak in their flock. 

While it is true that raising chickens carries the risk of salmonella in the flock, the spread of it can absolutely be prevented. With proper precautions like hand washing, salmonella will never spread to the chicken keepers.

5) We only eat hens. That's all grocery stores sell.

This one goes back to the Cornish hens they used to sell in the stores years ago. It may also come from the idea that hens are chickens and roosters are roosters. I've had to explain many times that chickens are both female and male, hen and rooster. Somehow the idea that a rooster is not a chicken is out there.

The broiler chickens sold in stores for meat are a special cross breed that grows to full market weight in around 2 months. Since they don't technically reach 'maturity' the meat of the rooster is just as tender as the meat of the hen. 

Before these special crossbreeds, the hens were meaty long before the roosters were. Though for real...they were MUCH smaller than the broiler chickens of today! If you've ever grown out chickens you know the roosters remain lean till about 6 months, which would obviously make them a bad choice for mass meat production. 

That is exactly why the cornish cross was developed! So now we eat both male and female in about the same quantity.

This is one of those posts that will probably get updated often since chickens are becoming more mainstream, more ideas people hold about them are coming to the forefront. What is your favorite chicken myth?

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