Easy to raise poultry (besides chickens)

I've been raising poultry since 2009 and through the years I have raised lots of different types of poultry. Some of these worked out really well and others not so much! When choosing other poultry to raise it's important to note how many eggs they will actually lay, because they're not all the same!

quail, duck, chicken and turkey eggs from a backyard flock

For instance most people think that a goose is a lot like a duck. I mean they're not wrong in certain aspects but if you're looking at egg laying, a goose only lays about 30 - 50 eggs each year whereas a duck can lay 300! That's a big difference, especially if you're raising them for eating eggs! 

Related reading: Comparing size and nutrition of different types of poultry eggs! Ducks, chickens, turkeys and more!

Now if you're raising them to hatch those eggs and sell the babies, then many goslings demand a higher price than ducklings so the goose might actually be a better choice.

Types of poultry to raise other than chickens

Here are my favorite alternative poultry to raise, along with how well they lay eggs and any other pros or cons I've experienced.

Guinea Fowl

Of course I had to start with guineas! First off they are quite loud so if you value your silence, maybe you should skip these quirky birds! Unfortunately Guinea fowl do not lay year round, though they do lay really well during the warmer seasons. Normally they start an early spring and lay until fall. They will not lay in winter at all, no matter what you do! They also hide their eggs so if you let them free range it can be a challenge to make sure you collect all the eggs.

Related reading: How I find guinea fowl nests in the woods.

A guinea fowl hens egg is slightly smaller in size than a standard chicken hens egg and has an extremely hard shell making it more durable for them too hide in those nests that they like to put in the woods! They lay between 100 - 150 eggs a year depending on where you are located! Guinea fowl in warm southern states will start laying earlier in the year than those of us in the frozen north.

Many people keep guineas for bug control and they are so noisy that they also function as an alarm system of sorts. Here are 13 reasons you might want to raise guinea fowl.

poultry eggs. Chicken and quail

Ducks are great to keep for egg laying because many breeds will lay in winter. By winter I don't mean a few eggs here and there, I mean full production all winter long! I raise khaki Campbell ducks and they lay an about 300 eggs per year. They are cold hardy so they do well during snowy winters. Other breeds may lay fewer eggs, with the average being somewhere around 200 per year.

You cannot keep ducks without a water source though so you'll have to provide them with a deep water bowl and some water to splash around in. I know some people try to keep them without a pool or pond, but not only do they need to submerge their bills to eat properly...they'll just be happier when they can swim!

Because of the constant water ducks are a little more work than non waterfowl, and a bit more messy! They do much better in rainy weather though, so if you live somewhere that it rains a lot, ducks might be a better option for you than chickens. There are also adorable mini ducks called call ducks, but of course little ducks lay little eggs.

Geese are similar to ducks except for size and egg production. Geese are much larger than ducks so they will need more space and only lay about 40 eggs a year. Plus geese can be a little meaner during breeding season. While a duck egg is slightly larger than an average chicken egg, a goose egg is about 3X the size!

Related reading: A modern homesteaders guide to keeping geese.


Quail are a great choice as an alternative poultry to raise if you don't have a lot of space. Because they're smaller birds they can take up less space and some people even keep them in a hutch inside the house. Quail lay about 300 eggs a year and they are quite small. You'll need 4-5 quail eggs to equal the size of one chicken egg though.

Quail can be kept in small cages but since they are very good flyers, they would prefer a pen that they can fly in. It's best to have a six or seven foot high flight pen with their coop or hutch inside it. Some people like to keep them in with chickens but you have to make sure they can get away from the chickens and have their own feed and water areas. As a game bird, quail need a higher protein feed.

Unfortunately, quail only live a maximum of 5 years. They actually start laying eggs by the time they're 2 months old, so it's almost like they spend their whole life stuck on fast forward! This could be good or bad depending on your situation. Button quail are even smaller than the standard (coturnix) quail.

caparison chart, different poultry eggs

Other poultry to raise:

There are plenty of other poultry you might want to raise but admittedly they are all more difficult! Emus take up a lot of space and can be less than friendly if not hand reared. I don't know about you but dealing with an ornery, 6 foot tall, 75 lb. bird is not something I want to have happen!

Peacocks need a lot of space because of their ornate feathering and and they're known to yell constantly! I'm pretty sure they're the loudest bird you can raise. Louder even than guinea fowl and that's saying something!

Turkeys are also quite large and only lay one clutch of eggs a year. Though the eggs are about double in size as a standard chicken eggs. 

Of all the different poultry I have raised over the years, my favorites are guinea fowl, ducks and chickens! You can combine these flocks if needed and they all have the same basic needs where food and shelter are concerned. It just works for us!


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