One Egg Each

One Egg Each? We Are 8 Billion

If everyone raised their own chickens and hens… (part one)

M.A.C. aims to help people who are uninformed about the poultry sector and therefore exposed to fakes on this subject.

The tool to do this is to provide verifiable information and, when necessary, to clearly explain why pseudo-information – which inevitably leads to fakes and confusion – is detrimental to a proper understanding of the world’s need for food and what are the available and most sustainable ways to do it.

The world’s need for access to healthy, safe, affordable and nutritious food requires a scientific, responsible and professional approach: the poultry industry has been applying this approach for over 70 years.

In the following, we try to support the idea of associations that criticise intensive farming and suggest small, almost family or ‘group’ farms.

We would like to make it clear that what follows is a ‘theoretical/practical exercise’ that takes into account the objections of animal welfare associations to the poultry system and has necessarily been supplemented in method with knowledge derived from the scientific world, without which animal welfare theories (which do not convey suggestions of method corroborated either by worldwide applicable experience or supported by scientific data) could not stand up anyway.


Well… do we want to have eggs and chicken meat without resorting to protected/intensive farming? Let’s do it. What does it take!? Is it enough to follow the guidelines of the associations? Let’s see.

To begin this theoretical experiment, it is enough for each household to have a suitable and adequate space to keep a few chickens and hens.

The animals must then be fetched from somewhere.

But if intensive farms did not exist, where and from whom could we get them?

Let us imagine that we know an enthusiast who owns roosters and hens and perhaps could help us.

It occurs to us that if many people had the same idea, surely our new ‘supplier’ might not have enough.

However, let us pretend that we are the first to do so and disregard (for now) the needs of others. How many hens and chickens will we need?

An expert has informed us: the average annual European consumption of eggs is about 250 per head (of which 100 as indirect consumption in cakes, pasta, …) while for chicken the average annual consumption is about 20kg per head.

For a family of four people, 3 laying hens and 50 chickens will therefore be needed.

The three hens will produce 10-15 eggs per week.

The 50 chickens (once raised, slaughtered and frozen) will make it possible to eat meat once a week (considering one chicken per week per family)

Having defined the need, we now have to buy them and take them ‘home’: for 3 laying hen chicks and 50 broiler chicks we will get by with 50 euros.

Take them home? If we live in a city, we cannot keep them in a flat! (this fact concerns 70% of Europeans and 55% of the world’s inhabitants).

Then we remember that chickens and hens ‘scratch around’ everywhere! However, our building has a nice communal garden. We could keep our chicks there, but would we have to get permission from the other tenants? What if everyone else wants to be able to do the same?

Let’s do the maths:

  • 40 people live in the building, so the number of hens needed to satisfy everyone’s needs becomes 30 and the chickens 500.

You will therefore need:

  • 2,000 square metres just for the chickens because each of them needs at least 4 square metres, as required by law for organic farms, otherwise they might as well be left in a conventional farm
  • a separate enclosure of 120 square metres for the laying hens

But we discover that the communal garden is only 1,000 square metres: we will then have to make two cycles of chickens of 250 heads each.

We start thinking: how will everyone recognise their own animals? And even if we decide to overlook this point by considering the whole as a condominium farm, at least three other things remain to be decided:

  1. Who and how many of the inhabitants will look after them morning and evening, every day of the year, including Christmas, Easter and New Year? With what competences?
  2. For the Health Service permits, how do we do it? What will they ask us to do? How much will it cost to comply?
  3. How will the neighbours react? Will they complain?

But we had long since decided to abandon the flat and move to the country, and this business of raising our chickens was just the final push to convince us that it was time to change our lives!

OK. So we are finally in the country. We have bought the laying and chicken chicks and we just have to properly set up the space we have dedicated to them. This time we have our own outdoor space:

  • for the laying hens a 12 m2 space + an indoor space of 1 or 2 m2, with nests where they will lay their eggs. Here the laying hen chicks will start laying eggs 20 weeks (5 months) after birth.
  • for the chickens an outdoor space of 200 m2 + an indoor space of 5-6 m2. The chickens will be ‘mature’ after 50-80 days.

We will then have to provide them with healthy food, fresh water, and prevent them from catching colds, draughts and diseases.

So we discover that this will not be as easy as it sounds either. Let’s go in order: link to part two


The editorial staff of M.A.C.