Tuesday, February 2, 2010

About the Eggs


Michelle asked in the comments about the egg totals in the sidebar -- I have a lot more than I expected.

Generally, chickens molt once a year. It's tied to shortening days and the age of the chicken. For a few weeks they lose many feathers -- we think they look like old, ratty couches. During the molt, they stop laying. All that energy goes into making new feathers.

Six of our hens were babies in April, so they're just under a year old. Two of our hens are older -- one is from our original flock, so she's at least four. The other one was a handoff from another flock; she's probably between two and three. I'm not convinced that the old ladies are laying, although occasionally we'll get an egg that seems out of sequence. Maybe that's them. The six laying hens are in full production right now. Chickens lay roughly once a day, but there's some lag, so we don't get six eggs per day. But very often we do.

Another factor in egg production is light. We don't have a supplemental light in our coop, although the roof is made of clear corrugated roofing panels. Unfortunately, it was put on "upside down," and hasn't been fixed yet. So during the rainy season I keep a tarp on it. That lowers the light some, but they don't seem to mind.

I froze eggs in anticipation of not getting any. They'll probably molt next fall, and we'll be short of eggs then, but it's not the case now. Fortunately I have friends and neighbors who take extra off our hands. It's enough to bring the cost of organic food down around what conventional would be, and my people get to eat much more locally. I'm still not sure that the chickens are an even-money proposition, but I enjoy them.

15 comments:

Michelle said...

Thanks for the explanation! Most of your girls were babies in the summer, that's why so few in July. I've read that some breeds are better winter layers than other breeds, perhaps that's the case with your girls.

Ribbit said...

Alright. Stupid girl question: You can freeze eggs?

Engineeredgarden said...

I want laying hens, but my wife won't let me have any. :-( She says they attract snakes, and would be freaking out from it. You're so lucky!

Stefaneener said...

Michelle, you're right. It was slow going for a bit. I even (gasp) bought eggs.

Ribbit, I went back and edited the post for more information.

EG, I'm sure you could make a snake-proof (which would consequently all-predator proof then) coop, if anyone could. Sounds as though your wife has had some chicken trauma. Just get a neighbor to keep hens in return for vegetables. Or you keep bees and trade. . .

Ribbit said...

OH! I remember that post. I imagined you freezing the whole egg. Now I remember. Thanks!

Kristin said...

I didn't know you could freeze eggs, but I've heard of pickled ones. I'll read your post about it. The dozen in your picture look grand.

Zach said...

I had no idea that you could freeze eggs either. I think I might have read about that somewhere, but I am not 100% on that. With all this talk about chickens, it is making me really antsy to get mine!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I have to say...we have chickens, but I've never thought to freeze eggs! Wish I had when they first came into lay, we were inundated! Like you, I even resorted to buying eggs in the late part of their molt...just didn't seem right somehow.

runninghitherandyon said...

Always fun to read, but I wanted to comment that your photography skills are really quite something. That is a beautiful carton of eggs.

suzee said...

Sorry, posted that last one under my other ID. It's me. :-)

Heather said...

I am still so thrilled to have farm fresh eggs! This is our first year and our girls are laying like crazy. We even get 2 dozen a day a few days per week. So far no problem keeping them farmed out to others. So nice that you can keep your neighbors and loved ones in eggs too. Everyone benefits!

Mr. H. said...

I tried to explain to my chickens that it was foolish of them to molt in December and January...our coldest months. I don't quite get that part yet. It sounds like yours are doing great. We also froze eggs, again, and did not need to.:)

kitsapFG said...

I adore chickens but I cannot quite figure out how I would fit them into my property as all the available areas left are in dark shade. I grew up on a mini farm and my folks raised chickens for the meat (to feed a large family) and the eggs - which they sold locally ot make ends meet.

Stefaneener said...

Kristin, my neighbor loves pickled eggs but has become vegan, so I'm not trying that!

Zach, they are kind of fun.

CVF -- it's hard to buy them when I'm out there feeding chickens.

Suzee, I knew it was you. Thanks for the compliment. With a subject like this it's hard to go wrong.

Heather, in the long run I'm not 100% convinced that it's an even money proposition, but the eggs are nice.

Mr. H., when you get the key to talking to chickens, let me know. I think we're going to have a winter molt next year.

Kalena Michele said...

Hi! This is my first time on your blog, How wonderful it must be to have fresh eggs at your fingertips. I've never heard of freezing eggs before. Another Google assignment! Thanks, and I'll be back :)