Two sisters, two urban gardens, and a question: How much of our families' food can we produce ourselves?
Moving toward sustainability on urban farms
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.