On the egg onslaught

“She’s set it down, but it’s not food!” Disappointing Blanche, Nice Rose and Emilie just for a photo

So we passed something of a farm record last Friday:  one dozen eggs in one day.

Then, the next day, we got 13.  The next, 15.  Holy frittati!

This surprises me, though the numbers shouldn’t.  It’s one of those math puzzles I have such a mental block about:  I am getting eggs from hens whom I don’t consider egg-layers.  So, philosophically, I have three categories of chickens:  egg-layers, meat birds, and bantams.  The bantams, quarter-sized chickens, are simply cute yard decorations.  But all three categories of chicken (25 girls) lay eggs.  Year-round, apparently!  It really picked up after the December solstice.  So:  each bird lays an egg every 36 hours or so (less if they’re young) and so, duh, I should have a dozen eggs a day.

(If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, El…)

I “expect” eggs from my stalwarts like crazy Pauline the Egg Machine (she’s a Leghorn) and Verloe, the RIR.  And all the new egg birds are just that, new, so they’re in their most productive year.  Likewise, all those extra meat birds I couldn’t bring myself to slaughter (3 thus, still unnamed) AND their clutchmates are eggy now too…as are the cute Bantam chickens (Janet, LaToya, Rebbie and Featherfoot) with their even cuter half-sized eggs.

But yeah, we’re awash in eggs.  Luckily, I have customers!

17 responses to “On the egg onslaught

  1. I thought egg production was supposed to slow down during the dark months. What kind of steroids are you feeding those chickens?

    • Oh, Ed, but it DOES slow down, from mid-Oct. to Dec. 21st…then it picks back up again. I have no idea why they’re laying so well, as I don’t even have a light on in there to trick them into laying. I blame the roosters. But then, I blame them for everything 🙂

  2. Happy New Year El –

    I LOVE the new photo in the header!

  3. Do you have tiny bantam eggs? Our egg production hasn’t slowed at all — if I don’t count the elderly “should’ve slaughtered ’em” hens. Six to seven a day. . . most days. Don’t they have to molt?

    No roosters here. And I have frozen eggs hanging around.

  4. One day I’d like to have chickens. I am mostly afraid of keeping them alive over the winter. What do you do?

    And I would only have egg laying hens. How many years can you get out of an egg laying hen?

  5. I don’t know too much about chickens other than having to clean their coops when I was a kid but I did think the laying slowed down over winter though I suppose the light levels are picking up… Lucky you!

  6. Angie, same to you! Could be a very interesting year for you too 🙂

    Stef, they sure started out tiny. Now, they’re more like half-sized. Still adorable though. The yolks, surprisingly, aren’t 1/2 sized more like 2/3rds. These ratios I find terribly interesting, considering that last year we had goose, turkey, guinea and chicken eggs to eat: the yolk/white issue varies with each bird. BUT yeah, our old girls do moult; they’re smart and actually do it right when it starts to get cold, like Oct. Or maybe not so smart because they shiver through Nov. Anyway, the old biddies are in fine feathered form now. And: I have never killed my old girls, just let them keep going.

    Selina, well, they’re a lot hardier than you would think. I have a pretty big coop and a lot of birds; if you have a small coop and only a few birds then their ability to keep it warm is actually pretty good. Straw is a great insulator, surprisingly; on their dirt floor in the coop I have a good 12-18″ of straw. I just let the poop pile up over the winter and the decomp process actually keeps things warm too (and no, it’s not overwhelmingly stinky, just certainly barn-y). I started with 5, lost two to hawks, then had 3 over my first winter; we got by on their eggs just fine. Then, I got 5 more birds, and lost one to natural causes; 7 birds still kept us in enough eggs for ourselves and a few other families. Now, well, now it’s nuts. And they’ll lay their entire lives. A 7 year old hen, though, might only lay 20 eggs during her last year. It becomes a numbers game then if you keep unproductive hens around. Chickens are cheap entertainment, so I’ll keep the malingerers…they tend to teach the younger birds the ropes, anyway.

    OG, yeah, it does slow down: In Oct., I think I was maybe getting 2 eggs a day! That’s still 14 in a week which is plenty… I know cleaning out the coops is not exactly the funnest thing but that is brown gold as far as the garden is concerned 🙂

  7. Ha I love their expressions–its as if they’ve never seen an egg before!

    I broke down and bought a dozen eggs right before the holidays as we were down to one a day if that and I thought we might need them. Suddenly on the Solstice we had THREE eggs (out of six birds) and they have mostly kept it up since then. I had given them a pep talk on how it was all uphill from here, sunlight-wise and I guess they listened! Now I have way too many in my fridge again…

  8. My 18 chickie girls are consistently laying 12 to 16 a day. They’ve also picked up considerably.
    We are on about day ten of highs in the 20’s here in Indiana. It doesn’t seem to bother the girls a bit.
    I have access to pine chips, so I use that for litter on a dirt floor and it is not at all stinky.
    Today school is called off so I’m mooning over seed catalogs. Where do you like to get seeds? Do those tiny bird brains know to not eat what isn’t good for them, or must you be careful about what you plant where they range?

  9. jealous! we have 13 buff orpington girls, and we’re down to 1-2 eggs/day. waiting for it to pick back up…

  10. Too funny!
    They HATE the snow.
    Too spoiled.
    The ground is frozen solid, so of course, I scraped an area to dirt so they would venture out at all to get their warm oatmeal. Only 5 or 6 were brave enough even then.

  11. Can I just say that I love the fact that you named two of your birds Janet and LaToya? Lol, literally. Nice start to my day.

  12. Their expressions! And wow, the amount of eggs – lucky customers. Do you have ‘standing order’ customers?

  13. …and here I am looking for someone to get free range eggs from in Central Florida!

    Lucky you!!!! ENJOY!!!! 🙂

  14. Sara, I am telling you, laying hens are the key to reminding yourself that winter is ending!! At least that is what *I* tell myself when the eggfest begins around Christmas: more light! I went through the same thing you did one year and almost bought eggs…they were really super precious there for a while, dernit.

    Kimberly, mostly I get mine from Fedco and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Both of those places signed the Safe Seed Pledge and are Monsanto-free. See my links above (seeds/trees) to find ’em. AND: how funny: I told you they’d freak out! Our littlest bird, Featherfoot (a Belgian d’Uccles mille fleur; she’s gorgeous) puts on quite a show when she leaves the coop each morning. BUT: I would come running for warm oatmeal, wouldn’t you?

    Serina, tell them to get on it! I wish you good egg vibes from my girls to yours.

    Amanda, don’t forget Rebbie, the forgotten 8th Jackson. The bantam rooster is Michael Jackson, and although that sounds like, well, taboo stuff, these three are impossible to tell apart…but can all dance and sing.

    MC, can’t you see why I love them so? They’re really worth 1000 laughs a day. And no, just some friends who love eggs.

    Hope things aren’t too darned chilly for you down there, pd! You know, so nothing precious freezes beyond saving. Good luck with the egg thing; check out Local Harvest.org and maybe you can find someone near you.

  15. Same here, with consistent egg increase since the solstice. 5 hens, and on good days, it’s 5 eggs a day. We are averaging 3 or 4 a day. It”s been amazing given how cold it’s been (at least amazing to us first timers) I credit the fact that they are outdoors (with shelter), get plenty of exercise, and still get a pretty good diet (not as good as Mr. H’s chicken – http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/2009/01/all-cooped-up.html
    but still pretty good!

    and yes, Mr Rooster must help with morale (like the drones in the beehive, they have a purpose other than impregnating a queen….)

  16. We were doing good, until last week. This prolonged cold spell has stopped the production of my eggs. Sigh.


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