you might recall that a few months ago we were wondering whether or not we should light the chicken coop to maintain egg production from The Girls over the winter. eventually, we decided to light the coop for a hours if only to try to train them to lay in the morning before we leave for work so we can collect eggs before they freeze in the cold of winter. the theory being that hens will supposedly lay within a few hours of “day break”. if we have the light timer turn on a couple of hours before we leave for work, we hope that most of the The Girls will have laid Their Gifts by the time we leave. any effects on production would be a bonus.
so far, the production results have been great. we’ve heard from several families with backyard hen flocks twice the size of ours who are averaging and egg a day! we’re averaging seven eggs a day from eight hens which is just about the maximum you can expect.
but i can’t say we’ve trained them to lay before we leave for work. or at least not all of them. we’re tracking egg laying times and on a good day we get about half our eggs by 8 am and the other half by noon. it seems like they might be laying earlier and earlier as they get older but it’s hard to tell for sure.
with winter setting in, hopefully they’ll all get to laying by 8 am so we don’t end up with a buch of frozen eggs ( you can eat them after they’re frozen but they’re not as tasty )!
The Girls have been laying about 6-7 eggs a day for the past few weeks which means we’ve quickly moved from “oh cool! eggs!” to “oh my! what do we do with all the eggs!”.
we knew this day would come and the plan all along has been to sell some to offset feed costs and give some of the surplus away friends and neighbors.
this week a neigbor phoned us to tell us he he watched odin race to the coop in his pjs, pick up some eggs & skip back to house. the sight filled his heart with joy and he just wanted to call and thank us for building the coop and doing such a wonderful thing for odin!
so, today it was a pleasure and privilege to pack up some Gifts from the Girls and hand deliver them to our grateful and wonderful neighbors.
it’s been a fun week of collecting eggs from The Girls. whichever one of them started laying has learned to lay in the nesting box instead of randomly around the coop and odin has been super excited to get up in the morning & grab fresh (& warm) eggs from the boxes.
so far we’ve been getting an egg a day from the eight birds which for some reason made me think that only one of the girls has been laying, but it’s hard to know for sure since all the eggs are brown. there’s less and less daylight every day which lowers production, so for all we know three or four of The Girls could be laying every few days instead of one hen laying every day.
today was extra exciting because we found not one but three eggs! so, more than one of The Girls has started laying. and we know for certain the source of one the eggs since it was a pretty pastel blue-green color.
a colored egg can only mean our ameraucana has started leaving us little tasty treasures.
so fun to watch odin grab the eggs, without forgetting to say “thanks!”, and race back up to the house to excitedly show his mother the latest gifts from The Girls.
we been patiently waiting and waiting and waiting for our first egg from The Girls over the past couple of weeks. we knew the day was coming soon since it’s been about 24 weeks since we brought The Girls home which is about the age they should start laying. in anticipation of getting eggs, we’ve even prepared the nesting boxes with golf balls to give them and idea of where they’re supposed to lay.
each morning odin has been running out to check the boxes, only to come back empty handed.
but tonight, while odin was getting ready for bed, when i went out shut them in to the coop, imagine my eggcitement when i spied a single, tiny little egg in the coop!
odin literally leapt for joy when i came in house and handed him the egg ( and almost dropped it! ).
now we’re all wondering which hen laid the egg. amusingly, whomever it was, moved all the straw and the golf balls out of the nesting boxes and built herself a nice nest in the middle of the coop 🙂
a hen will start laying “pullet eggs”, which are dimunitive versions of what you’ll find cartoned on the shelves of your favorite grocery store or food coop. on the left of this photo you can see the pullet egg compared to a “regular brown” medium egg. after 6 weeks or so the hens will start laying full-sized eggs.
“foodies” claim pullet eggs are super tasty and can be used to make, for instance, a extra-creamy and delicious “yolk flan”.
i love me some flan, so i suspect we’ll try to whip up ba batch in the upcoming weeks!
well, what do you expect? it is 10.10.10 which in binary translates to 42 which according to the “the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” is the The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
odin continues to be The Chicken Whisperer. none of The Girls would ever jump into hammock with anyone but him. he holds special powers over The Girls which may or may not be related to his plan to win friends & influence chickens.
postscript: this is my submission to heather champ’s “10/10/10, A most auspicious day” project.
when i asked whether i should light the chicken coop to maintain egg production in the winter, i received quite a range of answers. some folks said they didn’t get any eggs in the winter without supplemental lighting, others said their birds kept laying at about 30% of their summer production and still others said their birds kept laying at 70% of summer production without light. i should add that several folks responded that i shouldn’t light the coop in the winter since there is no reason to “burn out” backyard birds since we’re obviously doing this for love and not money.
i certainly have no interest in burning out the birds and even though i’m guessing that we’ll still get enough production in the winter to yield a few dozen eggs a week without supplemental lighting, i decided to run dedicated electrical to the coop for a variety of reasons. regarding supplemental lighting, i think we’ll turn on a light in the morning for a few hours, not so much to drive production as to try and get them all to lay before we leave for work in the morning so we can collect eggs before they freeze ( supposedly most of The Girls will lay within a few hours of “daybreak” ). and even if we weren’t turning a light on, we’ll still want electric service to power a warmer to keep their water from freezing and for running a heat lamp on the coldest days of winter. and, of course, it will always be nice to be able to turn on a light when i’m shoveling out a path to the coop in the dark after the inevitable snowstorms that will come this winter.
in keeping with their new interest in me and my activities since The Dude Who Looked Like A Lady left, The Girls were more than happy to inspect my work and cluck approvingly from the compost bin while i dug the trench for the electrical line.
now that they have electrical service and a strong wifi signal from the house, i wonder if i should put a laptop in the coop so they can send me a tweet when they lay an egg.
ever since The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady left for a nice home in the country, The Girls have totally taken a liking to me. while they used be so skittish around me i found it hard to believe anyone could have a career in poultry portraiture, nowadays they’ll follow me around the yard and curiously check out whatever i’m doing.
which is all well and fine, except when it involves jumping up on the chopping blocks when i want to split some sauna wood! or maybe this barred rock has a death wish now that her man left.
more seriously, it makes me wonder how flock dynamics change when a rooster leaves. i assume they have to re-establish their pecking order but we haven’t seen any signs of conflict. but do they also become friendlier and more outgoing without a rooster to keep them in check?