Thursday, January 19, 2012 the dark..

We have found that our girls lay eggs for years. Over time, people have told us various beliefs about the business of eggs.

Some people buy pullets..hens that are just ready to lay eggs, full grown girls usually of a production variety. There are lots of breeds of chickens, and several that have been bred to lay an egg a day consistently. Of a uniform size and color. Sometimes the hens have their full beaks, sometimes not. Most times they have been vaccinated against some chicken type ills.

We start with day old chicks, from a variety of mostly heavy breeds. We look at the endangered list from The American Breed Conservancy and order as many as we can from the far left of the list..if we can't, we order from somewhere on the list.

And then the peepers live in a brooder, under lights, for a while. Depending on the time of year longer sometimes. We order on a regular basis, in an effort to have an egg supply year round. This effort has not worked, btw. We have gaps in the months with less sunshine each day, as the girls hate the dark and cold and, let's face it, their babies have a greatly reduced chance of survival in the dead of winter.

We just love a carton of eggs with lots of different color egg shells in it. The eggs themselves taste delicious because of the mobile pens, the moving of the hens to fresh grass..which they decimate in 24 hours..and then leave their waste behind, to fertilize. It is a sight to behold just how green the field is when spring arrives!

Right now the oldest girls are just outside our back door. The pen is moved each day, and they are mowing the high stuff right down.

And we have discovered it is true that they prefer to lay eggs in the dark. Old drop cloths provide a curtain in this pen, and a cushion of straw allows the girls a soft spot. When they are feeling it, we see nests in these boxes. We usually offer a variety of boxes for laying, and the hens fight over the same box, making one large clutch of eggs, leaving other boxes empty or with few in there.

Yesterday, the pen of old gals started laying again. We have found good solutions to hawks killing the hens, but before we did we lost our hens on a regular basis. Some of these girls are 5 years old..the survivors of the last, ugly, devastating hawk on the ground and inside the pen attack. Most are 3 to 4 years old. We are not certain of the age limit of egg production, we will monitor this flock, weigh the cost of feed versus output versus price sold, and in the fall decide what to do with these girls.

For now, we do the happy dance when we see an egg in the box..

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