Year End Egg Tally


I pinned a new egg chart onto the kitchen bulletin board, took down the old and tallied it up. I’ve been using this record keeping system for seven years, and I’ve learned much by looking for patterns and anomalies. For example, take a guess at which month is the highest producing. Did you guess May? June? Year after year, my hens lay the most eggs in March! This is because, by early spring, daylight hours lengthen, the molt is totally done, and (this is important) no one is broody yet. In another month the broodies will be taking up spots in the nesting boxes, but laying nary an egg. By late summer there will be stretches when heat stresses out the hens, reducing their productivity. By the end of August the poorest layers begin to molt. And so, early spring is the prime laying season.

Pullets don’t molt, and so that first year they should lay right through the winter. The Gems did. However, my Literary Ladies (my six pullets) have been a disappointment in their egg laying ability. Twiggy and Nancy Drew, between them, consistently leave ten eggs weekly. Both are breeds designed to be good layers. The others? They don’t lay at all! They are breeds that are not known for being winter hardy, or high producers. Still, I thought they’d lay one or two a week. Nothing! I am looking forward to March and am hoping that they will show their pleasure that it is springtime by leaving me some eggs.

Older hens produce fewer eggs each year. First of all, they take off several months to molt. Secondly, their egg laying ability slacks off somewhat. This year, my Gems laid 1,460 eggs. In 2012 they laid 2,103. Even taking into account that I sold the two broody hens to Kim in Maine, that’s still 643 fewer eggs. Two things happened in 2013 to account for that: there was a severe heat wave, and a respiratory disease felled the flock, requiring antibiotics.

In 2014, the Gems will be into their their third full year of lay. It is likely that a hen or two will die (for some chickens, three is a natural lifespan) and others will lay, but fewer than the year before. Fingers crossed, I won’t have a sick flock again. Meanwhile, the Ladies should be picking up the slack. However, judging by their 2013 performance, I’m not expecting much. Still, the hens in my backyard should lay enough eggs for my household of three. In fact, even during this winter deep freeze, right now, while writing this, I am snacking on a hard-cooked egg.



  1. I had five eggs in the nest box when I went out around 5 pm. The problem, all but one were frozen solid and cracked. The high today was only minus 2. Todays high will be in the low 20’s so that shouldn’t be an issue tonight.
    Any recipes for frozen eggs anyone?
    I did not let them go to waste however. I thawed them out in hot water, microwaved and mixed them in the dogs food as an extra treat for them in this cold weather.

    • None from all the frozen eggs found in nest boxes I have heard of have gone to the dogs to be eaten. Are your ducks doing okay in the extreme cold Ken and begging you to turn on the hose in -10 degree weather ?

  2. Good information, Terry. How many hens did you have last year?

  3. We hung our chart up on the 1st, thanks to you Terry! So far though, all we’ve tallied is the proverbial goose egg (pun intended). All of our remaining 5 are 2 1/2 years old and with a late fall molt and winter, they haven’t laid for 3 months! Our best layer, Helen, a gold laced wyandotte, went up to the nest boxes this morning, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
    Thanks for your articles about loss in the flock. Our bobcat survivor, Pixie, seemed to be doing great, but about 3 months later I went down to let them out and she was huddles and droopy in the corner. She died in my arms about 5 minutes later. No sign before that at all. Sad to lose our favorite hen, but just part of life, and at least the bobcat didn’t get away with her.

    UPDATE: As I was writing this, Roma came up with an egg! Way to go Helen! Tally=1!

    • Yay on the egg! Sorry about Pixie, but in the grand scheme of things, you are all fortunate that she died quickly. It is so hard to see them gradually getting worse and worse.

  4. My three girls are almost 2 years old and laid just over 600 edible eggs last year. Amelia, a Barred Rock, was the stand out performer with 286 while Henny, an Easter Egger, laid 143 beautiful blue eggs. She says that it is quality not quantity that is important and that she needs to take a break from egg laying from November when she starts molting to February when the sun is nice. Scarlet, the other BR, is still laying shell-less eggs but only 1 per week during the winter. I am still hoping that she builds up her calcium reserves since she is soft-molting but I am not as hopeful as I was earlier that this will happen. Amelia has laid 3 eggs this week. She’s a trooper.

      • My BR was laying quite a few soft shell & fragile shelled eggs before her first moult this winter. Since she has started laying again this month, her eggs are perfect, large & hard-shelled. I hope this is an indication that her system has sorted itself out and there will be no more of the faulty ones.

  5. Beautiful pics! My girls just started laying this week. I have 3 Easter Eggers and 3 Barred Rocks. Sunday – 2 light brown eggs, Monday – 2 olive green eggs and today 3 light brown eggs. Not bad for these beginners! =)

  6. I do see more standard Leghorns and Black Sex Links in your future chick purchases Terry. And maybe another Australorp and maybe a few more Buffy Orphingtons since Buffy and Twinkydink have passed away. I would love to see other young pullets named in their honor, and though probably not any other Barred Rocks, maybe a white or black Plymouth Rock.

  7. Are you getting more chicks this spring?!?
    Tell us about the rabbit hutch back in the little barn yard, please.

    • No chicks this spring! I put the hutch out to give the ladies and rabbit a bit more elbow room and an interesting place to go during this bad weather. Already Twiggy has laid her egg in there. I’ll be writing a post about it anon.