I have sixteen hens, but only one has been producing eggs this winter. I’m not surprised or disappointed by the lack of eggs. It’s expected. Nine hens are in their third year. Late last summer they all molted and are taking a much needed rejuvenating break. Most of them will resume laying by the end of February. Six hens hatched in March of 2013. They too have molted and are restoring their internal supplies of minerals before laying again later this winter. However, one chicken has not ceased laying. Twiggy, the white Leghorn, is the poster girl for a productive hen. Despite the winter weather, the darker days, and her age (almost two), she is laying about four eggs a week. That’s down from her daily egg in the summer, but still! This is why farmers love Leghorns. Those extra eggs can make the difference in the financial survival of a small farm.
I keep the less productive birds simply because I like having them around, which makes yesterday’s bonanza that much more thrilling. Three eggs! One from Twiggy, one from Beatrix, and an egg from one of the Black Stars. When the landscape is white and frozen, those winter eggs are especially welcome and not taken for granted.
The key to this winter bounty? Windows. It’s cloudy and dreary. The wind has been bitter cold. The chickens spend much of their time indoors. But I designed the barns to let light in. As soon as the sun rises, the hens wake up and become busy. They eat. They scratch. They preen. All of that activity during every minute of daylight shortens the winter laying hiatus, and so I have eggs in the basket even when sunset comes early and there’s snow on the ground.
Think about it – sunshine streaming into your house makes you happy, doesn’t it? Your hens feel the same way.
My young group (under a year) have been very productive all except Mamie my polish, totally useless, but i love her quirkiness, ill probally pass out if i ever see an egg from her. My old ladies (3 1/2) lay rarely now, every once in awhile I get an egg, can always tell by the thinner shell, but they worked hard in thier youth so they deserve a happy retirement, and I love them to death. Will wait till next year for more chicks, do not want to over crowd, luckily there are a few small farms in the area that I can get eggs from, when I dont have any. I never want to buy supermarket eggs again, I used to buy organic eggs when I was without but no more If I cant get from a local small farmer I will do without. Humane treatment is huge with me.
I just bought a dozen eggs from farmer who has a small flock of pullets that are kept in an old barn and run. You’re right – I’d rather by those than organic from an industrial concern far away.
I’m thrilled to have two layers instead of one as of yesterday despite this morning’s temp of -25C (-13F). But I do see the days getting longer…when we board our ferry at 5 p.m., there is a touch of light left in the sky. Hope reigns! Enjoy the fantastic sunshine!
Your temps make the 16 degree temps this morning seem downright balmy. Thanks for keeping things in perspective :)
Wow three eggs! I was excited when I got my first one this year, since no one layed in December. My 3 older girls (3yrs old next month) have started up again and my 8 new ones (4 1/2 mo) should be laying next month, since they eat so much. Smile. Just wanted to tell you, Terry, I finally got some Koop Clean (picked it up in N. California on last trip down there. At least it is getting closer to us. My girls spend hours scratching in it…they love it and so do I. Thank you for all your helpful advice. Enjoy the coffee!
Terry, Im excited went to recycling this morning and brought back a bunch of discarded wreaths, i couldnt handle the trees but thge girls are now enjoying the new additions, also got my first bag of koop kleen, its pricey but cant wait to try it. I’ll mix it with the reg shavings and straw to stretch it a bit.
me again, did you ever read The Fir Tree? Everytime I see all the discarded trees I think of that story, its very sad!
I’ve been getting three eggs a day all winter. From a R.I.R, Cuckoo and a Easter Egger, this springs hatch.
I lost three pullets (plus 5 older hens and a roo) to a dog this past year but three a day keeps me and my son in good supply. Just no eggs to share.
Sorry to hear about your losses, Ken. Was it one attack by said dog or did it happen more then once?
We got our first egg of 2015 yesterday! Henny Penny was in the nest box in the morning so I was very surprised to find that it was Scarlett that laid the prize. I love your egg basket. I wish there was a farm nearby where I could buy eggs but since there isn’t, I often have to buy eggs at the supermarket or farmer’s market. I prefer eggs from pastured hens instead of commercial organic operations because I want the chickens to be spending most of their time outside with grass, dirt, and bugs. The commercial operations say “free-range” but that just means that the birds are provided a way to go out to a bare patch of dirt but they are fed and watered inside so not given any incentive to go out.
Beautiful eggs! I’ve been recording my daily total on the Egg Record! I didn’t realize what hard workers my girls were :)