The Egg Stash

My ladies have been on an egg strike this winter, but considering they are in their third laying season, I wasn’t at all surprised. It’s common to see a decrease in egg production after two seasons, but to completely stop laying did seem a little drastic.

Their nests were empty day after day, after awhile I just decided to love my freeloading ladies just the same. I didn’t go on any egg hunts, for years my hens have laid their eggs in exactly the same place.

This morning I noticed my polish hen Penny was not at the gate waiting for her breakfast. I called her and there was no response, odd, I thought. Usually I’m tripping over her every single morning. My immediate gut feeling was she died, and I dreaded that walk to the coop to look. I lifted the roof of her coop and it was empty. There’s another coop in the yard from a previous flock, but nobody ever goes in there, I checked anyway.

I pulled back the tarps and slowly lifted the roof worried about what I’d find. There she was! My Penny was sitting quietly in the corner. Of course I was happy to see she was at least thinking about laying again, but I didn’t expect to find a stash of eggs under her!  I know I’ve preached over and over about how hens often stray from their nest area and pick a new place. Well, this time I should have taken my own advice and gone on my own egg hunt. Apparently my ladies have moved, this is what I found under Penny. Shame on me!

TBN Eggs 2013

Laying Hens and How Light Effects Egg Production

If your chickens are laying less frequent, this article many help you understand why.

If you haven’t made any big changes to how you’re caring for them, there’s a good chance it’s caused by the short day lengths. Chickens need 14-16 hours of light each day to lay their best… Continue Reading

Featherless Jo

Jojo

Jojo is my Sizzle bantam hen, she’s just over a year old, a good layer, friendly, and ugly a nudist.  At about six months old she lost her feathers and has been near naked ever since. I checked her for parasites and found nothing. Assuming the other hens were picking on her I removed her from the flock and fixed her a place in the barn where she could recover.

There are two other free roaming old hens out there as well. After six months they finally accepted Jojo’s rather disturbing appearance and have graciously allowed her to nest with them. Thank goodness for that, it’s getting chilly at night, certainly too chilly for naked Jojo to roost alone. All three of these hens have their own reasons for where they live… we call it the South coop. The designated special needs/retirement home for old or weirdo birds.

North coop is where my best hens live, they are usually an established flock of peaceful and productive layers. However, that isn’t quite the case lately. My current flock was hatched in 2010 and their egg production has significantly dropped. This is expected, and even more so during the cooler months, but some haven’t layed for months. November is usually when I bring new chicks to the farm, but I chose not to the last two seasons. I didn’t want the hassle of introducing new birds to an existing flock and then watching the chicken yard become a pecking order war zone.

This is when keeping chickens as layers only can be a problem, we don’t eat our birds, we build them retirement homes instead. I still have until February to fill the brooder if I change my mind on baby chicks. South coop is already occupied, North coop too… but I think West coop has a nice ring to it, don’t you?