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Are You a Spring Chicken?

A spring chicken, I am not. But did you know that spring chickens start laying in the fall, carrying us through winter? And fall chickens are the ones that start laying eggs in the spring, carrying us through summertime. I hope production keeps up as the thermometer is hanging out at the top.

Most chickens have an egg production between 180-250 eggs per year. That leaves about half of the year without eggs. If only each chicken would lay an egg every other day it would be great... but many of them stop laying eggs when it's excessively hot or cold, leaving long spans of time without any eggs at all. And since we sell eggs and noodles, that is a problem.

We have improved upon our egg production by getting new chicks every spring and fall. Our theory is that new layers will do better in extreme temperatures as opposed to the older hens. At least that is my theory, which will be put to the test over the next few months of brutal heat. So far, so good. We are holding up with egg production for now.

I have noticed that the eggs get smaller when it is hot. We still count them all as blessings because sometimes there aren't any eggs at all in the summer heat. An interesting observation is I've also noticed that the egg yolks are lighter in some of the eggs. I find it strange because they all have access to the same pasture with grass, bugs and worms. Leghorns are almost daily layers. Maybe the yellow gets depleted when they lay eggs every day in the heat. Or maybe they are picky eaters. What do you think?

In the fall, I purchased leghorn chicks and a few easter-eggers that lay blue eggs. I also purchased some chicks that were labeled as a "rare breed" from Tractor Supply. They are lavender chickens, but it turns out they lay white eggs. I would not have purchased them had I known they were white egg producers at the time of purchase because I paid more for them as a "rare breed" that had no other information including what breed they actually are. So with the leghorns and these "rare breed" hens, I'm getting a lot of white eggs. The nice thing about the leghorns is that they lay almost daily while other breeds lay quite a bit less. It is possible that I could have a few eggs available for purchase all summer, albeit they may be mostly white eggs.

Pretty colorful eggs are my favorite, but nutritionally, the pretty shells do not make a more nutritional egg.

Pastured chickens lay the best tasting eggs. The woods have nice loose leaves for scratching around as they search for tasty treats. We recently found an entire nest of eggs that were probably old. That is one of the downsides of "pastured" eggs. They lay eggs in the pasture!

We lose quite a few to predators when the chickens leave the protected area where Ronnie, our livestock guardian dog can keep them safe. The woods are where coyotes, bobcats and raccoons live and they love a delicious chicken meal at our expense. Which means we have to keep replacing chickens. Predation is one of the reasons why true pastured eggs cost more.

The chicks that we are raising for fall and Winter egg production are already in the grow-out pen where they can grow up safe from predators, with shade and an automatic waterer. The first-graders at St. Paul Serbin hatched some of our own eggs which include olive-eggers, easter-eggers and marans. Some of those are roosters. We also purchased some Welbars which lay dark brown eggs. We hope these will carry us through the winter time.

There were a few broody hens that were placed in with the chicks. These hens stop laying eggs when they go broody. We tried to let them hatch a few eggs, but they weren't good sitters. So they get separated from the hens that are laying. Once they start laying eggs again, then they can go back with the rest of the flock.

As always, we thank you so much for caring about what we do on the farm, and for subscribing. That makes you cool! Even in these triple digits! God's blessings to all of you.


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