Eggs from the wild

Egg comparison

[Backpost: Aug-2-2009] Four or five of the girls have been escaping every day, creating their own day pass, and doing a fair imitation of flying while they’re at it. In the morning, I open the chickenhouse door and barricade it with a strip of plastic fencing that leaves a 2′ gap at the top. After I leave, they hop up on the roost, propel themselves, furiously flapping, to the top of the fencing, perch there for a moment, and then head out.

I’m not sure if it’s always the same ones. There are 25 Shaver Red layers, and I haven’t spent enough time hanging out with them to really tell them apart. But I suspect it’s a gang.

They spend the day foraging far and wide around the farm, and return at night, waiting to be let back in. This has been going on for several days, since the meat birds left…

Today, Connor found a few eggs in a thicket they seem to like. Besides being a different color  from all that exposure, the eggs are clearly getting SMALLER (they’re the ones in front). As varied and nutritious as their free-ranging diet may be, it’s lower in protein than the carefully concocted feed available inside. I guess that’s what’s up.

In any case, we’ll soon put up some kind of fence, cut out a chicken door, and they’ll have the best of both worlds: grass and bugs on the outside, protein-rich feed from the feed store inside, and a convenient place to lay.  That will be our state-of-the-art in natural eggs for the next little while…

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13 thoughts on “Eggs from the wild

  1. Our hennies are pastured and their eggs always tend to get smaller this time of year, specifically when the seasons start to change.  I usually see a slight drop in production and smaller size.

  2. Same here. With the change in length of daylight, comes changes with the eggs. You can always augment with artificial light, but we tend to just let the natural cycles run their course. I had a hen last year who would sneak into my  shed and lay eggs under the work bench. She was so persistent I eventually just set up a nest for her under there.

  3. Eggs usually get smaller as the sunny days wane.  As days get shorter, we always left the lights on in our chicken house at night to keep some production going.  I am curious if you are offering them oyster shells or other calcium.

  4. What do you feed them?
    We give them a mixture of veggies found from dumpster diving and dinner, then fish as well. They seem to love watermelon too by the way.
    One of our chickens is molting and looking really unhealthy, she just keeps shedding feathers and it doesnt seem to stop. Any ideas?

  5. For Halley, this is totally normal this time of the year (at least in the U.S. – you’re probably getting darker sooner up there than we are here in far Northern California). One of our hens actually dropped nearly ALL her feathers except for the wing feathers and neck feathers. She looked positively plucked! Give her a bit more protein (bugs, mealworms, whole wheat, scrambled eggs – yes, really – to help). I’ve heard that the hens that drop a ton of feathers are keepers, as they’ll get back into production sooner. Dunno if that’s true.

    As for the escapees. While chickens aren’t exactly the SMARTEST critters on the Farm, once they learn a way out, it’s nearly impossible to stop ’em until you find out HOW they’re getting out. And they’ll bring their little friends with them. I’ve had more than one bird destroy some raised beds I had JUST planted. Goofballs.

    We’re at 43 chickens here on our tiny farm. :)

    Julia

  6. All this catch-up backposting I’ve been doing (and plan to do more of!) can get a little confusing, I guess. Especially when I change the posts to their proper dates (I do that after they fall off the front page), the comments will all be off… Hmm… Oh, well.

    Anyhow, this photo is from August 2. Once we got the runners staying in, the egg size went up again in a couple of days. But now, in September, the eggs overall are starting to get smaller…! I used a light on a timer to extend the days through the winter last year; this year I’m not sure, I’d like to let them slow down and molt naturally, but it also depends on next year’s plans. I wonder what happens with chickens way further south, where the daylength is more the same year-round?

     

  7. Years ago, I had the same problem with my little flock. At the time I was selling eggs to a coop in order to offset the cost of lay mash. I had a nice nesting area, but one game hen constantly escaped and laid a nice clutch just outside of the fenced-off area, yet she never missed roll call. Even when I found the stash, I could never find out how she escaped. So I took the eggs over to the coop. Bad move. When one member cracked one into her cake mix, it was way past prime. Took a couple of free dozens to set that right.

  8. sounds like alota fun. good on you. but if your looking to build a more secure chicken coop for your hens please consider visiting my website thanks
     

  9. Having kept chooks (Australian for chickens) I have experienced the missing egg problem and then not knowing if they are today’s or two months old. The solutioin we found is to keep the girls locked up until past noon with strict instructions to do all you have to do before then.
    Then they had free range until dusk. That also stops them deciding to roost in trees instead of the hen house.
     

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