messing with the hens

My first batch of birds were production hens--little laying machines.  They slowed down in the winter, and when they molted, but all in all were reliable producers most of the time. (As they aged, some started laying every other day, but the eggs were HUGE!).

I'm missing the early snow this year, but the girls are happy about having grass in December.

This batch, yard-candy breeds that they are, don't really keep up.  Most of the time this is fine, with a household of two we don't really need 4 eggs a day, and in springtime I have to unload eggs on friends and neighbors as it is.  But, this fall, they all molted, and basically decided to take the rest of the year off of laying.  Normally, I let them follow their instincts, but this year, darnit, I was tired of buying eggs!  And--my ice-cream habits have been severely hampered.

So for the first time this year, I tweaked the birds. I put a light on a timer, just to run a few hours every morning.  And after a few days, success!  I'm getting one or two eggs every other day, which with judicious use is plenty for us--I actually have an entire dozen in the fridge currently.  And really, who doesn't mind a little extra light this time of year? 

Once we get a bit past the Solstice, and start hitting the really cold Wisconsin temperatures, I will put it back to my normal winter setup--which is a full-time water heater and a thermostat plug for the light--it will only come on during very cold nights.

Its easy to forget eggs are seasonal in their way, just like asparagus and brussel sprouts.  Its yet another example of our mixed-up culture that feast days involving copious amounts of rich baking occur during the shortest days of the year, when eggs should be in short supply.  But I guess I'm okay with subverting nature just a little bit, when it comes down to it.

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1 comment:

  1. Very sensible. It's amazing what just a couple more hours of light do for the girls, doesn't it? Also, that's all they need!

    I of course simply have new girls in and laying by now, annually. Sap that I am, it would actually be a lot less resource-intensive if I just kept my old biddies laying by turning a light on for them than actually feeding and caring for their cute daughters WHILE feeding and caring for their cute nonlaying mothers. Sigh. Just call me Chicken Hoarder.


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