Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My First Eggs!

On Jan. 3, one of my chickens laid their first egg! The silly bird laid it outside the coop on the ground, so I didn't find it until the next morning. It was a white egg, somewhat small, and it had frozen and cracked open due to the cold temperatures outside. That same day, I later found three more eggs, all of them in the nesting boxes, and not frozen.

I think the first eggs were laid by one of my White Leghorns, and one of my Turkens (or Naked Necks), since they were taking a lot of interest in the nesting boxes. A White Leghorn:
And a Turken:


  Here are my fresh eggs next to a store bought egg (on left) for size comparison:
As you can see, they are a bit smaller than the store bought egg (I always call store bought eggs tortured chicken eggs, because of the horrible conditions that most hens from commercial egg farms are kept in, but I'll save that soapbox for another time.) They are smaller because my chickens are still young and have not perfected their laying skills yet. They will get bigger as the hens lay more eggs. Since then, I have gathered over a dozen more fresh eggs from my hens.
Fresh eggs from my own hens are so much better than store bought eggs! They have seven times the Beta Carotene, twice the omega 3 fatty acids, three times as much Vitamin E, 1/3 less cholesterol, and 1/4 less saturated fat than store bought eggs. Also, they are so much more delicious! They have a hearty taste that is noticeably more rich in flavor than store bought. You can tell just by looking! The yolk of a store bought egg is typically yellow, whereas the yolk of a backyard egg is orange. The darker color indicates that it has more vitamins and nutrients, much like a darker vegetable indicates the same. 

Normally, most hens do not lay eggs in winter, or at least not very many. However, I did some things to encourage my girls to start laying even though it is winter. They were about laying age (approx. six months old), and I couldn't wait for eggs to start appearing! The first thing I did was to provide them with additional calcium. My birds are currently eating a feed designed for all stages of growth, and so does not provide adequate calcium for laying hens as too much calcium is detrimental to the birds who are not laying. I added free choice oyster shell, which should provide enough calcium for my layers to make good shells for their eggs.
Here you can see their ten gallon feeder which my boyfriend made out of two five gallon buckets, a garbage can lid, and various other items he found in my garage. In the left hand corner is the feeder for the oyster shell, and just above that is the container for kitchen scraps that I feed daily.

I added a light on a timer to stimulate a longer natural day. Chickens need a long period of light each day (as long as daylight would naturally occur in summertime) to produce eggs.  The timer turns the light on at four in the afternoon, when it starts getting dark, and stays on until nine in the evening. This essentially tricks the chickens body into thinking that it is summertime and time to lay even in the dead of winter.

My boyfriend also made them new nesting boxes, also out of five gallon buckets (There are a million and one uses for five gallon buckets!) and some lumber.



The day after he made these nesting boxes, a hen started laying, and some others have started now too.
I am hoping that in a few months when their eggs start to get bigger, I will have enough to sell. I am also hoping to hatch chicks in the spring, enough for myself and some to sell.

I currently only have brown egg layers and white egg layers. But there are other colors of eggs as well. There are chickens who lay blue, green, olive, chocolate brown, and even pink tinted eggs! I really want some blue, green, or olive eggs. I have one chicken who is an Easter Egger- a kind of chicken that lays blue, green, or olive eggs, but unfortunately he is my rooster. He is a beautiful rooster, but he won't give me any blue eggs.





However, if I breed him with my hens and hatch out enough chicks, I may get some chicks who will lay pretty colored eggs. That's what I am hoping to do this spring!




4 comments:

  1. Hello I've just featured the figure of eight chain tutorial that you did in 2012, hope you don't mind http://thealternativefoundry.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/scrimshaw-101.html

    Thank you

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    1. Looks great! Thanks for the mention!

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  2. Even my little one (soon to be 2) seems to like properly raised eggs better. I have noticed that she is more likely to eat every last little crumb of them! I am allergic to eggs so I don't eat eggs, but the local farm eggs have a completely different texture than the ones from Wal Mart and you're right, the yolks are darker. It's such a shame that we've gotten used to "tortured eggs" as the norm!

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    1. Yes, it's so sad that people either don't know or don't care where their food came from!

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