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:
Here are my fresh eggs next to a store bought egg (on left) for size comparison:
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.
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!