Harvest Monday and Egg Dilemma

December 16, 2013

The only things left to harvest until we start the greenhouses are carrots. I wanted to cover the main garden with chicken manure so it could break down all winter & be ready for spring planting. The only thing left in the main garden were carrots. Though they were not completely ready, I went ahead and pulled the row & had the girls clean them while I scooped poop 🙂

December 04 13 - 0226 December 04 13 - 0241 December 04 13 - 0304December 04 13 - 0362(Wood shavings & poop. Looks more like wood shavings but I promise, there was PLENTY of poop in there! Most of that is from the the table under their roost, which catches most of the poop in the coop.)

Dilemma:

At Thanksgiving, we had so many eggs, I had to set some aside to ‘age’ so I could make deviled eggs. Now, less than a month later, I am having to go to the grocery store and BUY eggs! I am so frustrated and perplexed! Out of my 20 chickens, we didn’t get out first eggs until they were 27.5 weeks old! They never (as a whole) laid more than 10 or so a day and a week & a half ago, they started laying only 3/day. I realize daylight hours are less but I thought the first year they were supposed to lay throughout the winter!

As soon as it became Fall, the chickens started getting out of their tunnel. Egg production dropped because we could not find them. After a month or so, we decided to make them stay in the run, which has plenty of room but no grass (lots of room to forage though). It is partially in the woods. Some were still flying out when egg production dropped from 10 to 3 eggs/day so we clipped some wings. Now, no chickens are getting out, they are getting plenty of feed, plenty of water, plenty of exercise…and still 3 eggs/day.

December 04 13 - 0137 December 04 13 - 0152My reaction: NOT impressed with these breeds. However, I have heard nothing but wonderful things about these breeds which makes me think it must be something we’re doing…I just can’t figure out what! They look healthy & happy…idk what to do!

October 27 13 - 0044 December 04 13 - 0252 November 2406 13 - 0033We got the Orpingtons & Australorps because they are docile (we have lots of kids so that was important) and they are (supposed to be) good layers. I am thinking of maybe not worrying so much about the docility next time and just going with ‘good layers’. Am I being naive? What do you think?

Go check out what others are harvesting from their winter gardens at Daphne’s Dandelions and please comment if you have any chicken experience/insight! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Harvest Monday and Egg Dilemma

  1. Becca

    Our egg production is way down, too. The coop has artificial lighting so the shorter days shouldn’t be affecting them. Maybe it is the cold. I really don’t know, but if you figure out the cause, let me know! We’ve got Lohmann Browns which are supposed to be good layers, but I guess everyone slows downs in winter.

    Reply
    1. newbiegardengirl Post author

      idk…i LOVE watching them out the window as i wash dishes but i don’t pet them or anything – i see them (and our cat) as fun to watch but they have a job. i’m not going to spend money feeding an animal unless it works for me.

      Reply
  2. Lisa and Robb

    We have four hens, all heritage breeds as opposed to production layers. They take the winters off from laying, even the first year. From what I’ve read, these birds will live longer, because they won’t burn themselves out being egg factories. I’m okay with that. Our ancestors didn’t get eggs all year ’round. Why do you think the egg is a symbol of easter-time/springtime? It’s because chickens start laying again in the spring, and people are so thankful to have a steady supply of protein again.

    As for “aging” your boiled eggs. We use a vintage egg steamer, and never have any problems peeling our fresh-from-the-hen eggs. You might look into steaming, rather than boiling, if you’re aging eggs to get them to peel easier.

    Just a thought….

    Reply
    1. newbiegardengirl Post author

      yes, i was just reading about thinking of eggs as a ‘crop’ instead of a year-round provision. i like that way of thinking of it…goes along w/eating with the seasons 🙂

      and yes, i did steam them and it worked PERFECTLY! I still set some aside so I didn’t use the absolute freshest eggs though (they were a week old instead of a day old) 🙂

      Reply
  3. Daphne

    I wish I could help you, but know nothing about chickens. Maybe in future years when the eggs are coming fast, you could freeze some for the winter. It is what I do with my vegetable crops so I can eat from the garden over the winter. I hear eggs out of the shell freeze pretty well.

    Reply
  4. Robin

    I’m new at raising hens for eggs, started this spring. I’ve got 12 hens, 2 of each: Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orphingtons, Auracanas, Golden Reds and Black Sex Links.
    I live in Northern NH. Days are short but my girls are laying as usual, 10 to 12 eggs a day. I do have a heat lamp in the coop as we will get temps from -10 to -40. The coop was built in my garage (not a heated garage) which gives them a bit more warmth as garages always stay about 20 degrees higher than the outside temp. With that said, I also have an infrared heater if I feel it will be needed on days or nights that are below zero.
    I expected the egg production to dwindle but there’s been no change. I do leave on the garage light until about nine pm. They only get a bit of light from that bulb as it’s not near the coop; also, the heat lamp (red light) I’ve been told this will have no effect on the egg production. Oh, the only other thing I do for the girls is play soft music for them with a small radio. I swear, there is one girl that sings with the songs! It actually soothes them…many old time farmers told me this info. The guys that built the coop are old time farmers and do this for their chickens. Happy girls they are!! They’re really groovin’ on the Christmas tunes right now! Hope this helps in some way for you.

    Reply

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