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Eggsactly

September 14, 2013

If chicks are the harbinger of spring, the first pullet eggs are certainly an indication of fall.  No matter how many times we have raised hens from little chicks, I still get excited about those first tiny pullet eggs.

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It’s almost hard to imagine just how fast these girls will grow into big egg laying girls.

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Summer disappears before you know it, you look at the calendar and you realize it is time to install a nest box for the young girls, and pretty soon you find and egg or two.

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None too soon either – my older hens egg laying is on the wane and signaling the seasonal switch as well.  I am definitely not ready for winter!

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2013 12:55 am

    The first little eggs are so cute aren’t they. Our should start to lay pretty soon too, and some of our older hens will then end up in the freezer, so is the circle of life.

  2. September 14, 2013 3:21 am

    What great pictures of the chicks and then the hens, they look like my 6 red star chicks that are now young hens and starting to lay. I got my 6 chicks for Easter and they started laying in late August, first the eggs are very small and red in color then then they turn a brown color. Time sure does fly by just yesterday we had 4 small ducks and 6 small yellow chicks, all inside in big plastic totes with heat lamps attached. Now even the ducks are laying small green eggs, every morning I let them out to free range the ducks take off for the woods but come back every afternoon. Ellen from Georgia

  3. September 14, 2013 3:30 am

    I share your delight in finding eggs! Pullet eggs are special indeed, but I love finding any eggs at all. Must be the treasure hunter in me. lol

  4. September 14, 2013 5:33 am

    I kind of miss the little fuzzy chicks though. My young ones are not laying yet but should start anytime now. Do you eat the older hens once they quit laying?

    • September 14, 2013 6:25 am

      CQ, me too, they are so cute! We either eat them or barter to someone who want a mature flock without all the mess of raising chicks.

  5. Barb in CA permalink
    September 14, 2013 5:39 am

    Wow, they grow so fast. So how big is your laying flock, and do you replace the entire flock every year?

    • September 14, 2013 6:29 am

      Barb, they do grow so fast, it’s hard to believe in 20 weeks you get eggs! I do replace them every year, the second year usually brings less eggs, too many jumbos with weak shells (invites egg eating) etc., pretty soon you’re feeding hens and not getting many eggs and buying eggs somewhere else. I don’t have much trouble finding people who want 18 month old hens to eat or mature hens for their backyard chicken flock.

      ETA – usually a baker’s dozen is enough but this year I purchased 17 chicks at the feed store, most years I order 25 and sell half. I may still sell some of these, but it’s pretty nice having eggs on hand all the time.

  6. Chris permalink
    September 14, 2013 7:20 am

    Oh, please don’t mention the W. word or the F. word for that matter! :) It is still summer, summer, summer!! Great chicken photos today, especially the grown up girls…they are so healthy looking! We bake that no knead bread and trade a loaf for a dozen of our neighbors, eggs each week. She hates to bake and we don’t have chickens, so works out perfect!
    Have you ever kept one as a barnyard pal…I’ve heard some chickens have quite the personality! :)

    • September 14, 2013 8:20 am

      Chris, I know, it’s coming though, the crows are back, and the Pileated woodpeckers are close-up for fruit, so I know it’s inevitable. 90F today maybe, so I guess it’s still summer for a little bit longer.

      Never have had any desire to keep a chicken as a pet…I’ll stick with dogs and cats :)

  7. Elizabeth permalink
    September 14, 2013 8:30 am

    They look like red stars with a few “easter-eggers” here and there. Have you found these to lay best in your climate?

    • September 14, 2013 9:26 am

      Elizabeth, they do okay, I like the Black Stars myself, but couldn’t get them this year without ordering 25 :( On a whim I bought two Americaunas, it’s been a long time since I have had the blue egg gals, so we’ll see how they do. Commercially for eggs, we’ve had Golden Sex-links, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, Black Australorps and Aracaunas, not a whole lot of difference in egg laying really, more temperament issues and feed conversion to egg ratio issues. The Black Stars are my favorite, I’m switching back to the blacks next year. Higgeldy Piggeldy, my black hen!

      • September 16, 2013 6:54 am

        That’s interesting. From our experience the Aracaunas lay fewer and smaller eggs and take a lot of time off in the winter. Could be a difference in climate too.

        • September 16, 2013 7:30 am

          Well, with only two it will hardly matter, I can always eat them or feed them to the dogs, I’ll know if they aren’t laying because of the eggs. Winter laying depends on when the hen starts, here anyway, my Black Stars having been laying 90% continuously since August 31, 2012 so they have paid for themselves and the replacements and kept us in eggs for a year solid. They are down to about 60% now, I’m getting 6 eggs from 10 hens, but the shell quality is getting weak, the eggs are too large, and I am feeding both sets of hens and getting the same amount of eggs. I hate the transition. Come on pullets!

        • September 16, 2013 8:37 am

          Oh. I think I came across differently than I had intended. I have a certain expectation of the breed. I’m anxious to find out if your experiences match. If not, is it breeding within the breed, climate…???

        • September 16, 2013 9:25 am

          HFS, we haven’t had Aracaunas for years, due to race issues…when we first had them they had their own field pen (this was in the day before feathernet) so the next big craze was feathernet, when Joel abandoned the field pen idea, (though now he has breeders in one or more) so did everyone else, when we combined our field pen hens in the greenhouse for winter, the RIR and Barred Rocks systematically murdered the Aracaunas until we had one left, Cool Hand Luke is what we called her because she just kept surviving the onslaught. Besides the fact that is was getting tiring at the farmers market getting chewed out for not having a complete dozen of brown eggs! “I’m paying for brown eggs I don’t want those, those, other things in there.” Yeah, yeah, we get it.

          One thing you may look at is a greenhouse for your chickens in winter, we sold eggs year round because of it, I know you’re bent on year round pasturing, but really if you’re not home, I think Julie or even one of your kids could do the chores that way. We had big feeders, I mean big, they were actually turkey range feeders,and held about 500#, fed once a week, semi-auto watering and lots of deep bedding. We upped our egg production in winter just by not subjecting the the hens to the predators and elements. Might be the best 4K you ever spent, move them out come spring, clean it out, till, plant. Bingo you got another income stream…not to mention happy hens, and guess what…we fed them alfalfa in the winter for yolk color and vitamin A. The extra eggs and subsequent crop will pay you back in a short time. Even if you gardened in their instead of outside, you would be ahead of the game labor-wise because you won’t be moving compost to the garden area by hand, there is enough residual fertility in the soil after you remove the deep bedding to grow anything. Okay end of sermon, this is getting to sound like and email.

          Side note: in the baby step area, I am out of regular mouth pints, and will have to resort to wide mouth I think. I tore the barn apart yesterday looking in the jar stash for pints, and no luck so I guess I will have to make do.

        • September 16, 2013 9:31 am

          The jar comment cracks me up. I was recently given three antique small-mouth half-gallon jars. I have to use a wooden spoon to clean them with a sponge. With wide-mouth half-gallon I just ask one of the kids to stick their arm inside and scrub.

          The chickens wintered in the pasture last year because there wasn’t another option…and fortunately winter was fairly mild. I’m currently building a greenhouse for this year’s birds and have plans for additional hoop structures on the new property.

          We love our range feeder. Money well spent.

        • September 16, 2013 9:59 am

          You know I have dozens of antique 1/2 gallon blue jars and only one of them is a wide mouth which goes to show folks had to be frugal a long time ago, and in the same vein I only have one or two blue pints too. But I’m with you on the wide mouths for milk or anything greasy. But I use gallon jars for most of my milk, your hands would love those. Too much washing to use 1/2 gallons only. Are you using 1/2 gallons for canning?

          I hate to tell you what we paid for our range feeders…but I will anyway – $5.00 each. Any chance of getting a NCRS grant for a greenhouse?

        • September 16, 2013 10:25 am

          I’m not much of a fan of using your tax money, taken by force, to expand my farming. (On top of personal convictions, Salatin gave me an earful about it last Spring). Besides, I need some expenses to lower our tax burden from all the money we are making…LOL!

        • September 16, 2013 11:00 am

          Hear ya on that one, just thought I would throw it out there.

  8. Kevin Yorke permalink
    September 14, 2013 10:18 am

    I’ve been following you guys for some time now, this morning when I read your update it really brought a smile to my face. I’m hoping some day to live a life like you guys have. Envious of your lifestyle.

    Description: Description: ZIPS Logo Color w_taglineKevin S Yorke | Owner

    Lacasecco, LLC

    703.263.1806 Fax 703.263.1806 | 703.798.3885 Cell

    3853 Dulles South Ct | Suite E, | Chantilly, VA 20151

    kyorke@321zips.com | http://www.321zips.com

    Confidentiality: The information contained in this communication may be confidential and/or legally privileged. It was sent for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). If you are not an intended recipient, you are notified that any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication, or any of its contents, is strictly prohibited. If you received this communication in error, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

  9. September 14, 2013 12:22 pm

    We did Leghorns this year, they are great compact little chickens and started laying about a month ago.. evidently they do well in our rough winters.. Your hens look great, nice and healthy.. c

    • September 14, 2013 12:41 pm

      C., that is one breed I never have been around, sounds like you picked right. I wanted to tell you Jane came back in heat :( Now the waiting game begins :( again!

  10. September 15, 2013 4:26 am

    Oh no, Samson failed (or Jane did)! Can you use him again – in a straw? A late calving…

  11. Barb in CA permalink
    September 15, 2013 5:43 am

    Samson failed? He did such a good job last year?! Dickie is adorable, and all of the beef calves look so healthy. Of course, if I remember correctly, Jane was put in with him at the end of his visit, so maybe his count was low? Does that happen to bulls? [What an odd topic of conversation this is, but I'm curious.]

    • September 15, 2013 6:44 am

      Barb, I think it’s a physical thing, his hip is looking like it’s bothering him, I assumed Jane not settling was an issue with her, until some other cows cycled again. Not looking forward to the bull guy conversation, because nothing is ever the fault of his animals. Jane was put in early and late, I thought maybe I brought her back too soon the first time, this time I left her almost a full 24 hours and missed a milking, so she will be AI’d this time if she didn’t take. As for the bulls, they have to work a lot more than a home bull, because they are continually breeding, it takes a physical toll. When we used to keep a bull he was with the cows for 6 weeks and then basically was kept in the lap of luxury for the remainder of the year. Nice job if you can get it…I guess.

      • September 16, 2013 7:00 am

        Rotational grazing keeps the bull from chasing a cow across the whole farm at your place. I would guess that the bull doesn’t have the luxury of small grazing areas when he visits other farms.

        I would appreciate a little more detail about how you kept a bull outside of breeding season. Did you rotate the bull pasture? Maybe run him with steers to keep him in a herd? How did you keep him from getting too fat off-season? How did you keep him fenced?

        • September 16, 2013 7:23 am

          HFS, yes, he is pimped out, and that is hard on them. Still need to call the pimp :( My luck one of these “GD” hunters cruising around here will “mistake” him for a deer and stick an arrow in him!

          As for bull, he had access to a loafing shed, a couple of acres of pasture and hay. Field fence with offset wire did the trick. It’s been my experience that the it’s harder to keep heifers out than the bull in… He stayed with the horse and that seemed fine. When I was a kid we left the bull with the cows all the time, about 75% calved at the right time, but it’s the 25% that will kill you, the calves, and feed the cougars…hard on the bottom line. I never saw one get too fat, but then I don’t feed alfalfa, so that may be a worry for you.

        • September 16, 2013 8:32 am

          LOL I only have alfalfa because it was there when I bought the place. Give me a few years. It doesn’t withstand broilers during heavy rainfall well.

        • September 16, 2013 9:00 am

          Well, that’s good, I have had many sleepless nights worrying about bulls you don’t have yet getting fat on alfalfa fields! Smirk, smirk.

          Brent’s Salers do well on their alfalfa, excuse me lucerne fields, don’t show Julie though, the south of France looks mighty inviting…I get my vacation fix just reading his blog.
          http://grasspunk.com/about-the-farm/

        • September 16, 2013 9:05 am

          Well, that’s good. I needed something to occupy my lunch hour…for the next few weeks.

  12. September 17, 2013 1:29 pm

    So I found a blue egg comment in your archives:
    I ordered brown eggs, I’m not buying these – there are green ones in the carton!
    What and no ham?
    Good set of quotes in that post.

    We have seen similar reactions as we try to put a blue egg in the front right of every dozen. One customer told us she was afraid of the blue/green eggs so she held it for last. She said it was the best egg in the box and now wants only blue eggs. Ain’t gonna happen. My wife’s aunt won’t buy our eggs because of the blue ones. Oh well.

    I think they are cool but our aracaunas just don’t lay enough eggs for the feed they eat. All brown eggs going forward…unless I go with brown leghorns.

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  1. Failing to Plan for Fall Egg Demand | Chism Heritage Farm

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