Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Polite Chickens

We have thirty laying hens and one rooster. We have that many to try to guarantee eggs through the winter when even with a light on them, production goes way down. Last year, we did not get eggs from some time in October until late December. I'll admit, it seemed a little unfair to be feeding all those chickens and getting no eggs. The problem was they all molted at pretty much the same time.

This year, I also noticed a dip in production in September, just about the time I agreed to use eggs for a barter. Still, we kept getting enough eggs, and I watched the flock to see what was going on. It was pretty obvious that three or four chickens were molting. A few weeks later, we suddenly got closer to two dozen eggs again. In under a week, we were getting only five and another batch of hens showed signs of molting. And so it has gone the whole fall. Now, I think the last few have almost finished getting feathers and we should go back to close to two dozen eggs a day.

While it has been a little annoying, we have continued to get eggs daily, unlike last year when we had to buy eggs for more than two months while feeding thirty hens. It seems awfully considerate of them to have gone to the trouble to coordinate their molting this way, and they do look prettier with fresh feathers, as you can see in this picture. That poor buff hen lost those hiny feathers last winter when she didn't properly groom herself, and now she's getting more. Don't you know THAT will make her warmer.

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