Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sustainable chickens

Days are shortening rapidly, and right now, we have no eggs from our hens. We have several pullets who are about the right age to begin laying now, but I've noticed the onset of laying may be delayed when a pullet reaches maturity in the late autumn or winter. We also have one hen (see above) who stopped laying when she went broody for the last time (she went broody 3 times this summer), and has been rearing her chicks ever since. 

My husband is less of a trusting nature than I am, and usually suspects our hens of hiding their eggs. I have, however, learned by observation that when the hens are laying, or are about to begin laying, they mate with the rooster; since they have all been shunning the rooster lately, and since I hear no "egg noises", nor see any suspicious moves of hiding under a bush, etc, I think I can say with a reasonable degree of safety we really have no eggs now. 

We heard from other people, whose hens are laying even now, that some artificial light in the coop at night, and some extra feed may do a lot to promote egg-laying, but we decided we will just leave the chickens be and let nature take its course. They all get some layer's crumbles, all our leftovers, and any plant or insect they can find on our lot, which is pretty large. All our chickens enjoy complete free range, except the Silkies, who are too delicate to be let out to fend for themselves. 

So here we remain, looking forward to longer days and some fresh eggs. 


Anonymous said...

We had chickens or several years and even though I did not keep track methodically, I generally found that the chickens who slowed or stopped laying in the short days continued to produce for more years. We kept lights on some years and those hens were about finished in 18-24 months. I also did not find hens who were used to laying in the nest really hiding eggs very often. I loved having a broody hen .I always had to make a secluded place for them once they went broody or the other hens would lay eggs ON the broody hen in the nesting boxes !!!! A lot to observe in the common hen , great fun !!. Karen

Anonymous said...

Since I have chickens myself, I'm very interested in everything concerning their lifes... and deaths. I wondered if you kill and eat your chicken or just keep them for the eggs. When the eggs hatch, you must have too much "male chicken". What do you do with them?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, we don't slaughter our chickens. Aside from the emotional factor, we are Jewish and would need to find someone who does kosher slaughter on a small scale. We can't be bothered. Whenever we have a surplus of cockerels, we give them away to anyone who'll have them.