I recently wrote about our chickens first attempts at laying eggs in my Pullet Eggs post. Of course, nothing remains static. Our nine pullets are laying four eggs on average every day now. That number will increase as spring approaches because the number of daylight hours is increasing. Depending on which source you use, chickens require somewhere between 12 and 14 hours of daylight in order to lay eggs with any frequency.
There are some interesting things to consider beside the number of hours of daylight, however. For example, some chickens are winter layers—they are significantly less affected by the number of daylight hours than other breeds. Our Delaware pullets seem to lay eggs nearly every day. The Ameraucanas are less affected by the lack of daylight, but they lay only every other day. The Black Australorp is laying few eggs (about one a week) because she’s not a winter layer. The Buff Orpingtons naturally lay fewer eggs than the Delawares or Ameraucanas, so it’s hard to tell much about their laying capacity in the winter. We’ll learn more as time progresses.
The weather seems to have less to do with egg laying than the number of daylight hours does. Our chickens seem to continue producing eggs at a regular pace no matter what the outside temperature might be. This past week has seen some extreme cold, but the chickens continued laying. The coop is unheated, so we checked for eggs regularly to keep them from freezing. We also kept the chickens in the coop on days where the daytime temperature was below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hen health is important for getting good eggs though, so we make sure our hens have enough of the right sorts of things to eat. Because this is winter and there are no bugs for our hens to eat, we make sure that they get plenty of high protein food sources. The hens also get greens and other kitchen scraps. Sometimes they look quite funny running around with bits of fruit in their beaks. Along with all of their other food, we do provide them with layer mash—a necessity to ensure they get enough calories to survive the cold temperatures.
We also had something interesting happen with our Black Australorp this past week. She laid the largest double yolked egg I’ve ever seen—it wouldn’t even fit in the egg carton. After I saw the egg my wife brought in, I decided to check our hen to make sure she hadn’t been damaged by laying it, but she seemed just fine. Double yolked eggs are somewhat rare, about 1 in 1000. One this size must be rarer still. I wish I had gotten a picture of it, but we ate it before we thought to get a picture. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before we get another.
Our pullets will turn into hens soon. Each day the eggs get a little larger and we’ll soon have jumbo-sized eggs. The eggs are about medium in size now. We plan to get an egg scale so that we can size the eggs correctly. In the meantime, seeing our chickens grow and develop is nothing short of amazing. Let me know about your chicken experiences at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.