Pullet Update – Current Egg Sizes

The fall brings a series of events that make for interesting visits to the coop looking for eggs. Because I have a mixed flock, there is a combination of pullets and hens out there. The hens haven’t been laying many eggs as of later because they’re molting. The pullet eggs are just now starting to get big enough to really count for something. I still get super jumbo eggs from my Buff Orpingtons. These eggs peg my scale and don’t actually fit well in the carton (even with jumbo cartons, I find I must exercise care in even trying to close it). The Buff Orpingons are the only birds who lay these rather huge eggs.

These super jumbo eggs don't quite fit most cartons.
Super Jumbo Eggs Peg the Scale

The Americauna eggs can get quite large too. The advantage of the Americaunas is that they produce more eggs and eat a bit less than the Buff Orpingtons. Plus, they have these really pretty blue eggs.

The Americaunas produce extra-large to jumbo eggs on a regular basis.
Americaunas Product Beautiful Blue Eggs

At this point, I’m getting eggs in every possible size. You can see the difference in sizes from small on the right to super jumbo on the left. The eggs are always measured by weight. In addition, I check my eggs individually, so a carton that is listed as having large eggs has all large eggs in it (when you buy eggs in the store, the eggs are measured by overall carton weight, which means that you might have a mix of medium, large, and extra-large eggs in a single carton).

Weighing eggs individually is the only way to get consistent carton size.
Eggs Vary Considerably in Size

Even though the medium egg (second from right) looks similar in size to the large egg (directly in the middle), they weigh differently. It’s not always easy to tell just by looking at an egg how much egg you’re actually getting. Of course, the size of your egg can affect the outcome of a recipe (which is why I’ve gone to weighing my eggs as described in Pullet Eggs and Cookies. Let me know about your experiences with various egg sizes at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.


Pullets Eggs and Cookies

The chicks have become pullets and are laying what I would term as pullet bullets—smallish eggs that are sort of bullet shaped. I’m talked about pullet eggs before in the Pullet Eggs post. They’re quite tasty as a snack or even as a breakfast, but you don’t want to use them for baking unless you find it acceptable to weigh the eggs carefully.

I recently started experimenting a bit with pullet eggs because they’ll be a part of my life as long as I have laying hens. A large egg usually weighs between 2 and 2¼ ounces. Pullet eggs sometimes don’t even register on my scale, making them smaller than the 1 ounce peewee eggs. By using a really accurate scale, however, you can gather enough pullet eggs to work for baking purposes. For example, one of my cookie recipes calls for 5 (nominally large) eggs. What it really means is that you need between 10 ounces and 11¼ ounces of egg. In this case, that actually added up to eight pullet eggs (a total of 11 ounces). Because of the extra shell involved, you want to err on the high side of the needed weight.

Initially I was concerned that the yolk to white ratio wouldn’t hold up when working with pullet eggs. After weighing the yolks and whites for several recipes separately, I’ve found that pullet eggs provide slightly higher amounts of yolk, which may make a difference for really sensitive recipes, but hasn’t affected any of the cookies I’ve tried so far. To date, I’ve tried pullet eggs in chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies, and haven’t noticed any difference. However, I’d love to hear from anyone else who has used pullet eggs for baking at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

As the chicks, now pullets, lay more eggs, the eggs slowly become larger. That’s why it’s important to keep weighing the eggs out if you need a precise amount for a recipe. Always keep the larger amount of egg shell in mind as you perform your calculations and the fact that you get slightly more yolk. The difference is really quite small (it varies) and I don’t know that it actually matters, but it could. For me, the real test will come when I make homemade tapioca pudding, which uses the whites and yolks separately.

The older hens are laying few eggs right now. In fact, three of them look downright horrid because they’re moulting. I’ve noticed that the hens require more time to recover from moulting as they grow older. They most definitely don’t lay eggs during this time. One of my older hens has taken upon herself to sit atop the pullet eggs, so she also isn’t laying eggs right now. Some hens, such as my Buff Orpingtons, are especially prone to being broody. The shorter days are also taking a toll on the egg production of the two remaining older hens that are laying. In short, most of the eggs I’m getting now are from the pullets, which is why I’m inclined to experiment a bit to find the best ways in which to use them.

Now that the pullets are mostly full sized, there is peace once again in the coop. My 13 hens and pullets will spend their first winter together soon. On warmer days they’ll go out in the run, but colder days mean a lot more time in the coop, so I’m pleased to see everyone getting along better.


Chicken Fledging

The chicks are fast becoming pullets. No, they won’t become hens for quite a while yet. People get the idea that chicks become hens immediately, but they go through a pullet stage first. A pullet is a chick that lays smallish eggs and hasn’t moulted for the first time yet. A chick becomes a pullet at between 16 and 24 weeks of age. My chicks are currently 17 weeks old, but they’re of a “heavy” variety, which means that they get larger than most hens do and require more time to grow to size. It will likely be closer to the 24 week end of things before I see the first pullet eggs from them.

However, the first signs that they will soon become pullets are all there. For example, their feathers and wings are now strong enough so they can fly to the top of the run fence and walk along it with relative ease. I saw a couple of them outside the run the other day—calling to their buddies who are still on the inside. Most important of all, they can get back into the run when trouble arrives. It won’t be long and they’ll be walking around outside the run on a regular basis, becoming free range birds. These fledged birds now have the ability to defend themselves a little, run from trouble to some extent, and get into all sorts of trouble.

Another sign that they’re becoming pullets is that their combs and wattles are becoming fuller. They’re also making hen-like sounds now. They still don’t quite talk the talk, but they soon will. The beeping phase that happens between being a chick and being a pullet is coming to an end.

The most important sign is that the pelvis bones are starting to separate. You can check the pelvis bones by holding the chick in your arms with it’s back facing toward you. Calm the bird and give it a good place for its feet so it doesn’t kick. Place your hand on its rear and you’ll feel three prominent bones. These bones will separate when the bird is ready to starting laying eggs.

Pullets like to lay their first eggs in privacy, so expect to see the first eggs late in the day or even when you open the coop first thing in the morning. It’s important to check for eggs more often when your pullets start laying to keep egg eating at bay. Once the pullets begin to lay, I’ll go out every two hours during the day to check the nest box. A pullet can also be quite fussy about her surroundings, so make sure you change the hay in the nest box relatively often. Let me know your thoughts about pullets at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.


An Update On Our Pullets

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.


Pullet Eggs

You may have wondered what happened to the laying hens that I talked about in Sunday Surprise! They have grown up and have become pullets. Of course, the question now is what a pullet is and why you should want to know about it. A pullet is a young chicken. Think about it as a teenager—not quite a chick anymore, but also not an adult. A pullet is a chicken that is just starting to experience life and still has more growing to do before becoming a full-fledged chicken.

A female chick becomes a pullet when she lays her first egg. She remains a pullet until she is fully grown, which is usually after her first complete moult after she starts laying eggs. The first egg is a lot smaller than a regular egg. Our chickens will lay large to jumbo eggs. However, the pullet eggs are only about half that size as shown here.


On the left is a large egg from Violet, our Black Australorp. On the right is a pullet egg from Rose, our Delaware. Rose’s eggs will stay the color you see here—an extremely pleasing dark brown. The actual egg looks a bit polka-dotted, which is a characteristic of Delaware eggs. As Rose matures, her eggs will become larger. In fact, her eggs will eventually become larger than the ones that Violet lays.

Now, here’s why you want to know about pullets. Pullet eggs often sell for considerably less at farmer’s markets. In fact, a local farmer sells them for as little as $0.60 a dozen, which is considerably less than the $1.75 a dozen we pay for a dozen factory-produced jumbo eggs in the store (cage free eggs sell for almost $4.00 a dozen and pasture-fed eggs aren’t even available). You never see pullet eggs sold in stores because people think they’re simply too small to eat or that there is possibly something wrong with them.

You do need to know that a pullet egg may not have a yolk—although, all of our pullet eggs so far have had a yolk in them. There is absolutely no difference in taste. However, because pullet eggs always come from a farmer and are likely not from a factory environment, you may actually find that you receive a higher quality product. The statistics quoted for pasture fed chicken eggs, the kind you’ll most likely encounter at a farmer’s market, do differ, but most experts agree that they are better for you.

Our coop has entered a new phase with the addition of pullet eggs. It won’t be long now and we’ll have full-sized eggs to meet all of our needs. The eggs will be significantly better for us than anything we could buy at the store. Now that many cities let people raise chickens, have you ever considered producing your own eggs? Let me know your thoughts at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.