Chickens Come of Age

We don’t often buy eggs from the store.

Eggs from seven of our chickens

For the best chance of survival, we need our chicks to grow into laying hens before the shorter days of autumn turn blustery. This maturation process takes about six months. The top picture shows some of our older and younger chickens together. Six months ago many of these hens were tiny chicks. Now it’s getting hard to tell them apart.

However, the eggs tell a different story. In the lower picture, the color difference is caused by genetics, but the size difference has much more to do with age. Most of our hens are young, some still haven’t started laying.

Lorraine feeds some of our chickens

For the most part, my wife Lorraine takes care of the chickens. She rises before sunrise and lets them out of the hen house. For the rest of the day, the birds roam over a large area of the farm looking for worms, insects and other bugs. They could probably live on this, but Lorraine makes sure they are well fed from the house. Our chickens will go into this winter with plenty of fat on them.

If chickens are mature and have about twelve hours of daylight they’ll lay eggs. During the summer we have very long days here in the Pacific Northwest, but the leaves have already begun to turn color and, in less than a month, autumn will begin. I need to make a few more repairs to the hen house before then. Last week Lorraine bought bales of wood shavings and straw which are now stacked in the barn. These will provide insulation for the hen house during winter. Such chores seem to never end. 

When the short days of winter arrive our chicken will be plump, dry, and warm, but due to the short, dim days, they won’t lay as many eggs.

Maybe after Christmas, we’ll have to buy some eggs.

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