Monday, December 15, 2008

Chickens are a-laying

Free-range chickens lay eggs with dark yolks!

So as I mentioned last week, the chickens have started laying eggs for us. We are seeing a distinct pattern, too. So far, we are getting two white eggs and one brown egg each day. This means that since we only have two chickens who lay white eggs, they are laying an egg a day. This is pretty unusual for this time of year (dark days generally mean less eggs), but the white leghorns are supposed to be the most prolific layers of our group (the reason we got them) it does make sense. We are getting one brown egg a day, but we are fairly certain that they are not all coming from the same RIR. In fact, based on shell pattern, it's obvious that we have at least two different RIR's a-laying at the moment. It's possible that three of them are in the game since we do occasionally get two brown eggs in one day.

We know for certain that none of the 'easter egg' birds are laying yet. These are mixed breed birds with Americana/Arucana characteristics. They will lay blue-green eggs once they start laying, so we will know when they are of 'age'.

The roosters seemed to have calmed down a bit. There was quite a bit of agression from one of them right as the laying began, but they seemed to have either put their fighting on hold in the interest of staying warm, or the 'lesser' rooster has learned that he does not get to procreate (which used to piss off the head rooster and cause fights). It is supposed to warm back up to normal winter temps next week, so we'll keep an eye on them. I think we've decided to put the big guy into the pot...but we'll make the final decision when it's time to make the cut.

Funny thing happened last weekend when the chickens were free-ranging in the goat pen. We put them in with the goats so that we can go and do other things and not worry about them. It's possible they could still be taken by large birds of prey, but at least in the pen they are safe from our neighbor's dogs...which are definitely the most immediate threat. Anyway, when they are in the pen, they do not have access to their coop. We put their waterer in with them, but they forage for food and use the goat's play table for shelter when it rains. I was feeding some weeds to the goats and noticed that one of the white leghorn girls was pacing back and forth against the fence, closest to where the coop was located. She was clearly agitated! I called to my H to come and put her in the coop because I had a feeling that she had to lay an egg. Sure enough, as soon as he put her in there she ran into the coop and into a nesting box to lay! Poor thing, she was probably thinking "got an egg coming, gotta get to the an egg coming, gotta get to the coop!".

The weather has been so horrible since then that we haven't free-ranged them (no grass to find anyway!). If we can, I hope to let them out there this weekend. I plan to make a temporary nesting box for them out of an old kitty litter bucket that we can leave in the goat pen for 'free-range' days.

The coop as it looked this morning...looks like it's made out of gingerbread and icing!

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