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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Chickens

Chickens normally go into molt as the days shorten. After molting, egg laying pretty much stops. There are some breeds that lay nearly all year, but mine are not one of those.

I usually keep enough eggs to last us through the winter but this year I gave away too many eggs. I had to dole out eggs like a miser for our breakfasts and baked goods. 

A few weeks ago, I realized I was going to run out before the hens started laying again. (For these girls, it's usually February.)

An old standby is to put a light in their chicken coop for a few extra hours after dark. 

You want to mimic 12 hours of daylight. To keep hens healthy, only do this after they've molted and only for a few extra hours--not all night.

I waited and waited. Two weeks went by and nada. I was down to two eggs. 

Can I tell you how much it killed me to buy store eggs? 

On the third week, I made breakfast with the store eggs. That's when the girls decided to start laying again. I swear they clucked Merry Christmas to me. 

A day late and three dollars short.

*****

I hope you have plenty of eggs, family, and friends in your life. 

Merry Christmas, my friends!


26 comments:

Mike Keyton said...

You were cutting that eggstremely fine, Maria.

betty said...

I didn't know this about chickens and some being "dormant" with egg laying; glad your's finally decided to starting producing again :)

Merry Christmas!

betty

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, Mike. I know daylight started several hours ago for you, but it's too early for puns across the pond. LOL.

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: Very much so. All chickens go through a molt, losing feathers and turning into ugly ducklings. But when it's over, they look like brand new chickens.

Egg laying is determined by the breed and the length of daylight. There might be others but I know the white leghorn will lay 300 eggs a year.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is some kind of sign I think. Wishing you lots of fresh eggs for Christmas.

Diane Carlisle said...

I had no idea that chickens molt!!! so much interesting information on your blog! :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

Interesting. How long do eggs keep anyway?

Blogoratti said...

Heartwarming post indeed. Greetings and happy holidays!

Maria Zannini said...


Susan: The girls are laying regularly now. As soon as I rebuild my stockpile, I'll shut off the light.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: Molting is a normal part of their life cycle. It's like us shedding skin or hair, but they do a major overhaul once a year.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I can't speak for store eggs, but fresh farm eggs will keep 3-4 months in the fridge if you don't wash them. If you wash them you strip the protective film from them.

Maria Zannini said...

Merry Christmas, Blogoratti!

LD Masterson said...

I'm sorry, I would have commented earlier but I couldn't get past the picture of the chicken in the Santa hat. Ho ho ho.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

yer always good for a smile :)

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Where would I be without Photoshop? :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Then my work here is done. :)

Jenny Schwartz said...

LOL Merry Xmas to your hens, Maria. Long may they lay :)

Angela Brown said...

A hen in a Santa hat is certainly something different lol!

Well, at least the girls are getting in a bit of egg laying but yeah, a little late to the cause lol!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I'm giving those girls the heave-ho in the spring. They're too fussy. I'm going to stick to the black Austrlorps. Very calm birds and good layers.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I was only out three bucks but it was the principle of the thing. I got the cheapest eggs they had too. The organic eggs were going for over $5 a dozen.

No wonder my friends love me when I bring them eggs. :)

LD Masterson said...

It's perfect.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Thank you. :)

Barbara Ann Wright said...

Sneaky! Are you sure they're not cats in disguise? ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Not just sneaky but greedy.

Lynn Viehl said...

Organic eggs are like seven bucks a dozen at the stores here, but we have several farmer neighbors who sell their surplus for a dollar a dozen, so I buy from them. They are delicious, too.

May your Christmas be lovely, peaceful and filled with much love and bounty.

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Thank you, Lynn. Merry Christmas to you and your family!