Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Saturday, March 12, 2011


In celebrating the fact that my 6 lovely hens gave us 5 lovely eggs today I thought I would write a bit about one of the biggest advantages of having hens...EGGS!

A 5 egg day is a good thing

I have a mix of breeds, which gives me a mix of colors and size of eggs.  I get big white eggs from a leghorn (her name is Henrietta, we call her Hen).  Leghorns were specifically bread for egg production.  She's consistent and the eggs are large...I mean larger than the store's jumbo size eggs.  I get brown eggs from Rosie and Red (both Rhode Island Reds).  I get brown eggs from Wheezy, who is a Black Orpington.  I get skinny white eggs from Olga, our Polish hen...she doesn't lay often.  Her breed isn't a laying breed, and she's old...so we're just happy when she lays for us.  Last of all, I get green eggs from Sam (aka Sam-I-Am).  She is an Ameraucana or some call them easter eggers.  She has a beard and is quite pretty despite the fact that breeders consider them mutts as they are often a wide mix of different breeds.

I want to share a great resource I used when I was researching various breeds trying decide which kinds of chickens to get.  Different breeds come in different sizes, have different personality traits, cold hardiness characteristics, and egg production qualities.  Click on the following link for "Henderson's Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart".  You will be amazed to learn the differences.  Some people say not to mix breeds as they may not get along.  Maybe I'm lucky.  Mine get along...  Having said that, just like people, I recognize I have hens with very different personalities, some are bossy, some stick to themselves, some are sweeter and some are more flighty (scared).

Rosie checking out a load of dirt

Raising your own hens can give you an ongoing supply of eggs.  Just like much in life, the more you put into something the better the outcome.  If you feed your hens right, keep them with fresh water and keep them happy (including enough room to play) you will be very happy with their egg production AND the quality of the eggs (see link above-don't expect an egg a day from a breed that can't deliver).  Think of it this way, if you average 3 eggs a day, that is 21 eggs per week!  That is almost 2 dozen per week!  Not shabby.  One other factor that weighs heavy in egg production is the amount of light a hen receives.  Commercial producers have lights on their hens day and night.  I have read a bit about this and the excessive light tends to burn the hen out and shorten her life.  As the seasons change, egg production decreases during the winter months with shorter daylight hours.  Hens moult (they stop laying and loose feathers), this is a time of rejuvination for them...its like their system does a reboot...yes, I work in IT.  But they come out of this ugly time productive and healthier.  Spring and summer come, days are longer and hens will produce more eggs.


Since I've moved on to eggs and breakfast, you should know that the USDA just released a report earlier this year that states eggs are 14% lower in cholesterol and more vitamin D than previously thought.  So enjoy!

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