A Peek at Peak Production

Ready for Collection

Six eggs yesterday!  That’s 100% efficiency from the six ladies of the coop.  “Why?” we ask them.  “It’s September,” we tell them.  “The days are getting shorter, not longer,” we point out.  “During the Spring and Summer when you older girls should have been laying, you were on strike,” we remind them.  “What’s going on?”

Chickens – even grown up lady chickens – never answer.  They keep quiet about their egg-laying habits.  But they do seem to smile when we ask.  And they definitely brag after each production success.  Such a clucking and squawking from the coop! I’m sure they are feeling quite smug.

Even on the Coop Floor

But it’s the two roosters who are crowing to beat their record.  Not that they have anything to do with the egg count.  People often ask about that, mistaking the presence of roosters with the arrival of eggs.  No correlation, of course.  Just like with all of us egg-producers, hens can do that part of the job all by themselves.  They just can’t hatch chicks without those roosters around to fertilize the eggs.

And, of course Mrs. Hen has to feel family-minded before she will decide to “go broody” and forego the pleasures of coop run and garden for three weeks.  She has to be of a mind to sit around on her nest day and night, leaving only once in a while to have a bite of food or a sip of water.  It’s a pretty big commitment and not every good layer is a good sitter.

Part of that lack of nesting instinct can be laid (ahem) right at chicken breeders’ doorsteps.  In an effort to get maximum production from hens, farmers have eschewed the good brooders and have developed many breeds that show little inclination toward parenthood. Through their efforts, Silkies, Cochins, Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Sussex are the five broodiest domestic breeds for home hatching purposes.  We don’t have any of those.

Six for Six

Among the ten breeds known to be the best of the layers, though, we do have one:  a Rhode Island Red.  The others – just your garden variety girls without any claim to fame.  So… maybe yesterday was a fluke.  We definitely aren’t complaining —  just hoping that this is more than a tantalizing peek at the production possibilities.  We’ll see.

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