Back In Production Again

Jan 22, 2018 | 0 comments

This Week’s Supply

Twelve eggs in seven days!  Not a world’s record for four hens – not even for our four hens.  But, in our coop right now it’s huge news.  We only wish we knew the why of it all.

Why, for instance, was there a total work shutdown from July through November?  By November, of course, the ‘experts’ (other fowl owners and sellers of chicken feed) were saying that it was the “low light levels.”  But, that doesn’t explain July, August, and September.  Not satisfactorily.

Nest Box This Morning

Why, also, has laying begun in earnest now that the darkest months are upon us?  Any chicken expert (see above) worth his salt and pepper will tell you that. According to Poultrykeeper.com, in fact:   “There is a gland behind the eyes of our birds called a pituitary gland. When stimulated by light this produces a hormone that is carried via the bloodstream to the ovary which sets egg production in motion.”

That article, like many others we have read, goes on to say that setting up artificial light (even a twenty-watt bulb) in the coop will increase winter production.  We’ve actually done that in the past by running a heavy-duty electrical cord from our house to the coop, but it’s not the best way to solve the problem.  This past year, being as it was, it all seemed too much to cope with.  And besides… the problem began in summer.

Aunt Rye (Ella Caulfield) and Banty Chickens at Heckes Inn, c. 1930

I remember (just barely… ahem!) when my grandmother would ‘put up eggs in water glass’ in the fall when her chickens were still in full production mode.  That process assured the family of having eggs through the dark days of winter.  Although we had electricity at the time, it was a new and iffy proposition,  and I doubt that it would have occurred to anyone to waste it on the chickens.

“Age,” people said.  “Your hens are probably too old to lay.”  But the oldest is only three.  And anyway, according to MyPetChicken.com:  “Chickens usually don’t simply “stop” laying eggs when they get to a certain age, but they will lay fewer as they get older. That said, most laying breeds will lay more or less productively in backyard terms for five or seven years. We know of one ancient buff orpington cross who still lays an egg occasionally at 17 years old!”

Water Glass Label, 1920

“Could be a dirty coop,” we read.  We cleaned it.  And cleaned it again.  “Could be diet,” we read.  So, we changed our brand of chicken feed.  It took a while, but we think that was the answer.  We hope the uptick in production continues, winter or no winter.  We were worried about those girls!  To say nothing of missing their delicious eggs!

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