Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Egg Production

Egg production is up at Red Bucket Farm--way up, in fact. Chickens vary seasonally in egg production. Much of it is based on hours of daylight. In fact, many chicken wranglers provide artificial lighting in the hen house during the darker winter months to encourage their girls to lay more eggs. We prefer to go with whatever natural light Mother Nature provides. The girls deserve a little break in the winter.

Another factor in reduced winter egg production is the natural inclination to molt. Mature hens will generally lose feathers in the late fall and early winter. They grow new feathers in preparation for the deep winter freeze, but it takes so much energy to molt that a hen may stop laying eggs for several weeks. Some chicken breeds molt more significantly than others.

During the course of the winter, our small flock produced a steady supply of about 20 eggs per week. Half of our girls molted and stopped laying eggs entirely. We had enough for our family, including holiday baking, but we didn't have much surplus.

In mid-February, our weekly egg count jumped from 20 eggs per week to 30 eggs, and then immediately up to 42 or 43 eggs per week. All the girls are back in production again and they seem happy. Our unseasonably warm spring weather has brought 80-degree daytime temperatures, which is causing me to worry that production may decrease because of the heat.

Meanwhile, the girls have regrown their flight feathers after the molt, which means that a couple of them have decided to repeatedly jump the fence. After chasing them around and returning them to the safety of the chicken yard several times, I finally marched out there with my kitchen shears and gave two of the mischief makers a little trim. So there.

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