Fifi is broody for the very first time. She just celebrated her first birthday. She has been in the nesting box for 3 days now and has plucked out all of her chest feathers. She is so adorable. She has not quite realized that other girls are laying warm eggs in the boxes next to her. My older, professional broody girls, Dolly, Feathers and Autumn, can roll fresh eggs from another box to their box, secretly stealing other’s eggs to make a clutch of their own. I just love it when she lets out a quiet low growl when I open the nesting box to check for eggs.
|A freshly eaten egg|
Egg Eating, a form of cannibalism, is a terrible habit that some chicken develop over time. It can start for numerous reasons including nutritional deficiencies, curiosity and boredom. Chickens are very smart and it does not take long for them to realize that not only do eggs taste good but they are a great source of protein. It is important when keeping a backyard flock that you are aware of this potential problem and take steps in your flock’s living area and life to help prevent this problem from ever beginning.
|From the brown egg on bottom clockwise: eggs from Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Dolly, Fifi and Feathers|
The big girls have resumed laying eggs. Over the past few months, I watched as the molting increased, the eggs slowly tapered off. Up until last week, I was discovering two eggs per day. Then all of a sudden, yesterday the girls presented me with five. The most amazing thing is that two of them were colored a deep dark brown. Tilly usually lays those. It is a new mystery who laid those sweet eggs I found together in the same box. In addition, the light brown ones have returned as well. These are the ones that take up my entire hand as I carry then into the house.
This past Sunday, I attended the Boston Poultry Expo. One of the cardinal rules during these shows is that you do not converse or interact with the judges. In fact, people are required to keep a certain distance from them. It is very easy to spot a judge. They don a lab coat or jacket with official badges and tagging. I enjoyed watching from a far as the judges selected their top picks. Later in the afternoon nearing the end of the show, I recognized one of the judges standing near me in street clothes. I decided to strike up a conversation.
He is from New York, grew up on a farm with poultry and has been involved in his local 4-H for years. He has been raising chickens his entire life and now his adult son is one of the best breeders in the country. His pride oozed as he told me his relationship with chickens. I listened closely, I could tell that I was going to learn something important. What he told me next amazed me. He told me that you can tell what sex of chicken will hatch out of an egg based upon the shape of it’s egg. According to him, eggs that have rounded tops will be females and the eggs that have pointy tops are the males. He further went on to tell me that a researcher from Cornell University did not believe him and tested his theory in the lab. On day 23, he received a phone call from the researcher, in shock that it was true! I knew of those eggs. Sometimes eggs are just too incredibly pointy not to take notice.
I came home and took some eggs out of the fridge. I had a bowl of mostly Silkie eggs, as the larger girls were still molting.
Yes, you can see a difference. Here is a pointy egg in the back and a rounded one in the front.
When I had heard what this judge was telling me at the show, I had to call my friend over to hear this too. This information was exciting and intriguing to say the least. After we finished our conversation with the judge, I told her that we had to try this experiment on our own. She owns two incubators. For her next hatch, she is going to put all pointy eggs in one and all rounded eggs in another. I, for one, will surely be counting down those 21 days to see what hatches from the eggs.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest
Halloween preparations took up most of the day along with a few errands. When I went to grab the kids a snack after school, I noticed that Tilly’s egg was shrouded by a dainty Silkie feather. It was as though it had its own Halloween costume. It was beautiful. So pretty, that I snapped this photo inside of the fridge.
benefits of eggs. World Egg Day was
first established in 1996 at the International Egg Commission’s conference in
Vienna. Eggs have played a huge role in
feeding families around the world and thus they were given their own day of celebration. They
are perfectly packaged by the chickens and affordable for many around the globe. They have fantastic health benefits and are full of protein and vitamins. They are a great source of choline for
developing brains and memory and have been proven to help prevent deteriorating eyesight due to macular degeneration.
World Egg Day!
can serve them at all meals of the day.
Yesterday, I went out to the coop. I could not wait to say hello to the girls. I missed them so. It was funny. At first, I do not think that they recognized me. I opened up the coop door and tossed scratch onto the run floor. No one seemed to care that I was home. I was sad. I figured we would get reacquinted when I cleaned the coop later. It was on my to do list. I opened the nesting box door. I did not find any chickens in the boxes. Yet, I discovered my worst nightmare. Someone had pecked open an egg and ate the entire contents!
Strewn on the shavings in the nesting box were pieces of egg shell, gooey strands of yolk and remnants of sticky egg white underneath one of the roosts. Sunshine, Oyster Cracker and Tilly came into the coop. Like addicts, they began to peck at anything that seemed like it had raw egg on it. They pecked at the shell. They pecked at the egg-soaked shavings. They pecked at the walls dotted with yolk. They had glazed over looks in their eyes. They could not get enough.
Horrified, I chased them out of the coop, scooped up the egg shell and decided that I needed to clean out the coop immediately; so much for those 6 loads of laundry that I had planned on washing. As quickly as I could move, I cleaned out the entire coop, disinfected the walls, floor and roosts. I also used an anti-icky spray to rid the coop of any egg smell. Surely if it worked on pet urine, it should work on raw egg! I refilled the coop with clean dry shavings and added nesting box blend to the boxes. Then, the test-I let the girls back inside.
Tilly, Oyster Cracker and Sunshine entered at once. Still recalling the egg, they searched frantically for signs of that ill fated egg. After a few minutes, they left disappointed. I determined that this behavior needed to be nipped in the bud. For me, it was this chicken owner’s worst nightmare come true. I was going to have to check on the girls every half hour or so for eggs. I needed to break this habit. Thank goodness, that huge laundry pile had me on house arrest.
A half-hour later, I went outside and found Dolly in one of the nesting boxes, still broody. This time though, she had a friend. It appears while we were away, Autumn has decided to join Dolly’s broody club. Just like Dolly, she has removed all feathers from her chest. For once, I thought that this was great timing. These two broody girls would be protective of any eggs laid. I should be able to use them to my advantage.
A couple of hours later, Tilly was in the nesting box on the left. I waited. The entire egg laying process takes about 15 minutes. Soon, I peeked in and saw Tilly standing. I opened the nesting box. Outside Tilly’s box were Sunshine and Oyster Cracker. Tilly’s egg was all the rage. Everyone was interested. Risking life and limb from a vicious peck, I grabbed the still wet with bloom freshly laid egg. Phew, I at least saved that one. And so the day went. I ended up with a total of 3 more eggs and not one was damaged.
This morning when I woke, I was anxious as anything to get out there early and rescue any eggs from the girls. There were no early eggs. I saw that as a good sign. Today, the chickens were not interested in the eggs. I kept them distracted with the chicken toy, the treat ball and lots of TLC. They laid 4 eggs again and none were disturbed. Overnight, in one fowl swoop, they seemed to have forgotten about pecking the eggs and suddenly remembered how much they loved and missed me. Today, after my week-long vacation their little brains remembered their chicken mama.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
Ouch! This beauty is from Oyster Cracker. She laid it this morning. It takes up my entire palm and two of my daughter’s hands. I can’t believe some of the eggs she has laid, but this today is by far the largest! I am so fascinated by the entire egg laying process. As the hens sleep in the night, the outer egg shell is being created. Hens that are disturbed or scared in the night can lay malformed eggs or even stop laying them at all. Full crops right before bed help too. My girls enjoy a little chicken scratch right before bed, sort of like milk and cookies for the kiddos, only instead of insuring that they will sleep through the night, I am hoping for nesting boxes with eggs in the morning.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest