Last year was tough. I seemed to spend more time with doctors than with chickens. So- the plan is to not have any accidents and stay healthy. I am sure that the chicks will appreciate the effort!
Many of you have noticed that my girls are not currently laying- that is to say I get maybe 2 eggs, maybe 8 eggs a day out of all those chickens. I am used to getting more than enough eggs during the winter to pay for their feed habit.
What is going on here? Not to worry, the girls don’t have some horrible problem. They are just getting older.
As your chickens age, egg production drops off dramatically. The first year is amazing. You get eggs almost every day- and they are huge!
Then the chickens molt- they lose many of their feathers, moan a lot and stop laying eggs until they grow the new feathers back in.
Now for the second season: They still lay eggs, but maybe 3 or 4 a week. The eggs are also quite a bit smaller. They still eat just as much food though, so the cost of keeping the birds has not gone down at all!
Time for another molt going into the 3rd year. You guessed it- fewer eggs than last year. Maybe one or two eggs a week if you are lucky. Now this is not a problem if your chickens are also pets- they will keep laying eggs for a number of years- just very few compared to the first couple of years.
How do we deal with this on the farm? Our strategy is to keep new chickens “in the wings” so to speak. That means that we must always have new chicks coming up to replace the older layers. The downside is that it takes 5-6 months for a chick to start laying eggs- and she is only cost effective for the first two years (Now you know why home pastured eggs are so expensive- it costs a lot to get the birds to laying age and the laying window is way too short)
Last year being what it was, we did not get our replacement chicks going until late fall. So we have beautiful black sex link chickens out back who look like they should be laying eggs- but won’t until the weather warms up.
So, we are asking you to have patience with us. Once this batch gets going, we can start on another batch. And soon it will be warm enough to start the meat chickens once again. Boy do I miss fresh chicken!
I will post an update when we start getting eggs again! Yeah!