January 8, 2017

Winter eggs

Winter eggs are different from summer eggs in so many ways. The first and most noticeable thing is that the chickens lay fewer eggs.  Certain breeds lay more consistently than others. If you look at the picture above you'll notice there aren't many blue/green eggs. We are finding our brown egg layers (Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and Welsummers) to be a lot more consistent layers than the Easter Eggers, who give the colorful eggs. Though our overall numbers are down, the green eggs are way down. That's why, if you buy our eggs, you might notice less or even no green eggs in your box lately.  

When chickens were wild, undomesticated animals, they only laid eggs in the warmer months because that's when it would be safest to raise young. Domesticated breeds have been bread to lay year-round, though some have taken up this quality more so than others. To help keep egg production more consistent, we do supplement the light in the coop a little so the birds have about 14 hours of "daylight" which fools their bodies into thinking it's not the dead of winter. That can only help so much though if it's -4 degrees outside. At that point, much of the calories the birds are eating simply goes to keeping them warm and egg production drops significantly. 

Now, another difference comes in the birds' feed.  In the spring, summer and fall, the birds spend most of their day out on pasture grazing grass, bugs and sometimes small creatures like frogs and lizards. In winter, they have access to the same pasture but choose to spend much more time indoors, especially when there is snow on the ground. And when they do go outside, there is less for them to eat as naturally happens in winter. So the majority of what the birds eat is their feed.  We use a non-GMO 15% layer feed from Bagdad Roller Mills in Bagdad, KY.  

This allows you to see the real difference that foraging makes in the birds' eggs. When they eat a wider variety of foods, found in the yard, their yolks are richer and their shells are stronger. The color of both shell and yolk is darker. If you look at the picture above, you'll see that the brown eggs are a pale brown. All of this is the natural cycle of egg production.  Winter eggs are just different from summer eggs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment