04 February 2012

Of Roosters and Eggs

Since getting chickens I've heard stories about roosters and hens.  Some people think hens are more productive egg layers if there is a rooster around - they also think they keep the hens "in line".  I read somewhere that a rooster's crow stimulates a hen's hormones and makes her more productive.  Recently I heard all of this again, when my uncle called me, on behalf of a friend who was looking for a rooster for his flock.  I've decided to compare out flock with our neighbor's roosterless flock to illustrate the different factors affecting egg production.  It's very unscientific, but worth a shot.

We now have eight hens of laying age and are getting 6+ eggs every day.  Ours are less than a year old, so they haven't yet reached their prime.  Before the last four began laying, we had two very good layers - an egg each every day - and two less than perfect layers - at least one egg per day combined.  Since the Rhode Island Reds are brown egg layers, it's easy to tell which ones are theirs.  There have been no more than five days that we have not gotten two eggs from the two hens since they started laying in early November.  Our other hens are bantams, and white so it's hard to tell the difference between their eggs, but they definitely don't lay a regular as the RIRs.

At one point our neighbors' flock of five hens were probably laying close to four eggs a day, but recently they are only getting two per day.  One factor could be age - some of their hens are two+ years old.  Apparently that's when egg production starts to decline.  When we were discussing the difference recently, their suggestion was that ours were getting more sunlight during some of the shortest days of the year.  Egg production is supposed to decrease during the winter because of the shorter days, but we didn't see that in our flock.  Our hen house has a green fiberglass roof which lets light in - that combined with the neighbor's flood light could mean they are getting more light.  After our neighbor's light was out for two weeks and they replaced the bulb, it seemed brighter than before.  Our chickens noticed a difference too - the roosters began crowing throughout the night.

Whether it's their age, or the extra light, or the roosters, we really won't know everything that factors in to egg production, but I thought it was a good thing to try to figure out.

Look what I won!

Recently I began following a couple of chicken blogs that Robin read about in Country Living magazine.  One of them, Tilly's Nest, had a giveaway for a colorful aluminum sign from Baimbridge Farm Goods - you received one entry for commenting on the post, another for liking them on Facebook, and so on.  You could get up to five entries for this drawing.  I did all of those things, because the signs are really neat - I thought we could decorate the chicken coop with them.  Unfortunately, I didn't win.

Another blog I follow, Hen Blog, had a drawing for a print by someone on Etsy - Automatte - I thought her work was nice and thought I would try winning this one.  The entry requirements was similar - you got multiple chances for commenting, liking them, etc.  I wasn't sure I felt like doing all of that for this contest.  It appeared I had to friend them on Facebook and some other things I didn't want to do - a little more that the other drawing.  I entered once by commenting on the post, and I told myself I might do the other things later.  I forgot to do it, and I remembered seeing a post about a winner, but it wasn't me.  It turned out to be the other chicken blog, so when I got an email today telling me I had won, I was really surprised.  So I should be getting a print in the mail next week!

03 February 2012

January Rainfall

0.25 inches on January 10th/11th
0.30 inches on January 17th/18th
0.30 inches on January 21st

0.85 inches total for the month of January

The last half of January was really humid.  I would walk outside in the morning and it would look like it had rained, but it hadn't.  There was just so much dew.