We’ve only been raising Rhode Island Red hens for the past four years. In that time we’ve harvested close to ten thousand eggs. Some eggs are perfect in shape, size and look. Smooth brown shells, no blemishes, no extra calcium, no spots. Just beautiful looking eggs if I say so myself. We’ve learned that as a hen gets older the eggs she lays gets bigger.
Flock three has been laying almost five months now. Out of the twenty-five hens in flock three we get anywhere between eighteen and twenty-four a day. The eggs weigh out between twenty-seven and thirty-one ounces a dozen, which is extra large and jumbo respectively. It seems that they are laying bigger eggs sooner then the other two flocks but that is more observation then quantitative analysis.
We’ve had a hard winter this year with upwards of sixty some inches of snow and did suffer the loss of one of our oldest hens, Gladys. We called her Gladys Kravits for Bewitch’s neighbor. She was always in every body's business and starting trouble. When a new hen was introduced it was Gladys that tried to enforce the pecking order. But, she had her special side.
We have a customer that has a child with autism, one day when they were here I asked if David wanted to walk over to the pen to see the chickens. Once there I asked his dad if he wanted me to pick one up so David could see it closer. I got to the pen and Gladys was near by. I picked her up and walked over to David and his dad. I asked if he would like to touch her. His father said he wouldn’t but it was a nice gesture on my part.
He then asked David if he would like to touch Gladys. I was holding her a safe distance from them. Much to his dad’s surprise, David stuck out his little hand and I brought Gladys in closer. He touched her head with his finger. She put her head down some and he touched her again. She would let you pick her up and pet her without squawking or making a fuss. Much to his parents surprise Gladys was the first animal that their son touched and actually petted. Each week when they came back I made a point to take father and son to wherever Gladys was. Once in the pen I’d pick her up and David would pet her. I was just amazed at her, each time she would do this and never did David get scared. She will be missed.
With all this snow, we had to shovel around the houses so the hens could get out. They can get cabin fever too. We laid down pine shavings so they’d have traction and some protection for their feet. We put heat lamps inside the houses so they get some warmth at night and that seems to have helped tremendously. They get let out of the houses everyday and closed back up at night. A lot of times they will not come out unless the sun is out, their no dummies. Flock three, on the other hand, is in a converted horse trailer and no matter the weather they come out, it must be youth.
So out of ten thousand eggs we’ve seen some anomalies; like extra swirls on the shell, knots, spots, soft white in color, no shell at all, odd shapes like ovals and points on both ends, different shades of brown you name it, we’ve seen it. Sticking your hand into the nest is always an adventure when collecting eggs. Sometimes you get a soft surprise others are just to gross to describe. Just recently I was collecting eggs when I felt a large egg. It was dark out so I couldn't really see the size of the egg but by its heft and girth it had to be the mother of all eggs. That egg was huge. I mean off the charts huge. The amount of space it took up in the palm of my hand was incredible. I ended up cutting a hole in the box to close the lid of the egg carton. We took it on the road showing anybody interested and eventually sold it to a long time customer. We took a picture of the egg with eleven other jumbo eggs (below).
We can't take any credit other than providing them with a stress free, healthy environment. They do the rest and I'll let the picture speak for itself.
Buy Local - From a farmer you know and trust, not a chain profiting off the concept.In case you are wondering it was a double yolk.