Readying Our Chickens for Egg Season
“To everything there is a season” as found in Ecclesiastes.
Happy Spring everyone! The season of Spring is so exciting on the farm…not only for seed starting but for our chickens as well. We are super excited to have our meat chickens ordered. We found a hatchery that offers non-GMO hatchlings! But, that’s not the big news. The season I’m pumped about is egg season.
Ya see, for a hen to lay an egg she needs 14 hours of daylight. You can get around this by adding a light to the coop, but I prefer to let things happen naturally. Shaun and the boys have been working on a new chicken tractor build. Our build was adapted from Jason’s at Cog Hill Farm. It will allow more light for the chickens during the long days of summer, mobility to fresh grass daily, and we will be able to add to our flock.
Our chickens will be pastured poultry. A system based on Joel Salatin’s, in which the chickens are moved everyday to fresh grass. However, our ladies will also have the opportunity to more space than the chicken tractor. The tractor will be inside a poultry net…added protection from predators and more grazing area.
Just like we take extra steps to ensure our garden soil is healthy, we are also preparing our hens to produce healthy eggs. This can be pricey if we were to buy organic commercial feed. Not to mention, I am having a difficult time finding feed that is free of soy and gluten. With all this said, I will be mixing our own feed. This is just for the protein portion which needs to be at least 17%. My hens will be feasting on oats, a flax/chia seed combo, peas, and sunflower seeds. They’ll also enjoy fresh grass, bugs, and our whole food table scraps. Part of our garden this year will be dedicated to growing a gluten free grain, peas and sunflowers for our chicken feed.
My recipe for healthy, happy chickens that will produce healthy eggs is:
- 14 hours of daylight
- food that supports their daily ratio of 16% protein+calcium+greens
- fresh air
Each hen should give about 4 eggs each week. With our extra eggs we’ll do some baking and stock our freezer with bread. Maybe, we’ll share some with our neighbors/church family and if the extras pile too high we can sell some too.
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Until next time, blessings to you.