Well, it’s finally happened. The chickens are coming back into lay, and on Saturday, we got an egg.
We’d had half a dozen eggs from the chickens when we first got them at the end of August last year. But they were already starting their moult, so after a week or so they’d all stopped laying. I rather optimistically hoped that once the moult was over they’d start again, but the shorter days and colder weather had shut down their laying for a while.
It’s all for the good, of course. A natural period of not laying eggs enables them to regain their vigour after the moult, and conserve their energy in the dark cold days. We’d not expected laying to start until February at least, but the mild weather and rapidly increasing day length have obviously had a beneficial effect.
The cockerel is mating with all three hens now, so the signs were propitious. And of course sooner or later there has to be a day when the first egg appears. So I’m a bit puzzled as to why I was quite so delighted by this one. A bit soppy, really, as the picture below shows.
What I was pleased about was that the first egg was well-formed, with a nice smooth shell, not too bad a shape, and a reasonable size.
55g qualifies as a medium egg. The rules of the game are:
Very large (XL) – >73g
Large (L) – 63g-73g
Medium (M) – 53g-63g
Small (S) – <53g
The hens are coming up to their second birthday, so they have had a full season of laying already. They're healthy, so there's no reason to suppose that their egg laying ability has been compromised. Still, it's nice to know that for one of them at least, everything's in order.
No egg on Sunday, but we're a bit more confident now that once they all start, we'll be able to collect enough eggs to do our first hatch, perhaps around the end of February. We've already moved them from standard layers pellets to breeders pellets, which are supposed to increase fertility.
I'll sign off with a couple more pictures of our little flock, out and about in their area under the trees.