Seasons of Eggs
There are many variables that determine what the eggs in the carton you buy from us will look like throughout the year. The age of the hens, length of daylight, available forage and insects, temperature and supplemental feed all play a part in what the hens produce. We do not attempt to mask the seasonality and diversity of our flock- we embrace it! We invite you to enjoy the changing seasons with our flock.
Spring- Rain and warmer weather signal the growth of tender grasses and legumes as well as insects. The pasture grows quickly this time of year and the hens consume large amounts of grass which contains xanthophylls, a naturally occurring pigment that causes the yolk color to intensify during late spring. With the increased daylight hours the hens produce more eggs this time of year than at any other.
Summer- Grass growth is slower than in the spring but by rotating the hens to fresh pasture there is always plenty of grass to eat. Insects are abundant this time of year and supply the hens with an excellent source of protein. They seem to especially love grasshoppers that can be found in late summer. The summer heat can be stressful for the hens, so we provide plenty of shade and intentionally rotate them along the edge of a deep woods where the temperatures are cooler. By midsummer the egg yolk color is not quite as rich as it was even a few months earlier. We gather eggs several times a day to get them cooled soon after being laid.
Fall- During this time of year there are many interesting things for hens to eat- mature seed heads, the last of the insect population, fallen leaves, as well as a flush of tender grasses and legumes, encouraged by fall rains. As the amount of daylight decreases this signals the hens to begin slowing their production.
Winter- By early December we transition the hens into a large hoophouse filled with deep bedding where they remain until temperatures are consistently above freezing in the spring. The hoophouse is covered in clear plastic, which captures the heat from the sun, allowing the hens to stay warm and while providing them with a bright space to over-winter. This captured heat also keeps their drinking water as well as their eggs from freezing. A light heats the hoophouse in the early morning and also signals the beginning of the day. We provide them with hay for them to scratch through and eat. They also enjoy making and rolling in dust baths.
Laying Cycle- A young hen, also called a pullet, will begin laying eggs when she is around five months of age. When a hen first begins to lay, the eggs are very small and are commonly referred to as pullet eggs. Within a few weeks she begins to lay extremely large eggs- many of them containing two yolks. By seven months of age the hen begins laying normal sized eggs. During her first year of laying a hen will produce an average of 20 dozen eggs. At around eighteen months of age a hen will begin to molt. She will renew her plumage over a period of several months. During molt she will lay fewer eggs or stop laying all together. After a hen molts she lays larger eggs, but fewer than before molting.
Thanks for enjoying the changing seasons with our flock!