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When (and where) will my chickens lay their first eggs?

little blue eggOne day this week while collecting eggs I met with a glorious find—a beautiful blue egg, albeit a surprisingly small one in comparison to the large Delaware & Welsummer eggs I usually collect. At long last, the new birds from our mid-April shipment have begun to produce. The blue egg was from an Ameracauna, but where I found it was unexpected, if not surprising.

We keep our older birds separate from the new batch; in their own smaller hen house (a converted rabbit hutch) in a separate pen from where the new recruits stay. We only have 3 older birds, and 12 new ones. What was unexpected was that the new Ameracuana went all the way in back, into the separate pen compartment and up into the hutch where the 3 older birds stay to lay her first egg.

In retrospect I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the older and younger birds are pastured together, but they usually don’t mix much, and I’ve never seen any of the new birds go into the hutch before. How would this one know to go in there to lay her first egg instead of doing it in one of the nest boxes in her own house?

As it stands I’d planned on putting out some wooden eggs in the new birds’ house, just hadn’t expected to need to do it so soon. She’s a little early by my count. Although 21 weeks is in the 20-24 week window, we’ve always found ours to start just a little later, and Eggzy has helped us capture data to track our average days to point-of-lay (POL). I’ve been told pastured birds take longer than conventionally raised birds, and of course it also depends on breed and climate. Our Ameracauna’s are usually among the first, but this is the earliest we’ve seen.

In any case, I’ve since placed the wooden eggs, but thus far she’s ignoring them and continuing to use the older birds’ hutch. Unfortunately it’s looking like this might be a tough habit to break. I only hope the rest of the birds will pay more attention to the wooden eggs so I don’t end up with 15 birds laying in the single nest box in the hutch.

Any reprogramming advice would be greatly appreciated—please let us know by posting a comment.

* This post was originally published on August 31, 2011.

Personal Food Production

Check out the diagram below from a report entitled, Tiers of the Food System: A New Way of Thinking About Local and Regional Food. Some very smart researchers over at the UW Madison Center For Integrated Agricultural Systems generated the report, which outlines the framework of our modern American food system.

The report depicts our food system as concentric circles of food production and consumption, with the vast majority of supply being produced at a distant outer ring, far removed from most Americans’ immediate circle of reference and influence.

Tiers of the Food System UW Madison Center For Integrated Agricultural Systems

From farmers’ markets to supermarkets, there is a spectrum of relationships between consumers and those that grow, process, distribute and market food. The burgeoning local food trend has caused many people to seek food from—and personal contact with—local farmers as a way to connect with the food they eat.

But it’s the bullseye  of the Personal Production of Food, aka (Tier 0), that acknowledges the growing number of people who grow, hunt or process at least some of their own food that I want to point out. This tier includes backyard and community gardens, home food preservation, and subsistence farming, hunting, gathering, fishing and backyard chickens!

Tier 0, the bullseye,  is the tier we’re trying to facilitate and empower here at Eggzy.

 

City Chickens Campaign Against Hunger

Last week, Eggzy was a proud participant in one of Just Food’s City Chicken Projects. Mark joined Greg and Justin from Just Food and a team from NYC’s City Chicken Meetup Group to build an urban chicken coop in the backyard garden of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn.

Just Food is a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible throughout the Greater New York City area.

The City Chicken Project works with local chicken keepers to create model projects from which residents can learn how to keep happy, healthy, and productive chickens in an urban environment.

Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency food and other social services to residents in central Brooklyn. They plan to distribute the eggs from their City Chicken Project to many of the 9,000+ Brooklyn residents who receive groceries through the pantry each month.

Finishing the roof and front door

 Photos by Mark Thompson

Recipe No. 12: Poached Eggs

Poaching eggs is one of the easiest and healthiest ways of preparing eggs, as you don’t need butter or oil to cook with. And poached eggs make great additions to everything from salads and steamed vegetables, to breakfast, soups or simply served with toast and a little salt and pepper.

When poaching eggs, it’s best to start with farm fresh eggs; in fact, the fresher the egg the better it will poach because its albumen (aka white) is thicker. According to WikiHow, “an egg straight from the chicken will poach without any need for vinegar as it will coagulate immediately.”

Of course there are varying opinions and our methods for how to best poach an egg, I found this WikiHow tutorial to be the most comprehensive and filled with great photos.

Also consider using milk, broth, tomato juice, wine, or even a pot of simmering soup as an alternative for poaching water, as eggs can absorb the color and flavor from other liquids used. Listed below are several classic recipes that use poached eggs in them, fell free to send us a note if you have any other suggestions.

Eggs in Purgatory Image source; http://www.macheesmo.com

Recipes:
Classic Eggs Benedict from pioneerwoman.com
Poached Eggs on Toasted Baguette with Goat Cheese and Black-Pepper Vinaigrette from allthatsplatters.blogspot.com
Simply Recipes’ Salad Lyonnaise (Poached egg and bacon salad)
Tomato soup with poached eggs, aka Eggs in Purgatory over at www.macheesmo.com
Fried Potatoes with Poached Eggs served up at the Cooking Channel