The Egg Strike Is Over – We Have Eggs! March 8, 2016

Eggs, oh the wonders of eggs! Egg souffle, homemade puddings, baked goods, and the simple joy of my egg basket overflowing with the stunning variety of color laid by my sweet feathered ladies. I hate the annual chicken egg strike.

many different chicken egg colors

So many colors!

But like all ladies, the hens need a break sometimes, much to my woe-is-me. It’s a cry that is echoed around the world by all chicken owners when the annual chicken egg strike hits.

It comes in winter… that time of year when, no matter what you do to compensate, you find yourself with fewer eggs and, in some cases, no eggs… yes, the dreaded egg strike. After a summer filled with nearly pulling out your hair trying to find uses for all of your eggs, suddenly, almost overnight, your hens just stop producing and you have to do the unthinkable… You go to the store and you buy eggs.

compare yolks

… and the yolks are pale and tasteless compared to eggs from your own hens. Look at the difference!

The winter in the south-east has been pretty mild, but even so the short days means my ladies go to bed early. I am not particularly fond of adding a light in winter to keep production going although many do so.  I tend to approach my hens with the thought that they need a break and will be healthier for it in the following months. I’ve never personally seen any harm by having a light added–not when you add light to your coop the right way! It just makes me happy, I guess, to see them have a well-deserved break after faithfully laying most of the year. In any case, we make sure the coop has ample light as soon as the sun rises and until it sets, so as soon as the days get longer the hens begin to reward my patience.

Captain Munch, my sons pet Easter Egger, was the first to start laying regularly again. She is an “old hat” at this and loves her job. I can hear her while I milk the goats; she lays her egg and then boasts proudly to the whole world that she laid the best, most beautiful egg ever created. It’s good that she’s so boastful about it, since she’s also a professional at hiding the eggs. Her boasting helps me find the nest!

Within a couple of weeks our erratic egg numbers jumped, literally overnight, from 1-4 to 7-9 a day! I am having the most fun looking at the range in egg colors this year with our pretty Silver Cuckoo Marans and their dark, almost orange-tinted eggs, to the rose colored one with white speckles (I have no idea who is laying that, we shouldn’t have rose with speckles!).I also get delicate shades of brown from the Buff Brahmas and the Cochins.

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Is it weird to just sit and look at your egg basket for 30 minutes?

And then we have Munch’s eggs, an especially delightful find after the end of the winter egg strike. I know Easter Eggers are not supposed to have shell color changes, but she must be special. Normally the eggs of all hens will fade gradually over the season, but her changes are more sporadic, and so much fun! Ranging from a pastel blue to a deep, sage green, her eggs bring me the most joy as I wonder what tint I will find. They stand out from all of our brown eggs and are always the favorite of our guests and children.

Winter egg strike is over--boy with pretty colored eggs

These egg colors always bring a smile!

So, as I write and look at my counters covered in overflowing baskets of eggs, and all I can think is “Wow, the egg strike is over; what am I going to do with all these eggs?!”

What is your favorite way to use extra eggs? Do you sell them? Do you give them away? Or do you find ways to store the eggs for the next slow season? We would love to hear if your hen’s egg strike is over and how you plan for the next one!

6 Comments
Jane James March 9th, 2016

I have a 2 day bantam I hatched, and it seems now she has imprinted on my husband. All she does is chirp and chirp until my husband holds her and she stops or coos. I hold her and she shakes and tries to get out of my hand. Is this what is called imprinting?
Right now she is under his beard chirping away. So cute

Lissa March 11th, 2016

Yes, she has probably imprinted on him–how adorable! But keep in mind that just because she has imprinted on him, that doesn’t mean she can’t learn you’re safe and affectionate, too. You may just have to make a little more effort than he will. Do check to make sure that she is plenty warm in her brooder, though. At 2 days old, she needs to have access to 95 degree brooder temperatures (dropping by five degrees or so each week until she is fully feathered and has acclimated to ambient temperatures in your area). Chicks will chirp and chirp if they’re cold, too. It could be that your husband has warmer hands–and he most certainly has a warmer beard than you do!

Rare Breed Poultry March 28th, 2016

Great blog, I love to make Chinese style tea eggs, they look like dragon eggs and the children can;t get enough of them XX

Amy March 29th, 2016

Beautiful! We have been getting a good amount of eggs for a few weeks now and have some new layers. Finally have our rainbow of colors!!

Mike Bell April 1st, 2016

‘Concerning pecking, you said, “Make sure they have plenty of good, high protein layer feed–NOT scratch. (Scratch is too low protein; a diet high in scratch/corn is likely to cause picking.)” I give mine more than they need (or want) because when they’ve all have had their fill, the finches and doves swoop in and clean it up. They get fed twice a day early morning and early evening and I always throw a cup or 2 of scratch in too. Mostly they eat the wheat out of the scratch and then move to the layer feed. So is this okay as there generally isn’t too much pecking, (no bald spots any way)?’

Lissa April 1st, 2016

Mike, we generally recommend feeding your chickens free choice. This is because of the way a chicken’s digestive system works. They can only eat as much at once as their crops will hold (see the illustration at that link). So ideally, they should be able to fill their crops with high-protein feed anytime they need it, and then forage for grasses and so forth (natural supplements!) during the day. Another reason you probably don’t want to feed in a way that attracts finches and doves to eat leftovers is because wild birds can bring in illnesses. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be an apocalyptic disease! But even if they bring in mites or lice, that is problematic (and severe infestations can actually be fatal). We have to be honest that it’s probably not the ideal way to feed your flock for a couple reasons. Luckily, you are not experiencing pecking at this time, so that’s great! If you plan to continue feeding this way, please take special care to watch for signs of illness or pecking.

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