Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Egg Mystery is Solved

The two dozen hens produced four eggs this week. That's usually not a cause for rejoicing. However, after five weeks of no eggs, I'm happy.

Never in the previous decade of winters have the chickens laid no eggs.

What happened?

Egg laying is regulated by light. While this winter has had its dreary moments, there have been worse winters.

The hens received less light because of a change of behavior.

We let our hens free-range. During the warmer months, when the grass is growing, they usually roam the pastures and come back to the hen house at night. After we built the sheep lean-to, they often found that a great place to hang out. There, they were out of the rain and safe from hawks.

However, this winter, they moved their "hanging out" place into the livestock barn, which, when closed up in the winter, is dark, dark, dark.

When this cold spell breaks, I'll change their behavior. I'll move half the flock to the other hen house and cut off access to the dark, dark barn.

For an unscientific explanation of what happened, check out Cheeps and Bleats.

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