Before I met Benson, I might have been on the verge of becoming a crazy cat lady. I only had one cat … but that’s a slippery slope to be on. He’s doing his best now to keep me from becoming a crazy chicken lady. My favorite chickens are the ones with the feathery poofs on top of their heads. I had one for a short while (that’s a whole different story). Benson’s more practical, though. He prefers production over beauty. And being that we’re trying to run a business here, I understand his point. So, we compromise. I can’t have the fancy chickens – so I settle for chickens that lay colored eggs. It makes me happy to hand over a box of our eggs at the farmers market and get a smile when someone sees white, brown and blue eggs in the box. And it’s a great conversation starter.
So, today, I thought I’d share some fun facts about chickens (and eggs)…
Do You Need a Rooster to Get Eggs?
No. A hen will lay eggs without a rooster.
When does a chicken start laying eggs?
Typically, it takes about 6 months for a juvenile hen (called a pullet) to start laying eggs.
How many eggs will a chicken lay in a week?
That depends on the breed…and the time of year…and the condition of the hen…
It takes a hen 26 hours to produce an egg. So, the most you can get is really about 6 a week. We select breeds that lay between 4 and 6 eggs a week. In the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, egg production typically goes down. Younger hens (1 to 2 years old) will generally produce more eggs than older hens (3 years and older).
What makes eggs different colors?
I wrote about this last year on the blog – it was a lot of fun to research. Definitely check out the long answer, but in short – hens release a pigment (called porphyrin) that influences the color of the shell. Different breeds of chicken release different pigments. On our farm, we keep Leghorns, which lay white eggs, Rhode Island Reds, which lay brown eggs, and Americanas (Easter Eggers), which lay a blue-green egg.
Is there any difference between a brown or a white egg?
No. The color of the egg shell makes no difference in terms of the actual egg itself. They all are basically the same inside. What has a greater influence on the egg is the actual health/condition/diet of the hen herself. Chickens that are healthy with access to pasture will tend to produce eggs that have a more intensely colored yolk.
Why do your eggs have such a bright colored yolk?
Our chickens spend a lot of time outdoors eating grass, bugs and whatever else they find. It’s their diet, rich in carotenoids, that produces the bright orange yolks.
What does free range mean?
On our farm it means free range – they go wherever they want, including on our back deck to eat out of the dog bowl. I’ve even caught a chicken in the house after I left the back door open. But there isn’t a standard definition for what free range means. My advice is to try and buy your eggs from a local farmers market or farm stand and ask what it means to that supplier.