Sunday, 30 September 2012

Clean eggs

I have often put photographs of my daily collection of food from the garden,  and I regularly include a couple of eggs.  I get two eggs each day from my four hens.  A friend asked why these eggs don't have poo and feathers attached (like the organic eggs that one can buy) but look remarkably clean.  These are the two "dirtiest" ones I could find...
 ... and this is where I found them.....
 There is a plastic egg in there as well, hence the three "eggs" in the home made nest.

This nest is in a corner of the chicken house and behind a bale of pea straw that the chickens have to make nests from.

In fact,  they have quite luxurious nest boxes....
 .... and they still prefer to lay their eggs in a corner of the yard more often than not.

The whole chook yard is quite palatial....
 ... the previous owner of my house had pigeons and peacocks and this was the enclosure for those birds.  It is fox-proof, with netting across the whole roof, though that is a whole other story.  A fox did get in through the top once and killed ten of my chickens.  I have four left.
The black one is the one that was so badly injured by the fox that I didn't even expect her to survive now lays one egg each day and the white (light sussex) hen also lays an egg.  The other two (which are  strange bantam cross hens) are quite old... at least 8 years or so... and neither lays eggs any more.  I don't kill old non-laying hens as they don't eat much and still produce fertiliser.

Hens dn't sleep in nests.  They roost at night, and most of their poo lands under the roosting spot.  These hens have plenty of places to roost and in fact, some of them go to their won spots each night... others change places every so often.   Here are some of their options....


 Their yard is quite large.  The door at the end is a feed store....
 ...and food is stored in a 44 gallon drum that is mouse and rat proof.....
The organic eggs that one buys may well be from chickens that are fairly confined so that they are roosting near to their nests.  My chickens go out into the yard when it suits me, but even if they are kept in for the day,  they have a lot of space to roam.  Their eggs are laid out of the way and nowhere near most of the poo.
This makes it easier to collect a shovel full of chicken poo when it is needed to make fertiliser or to add to compost of garden bed.
I do plan to increase my chicken population again soon,  but I need to wait until one of these chickens goes broody.  The last lot of chickens (in 2010) were half and half roosters and hens, so I'll probably get a dozen fertile eggs from  my usual supplier and see how they go.  Then the big decision will be whether to keep one rooster or not.... and there is a whole other set of issues.

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