The hens are keeping warm in the barn this winter. I have some black sexlink hens and a few partridge rock hens, one black sexlink rooster. Naturally hens will stop laying when the days get shorter. This is an important time for them to rest, but after several weeks, I have lights on a timer that I start to come on in the mornings. Gradually I have the lights coming on earlier and earlier until the days are about 14 hrs and they return to laying again.
Ever wondered why some yolks are bright yellow? Beta Carotene and Xanthophyll are both natural plant pigments. When hens are able to eat green plant material, the beta carotene concentrates in the yolk making it dark, sometimes even orange. Since hens don’t have regular access to green plant material in the winter, yolks are often paler. Bright yolks are also a sign of a fresh egg. A pale yellow yolk and a watery white mean that the egg has been sitting on the store shelf for several weeks, or months.
Egg size is determined by the hens age and stature. A young small hen typically lays pee-wee or small sized eggs. But as she matures, her eggs are more frequently in the medium to large range. Jumbo sized eggs are usually layed by hens over a year old.
Egg shape is hereditary so hens from the same family will lay similarily shaped eggs. They can range from nearly round to long and thin.
Now that we caught that mink that killed half my flock, maybe we’ll start to get a few eggs again. I’m excited to be getting some new chicks in the spring! I can start browsing hatchery catalogues anytime!