Thursday, January 31, 2008

Answering a chicken question!

What on earth would I do on these cold winter days if not for my journal, and my ever-questioning readers?  Here's the question asked in comment:

Ok then where do all the eggs come from in winter?  

Your eggs come from commercial operations where the hens are each kept separately in tiny cages for their entire egg-laying life... which consists of less than one year.   These hens never get to scratch in the dirt  or take dust baths, or any of the things chickens enjoy.  They eat, lay an egg almost every day, and poop.  Nice life, eh?

If you hatch chicks in spring so that they're old enough to begin laying eggs in the fall, somewhere around September or October, they will lay throughout that first winter.  In my experience, they will never again lay in wintertime after that one time.  Which is why the commercial egg-factories get rid of their hens before the second winter and replace them with a new batch. 

Now I've had homesteaders tell me that if you keep a light in the hen-house and feed the chickens certain kinds of foods, etc., older hens will lay through winter.  That never worked for me, but more power to those who can get it done.

You'll find those retired hens in your Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, or in other canned foods that use chicken products.  Because retired laying hens are too tough and skinny to be used for fryers or baking.

Now playing: - 08 The Night I Learned How Not To Pray
via FoxyTunes   


magran42 said...'s what would we do without you to answer questions and generally enlighten us?  I'm thankful for your time and willingness to research things if you don't have first hand knowledge.  It helps me a lot.

madcobug said...

Here's something else. The poulty company when the hens quit laying will take food and water away from the layers and turn off the lights for a certain number of days and that puts them into a moult. Then they put the food, water and lights back to them and they have another laying season but not as good as the first one. I used to grow the layers from babies until the laying stage then the company would remove the pullets and put them in laying houses. Helen

breakaway1968 said...

Aww that really makes me sad!  I never knew that they were just kept in cages and the retired so early.  That makes me never want to buy another egg from the store!~  Maybe we should look into farm fresh eggs from now on.

randlprysock said...

WOW I had no idea about this.  We had a chicken on the farm when I was a little girl and she laid brown eggs.  My grandfather used to bring the eggs to my mom each morning and he was so proud of that chicken.  Hugs,

helmswondermom said...

My mother used to raise chickens, and this sounds about right.  We had eggs in winter because she always hatched a batch of new chicks in the Spring (or bought them right after they hatched, actually).  She would keep some for winter laying hens.

msecz said...

but now you can buy eggs from uncaged chickens... at least that is what it says on the carton of eggs I get

nerves05 said...

I have about 30 chickens. They usally lay in the spring and fall like crazy. They just started laying again about a week ago. But i have noticed that if i buy laying mesh and feed them that all year that they will lay a little all year long. But not like they do in the spring and fall. But usally i just feed the mesh to them in the spring and fall. The rest of time it's just scratch. We get tons of eggs. I usally keep my mom and some neighbors with eggs for a while.
I love my chickens. My kitchen is decorated in chickens to.
I wonder if where you live has anything to do with how they lay? Like the climate affecting there laying patterns?

Interesting. huh?

Take care  :-)

fowfies said...

Thats exactly right, and the video of these poor hens is gut wrenching. The disease and filth is disgusting. I noticed that Sandra said now you can get cage free. That does not mean anything. Cage free means instead of being in a cage, they roam in a chicken house, still cooped, still living in their own filth, never going outside in the sun and grass. Free range cannot even be trusted, as free range can be considered walking around in a packed out chicken house indoors with the filth and never going outdoors. The rules are vague at best.

suzypwr said...

Every day I get closer to being a vegetarian....what a horrid life the animals we grow for food have to endure!


ksquester said...

Oh, this has taught me always to wash my eggs before cracking them.  Anne

mutualaide said...

Oh, the reality of food producing animal's lives just sucks.