Forget Where’s Waldo. Who’s laying is way more challenging. I have seven hens. They were purchased at a livestock auction on June 14th. One of the hens was laying, as she left an egg in the cage at the auction. I am positive that at least four of the ladies are gifting me with eggs. It could be more. The hens are of different breeds and they make a pretty little flock. Over the past 11 days they have given me a total of 13 eggs. Not bad when you consider the stress of being sold at auction, quarantine, and integration into a flock of pullets.
My new hens are laying beautiful colored eggs. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.
Eggs, glorious eggs
The seven hens are of different breeds. It appears that I have a Barred Rock, a Black Australorp, two that could be Rhode Island Reds or Red sex-linked or Production Reds, one Easter-Egger or Ameraucana, and the other two are most likely mixed breeds of some sort.
I am thrilled that they are laying this well. In the back of my mind, I reconciled the fact that these hens were at auction because their egg laying days were over. The Barred Rock is older, you can tell by her legs, but she is a gorgeous bird.
Egg color tells me that I have at least two different layers. I am getting eggs in shades of browns/pink and eggs in shades of blues/greens. All of the eggs are about the same size. When compared to commercial large white eggs, they are slightly smaller, but not by much. I’ll call them medium/large.
The pullets are only 10 weeks old. They are not laying so I can remove them from the “who is laying” equation. A little detective work leads me to the conclusion that at least four hens are laying. While checking to make sure the chooks were going to be safe and dry from an approaching storm, I noticed one of the hens going in and out of the nest box. She was very protective over it. At the time, the nest box was empty. I sat and watched her. It was raining, but I wanted to see if she would lay, so in the rain I sat. My efforts paid off. She rewarded me with a blue egg.
A similar situation happened a few days later. This time there was already an egg in the nest box. I noticed the Australorp exhibiting the same behavior as the hen who laid the blue egg for me. The brown egg was removed from the nest box and I continued to watch the Australorp. After an hour had passed, I decided to give up. As I started to walk away, the hen came out of the nest box and there was another egg. Happy dance time—for me and my hen. She struts around the run singing after she lays. Nice to know that she sings, it will alert me to check the nest box.
Today, I watched my little red and black hen sit in the nest box. Even when I offered treats to the others, she refused to leave. She emerged about 45 minutes later, leaving behind a medium tan egg. This is layer number three.
There is a fourth layer—my mystery hen. She lays medium tan eggs, but based on the fact that chickens have a cycle of at least 26 hours, it is unlikely that all of the tan eggs have come from either the red and black hen or the Australorp. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of when I find the eggs and their colors. Now that I have confirmed egg times for three of the hens, there has to be at least one more hen laying tan/brown eggs.
This confirms at least four layers. Three are laying brown eggs and one is laying a blue egg. I hope that continuing to observe my hen will lead me to figure out their laying cycles and finally determine who is laying and when.