Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Great News! Our largest hen Sadie, laid her first egg on Monday!
We have been waiting and watching the girls, just wondering who is going to be the first to lay. Any information we've read states that the hens are ready for laying when they are between 17-20 weeks old, and when their combs are developed. Our three biggest hens, the Plymouth Barred Rocks, who are named Sadie, Neko and Lucy, were exactly 20 weeks old on Monday. Our three other hens, the Black Sex-Link (which is a cross between Rhode Island Red & Plymouth Barred Rock), named Pickles, Buttons, and Gypsy, are a week younger. It was no surprise to find out that Sadie laid the first egg, as she has been the most dominant of the brood from the start.
The first egg was not a "wind egg" (hollow inside) as we had anticipated, but in fact a solid, small sized brown speckled shell egg. The following day Sadie laid her second egg - however, both times not in the nest box. She actually laid her egg out in the open, near the gate of the chicken pen. This seems surprising as hens are said to like to lay their eggs in private. We've placed a white golf ball into the nest box, as this is meant to encourage egg laying in the nest, but we may have an independent hen on our hands! She was crowing loudly with a new sort of voice, almost like she was making an important announcement to the world, (or out of shock, surprise, or relief!) and there it was! We felt like proud parents :)
Two excellent resources we recommend for new urban/backyard chicken keepers are:
Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Space - by Barbara Kilarski. (this book provides instruction on building a coop, chicken history, and good breeds for backyards including lots of colour photographs!)
Backyard Poultry Naturally: A Complete Guide to Raising Chickens & Ducks Naturally - by Alanna Moore. (this book has an excellent section chicken behaviour, nutritional requirements, herbal remedies including homeopathics, and poultry & permaculture)