A week ago yesterday, March 3, I found the first lovely brown egg in the nest boxes. Celebration!
Okay, so it was only one, but that was one more than I’ve gotten any day so far, and what a promise of things to come.
Every day brought one or two more eggs so that by Saturday afternoon, I had gathered 11 eggs over the course of the week. The pockets on my jacket had been functioning superbly for carrying the nutrition nuggets back to the house and protecting them while I worked around the coop, but I was suspicious and hopeful that those handy pockets would soon not be sufficient.
Sunday was the start of a new week, and a new record…
Four nest boxes for 16 hens.
One had been cleared out with no more hay in it, nor any eggs, just empty, bare, devoid of anything more useful than dust.
A second still had a nice supply of hay, and one or more hens had hollowed out a nice nest in the hay, but no eggs.
The third nest box had two eggs in it, which I had been coming to see as “normal” even as I hoped for more.
When I checked the fourth nest box, my eyes nearly popped out of my head! Most of the hay was gone, but there sat four lovely brown eggs looking up at me. One of them was even still warm!
Six eggs in one day! I was ecstatic. Happily, I had taken an egg carton to the coop the day before – one of those 18-holers – just in case.
Later yesterday, I got to thinking about how many eggs to expect every day – after my sweetheart asked if the chickens might ever lay two eggs in the same day. I explained to him that, according to the chicken books I’ve read, it takes approximately 26 hours for an egg to make the trip through a hen’s laying tract. Therefore, the potential for one hen laying two eggs in the same day is pretty much non-existent.
That math also seems to indicate that with 16 hens I’ll probably see an average of about eight eggs a day. With a 26 hour turn-around time, I’m sure there will be days when there will be more, and other days when there will be less, but on average, I think I’ll probably end up with about 4 ½ dozen eggs a week.
Then again, nature being what it is, I’ve gotten two breeds of chickens that are known for becoming broody and being excellent mothers. Knowing MY luck, I’ll probably end up with all 16 hens going broody at pretty much the same time, fighting over the four nest boxes, and giving me NO eggs while they each try to hatch a clutch of 7-9 eggs, to be followed about a month later by over 100 adorable little chicks running around in my garden.
Now wouldn’t that be a trip!