Pets & Animals | 25 January 2017The Quick Guide to Collecting Chicken Eggs Share article facebook twitter google pinterest When people think about raising chickens, they usually have one thing on their minds: farm fresh eggs. Raising chickens for their eggs can seem intimidating at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. This quick guide to collecting chicken eggs will get you started, from what to expect to troubleshooting common problems. You’ll be enjoying a delicious egg breakfast in no time, thanks to this excerpt from Barnyard Kids: A Family Guide for Raising Animals. A small flock of hens can keep your family—and your friends’ families, too—well supplied with eggs. Source – Barnyard Kids by Dina Rudick First of all, a hen will lay eggs with or without a rooster around. Egg production in chickens is actually triggered by light. As long as they are exposed to about fourteen hours of bright light each day, mature chickens will lay one egg every twenty-?ve hours during their peak production. Sometimes chickens don’t lay very many eggs or stop laying altogether. Young chickens (under six months old or so) are not yet mature, so they won’t lay eggs yet. Certain breeds of chickens that are bred for meat production may be very poor layers. Egg production in all breeds will slow down in the winter when the days are shorter. About once a year or so, chickens go into molt, during which they lose and regrow many of their feathers. Because molting is physically taxing for the chicken, she will conserve energy and slow down her egg production to compensate. Don’t worry—this will pass and her egg production will rebound. Now if a hen stops laying eggs all of a sudden or keeps visiting her nesting box without ever laying an egg, keep a close eye on her—she may be egg-bound. That’s what happens when an egg actually gets stuck inside a hen. It can be caused by an unusually large egg or even a calcium de?ciency that interferes with the hen’s muscles. This condition is sometimes possible to treat by massaging your hen’s bottom gently in a special way and keeping her comfortable, hydrated, and relaxed. Other times, the egg will need to be squeezed out or even lanced, which means de?ated with a syringe. This is best done by a professional. Just be sure to act fast—an egg-bound hen can quickly exhaust herself and die. Hens will lay eggs anyplace they feel is safest, which can sometimes be inconvenient. Source – Barnyard Kids by Dina Rudick Where do hens lay eggs? Ideally, they lay them in a nesting box where you can ?nd them. But in reality, a hen will lay her eggs wherever she feels is the safest place for her and her potential brood. Your challenge will be to create a nesting box area that is more tempting than, say, under your porch or behind the feeder. The ideal nesting box should be open only on one side so she feels secure that no predators will sneak up behind her. It should be lined with something soft and clean that she can nest in—such as straw or wood shavings. There should be enough boxes—one box for every few hens should be more than enough. Some people get by with one box for ?ve hens, and that can work well, too. It depends on your budget and how much space you have. Chickens are indeterminate layers. That means that they’ll keep laying eggs until something tells them stop. Left on their own, once a hen sees that she’s laid a clutch of about a dozen eggs, something in her chicken brain says, “Oh! It’s time to sit on them and keep them warm!” Suddenly, your normally active hen may become broody, or motherly and territorial, and will sit on the eggs until they hatch. Now this is ?ne if you have a rooster around and you’re trying to raise chicks. If there’s no rooster around, then her eggs are unfertilized and will not become babies no matter how long she sits on them. So to keep your hens from becoming broody, you must remove eggs from the nesting boxes every day, especially if several hens share one box. For chickens, the urge to ?nd a nest is caused by hormones, or chemicals in the blood, and not by the feeling of a big egg pressing to get out. Sometimes the hormones wear off before the egg comes out, and the hen will wander off to play in the yard when, whammo!, the egg suddenly falls out onto the ground. If you see a surprise egg on the ground, pick it up, or a chicken may discover that eggs are tasty and start eating eggs. Egg eating is a very hard habit to break, and egg-eating chickens generally end up as dinner themselves. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Would you like to start your child on a journey of self-reliance and love of the outdoors? A sustainable source of ideas to help your children learn the ins and outs of animal husbandry, Barnyard Kids encourages children to get outside, enjoy nature, and reap the benefits of their hard work. This fun and creative book by Dina Rudick will guide your family through fun opportunities learning about keeping chickens, milking cows, and rearing sheeps. It’s time to get your little farmhands dirty. Help them grow to be fruitful, self-sufficient, happy, and healthy! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.