Where Oh Where Have My Pretty Eggs Gone?

What’s up with these hens?  I’ve collected at least one egg every day for the past four years.

The first egg ever laid here at Happy Mama Acre. I was so proud!

The first egg ever laid here at Happy Mama Acre. I was so proud!

Now…nothing.  Not one single egg in the past three, almost four weeks.  I talk to the ladies, whisper sweet nothings into their ears.  I implore.  I cajole.  I beg.

No eggs. Not. One.

I miss the ugly ones...

I especially miss the weird ones…

I can barely remember this.

I can barely remember this.

This is not totally uncommon.  Hens don’t lay much when they are molting their feathers. The girls are mostly done and looking beautiful—except poor Molly Brown who started late—but I’m still finding feathers around, so it’s not totally over yet.

Another factor is hens lay fewer eggs in the shortened days of fall and winter.  Some people add light in the coop to artificially circumvent this natural occurrence.  I’m gonna let nature and the hens do their own thing.

And then there’s age.  The six girls from my first flock have been laying for four years.  I think only three of them were laying before this drop off in egg production started. “Henopause” happens.

I believe Sarah is finished laying. I will miss her beautiful blue/green egg.

I believe Sarah is finished laying. I will miss her beautiful blue/green egg.

Maude is a champion layer. She may still lay a few more.

Maude is a champion layer. She may still lay a few more.

But not a single egg?  From sixteen hens?  For weeks?  That’s just not right.  Six girls are only one year old.  I’m calling them the real slackers.  The two babies from this year haven’t started laying yet—but it’s about time…

I should see an egg from Marsha Marsha Marsha very soon...

I should see an egg from Marsha Marsha Marsha very soon…

Come on Pepper—you can do it!

Come on Pepper—you can do it!

For a while I thought they might be laying eggs in the straw on the floor of the shed and Doink was finding and eating them.  Since the hawk seems to make daily flights over the barnyard, the hens have all been inside much more than usual.  I take more trips out to the barnyard, poking around in all the dark corners to try and confirm my suspicions.  But no. Anyway, most of the ladies sing the “egg song” right after they’ve laid one.  And the barnyard has been very, very quiet.

It's an afternoon chicken party in the shed.

It’s an afternoon chicken party.

I miss those songs.  I miss the crazy arguments they have when two or three hens want the same nesting box at the same time.  What a fuss they make!

But mostly, mostly I miss those eggs.  I bought a carton of eggs from pasture-raised hens (you guys know the cage-free designation on eggs is only slightly better than the worst eggs you can buy, right?) so Very Excellent Husband Don will have them to make his fantastic Thanksgiving feast.  I can’t bring myself to eat them, though.

This was the last regular grocery store egg I ever bought and a double yolker from one of the girls.

This was the last regular grocery store egg I ever bought and a double yolker from one of the girls. What a difference!

As luck would have it, I went to the wonderful open house at Broken Shovels Farm yesterday and even though their egg count is way down too, I was able to score a beautiful dozen from her hens—eggs I have no problem eating with gusto.  So now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a hot mess of scrambled happiness.  And dream of collecting an egg in a nearby nesting box soon 🙂

beautiful eggs

**Shared at Homestead HopMaple Hill Hop and (mis)Adventures Monday**

Comments

  1. My are still laying. I am surprised that your not getting any eggs at all. In the winter I get much much few eggs but they have never stopped completely. Hope they start laying soon!
    Margaret Pereira recently posted…DIY Dollar Store Christmas Wreath

  2. A wonderful read, many of us are experiencing this!
    Worst molt/stopping laying season I’ve seen in years of having chickens!

    • I’ve heard more than a few people say the same thing, and wonder if the hens know something we don’t. My hay farmer says it’s gonna be a BAD winter.

    • I agree with Jonquiljunction – great read but even more of a worry ‘BAD’ winter wise is that this is the worst molt and very few eggs season I’ve seen in years too!

  3. I wonder what your ladies would think if you ‘primed the pump’ with an egg you put somewhere they’d see it- would they get the hint?
    : )

    • That might work for the new girls, but I’ve never seen them even close to a nesting box. I think patience is the only solution—something I’m usually short on 🙂

  4. Here too! We had no eggs for about a month. We also had the worst molting ever. Our friendliest chicken, Big White, died during her molt. We were devastated. We were chalking it up to one of two possible things. The first was that we got a puppy right around that time (the girls do NOT like him!), and the second was that I switched the feed from regular organic chicken feed to soy-free chicken feed. It says right on the bag that egg production will go down, so I thought it might be that. Just at the point when I was going to break down and buys eggs, our pullets started laying. Whew!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Joan. We thought we were the only ones going through this!

    • Sorry about Big White 🙁 Losing one is never easy. I just started new feed from my usual supplier with a higher protein count. I’m hoping that helps… Congrats on your pullets coming through for you!
      Joan Hobbs recently posted…Where Oh Where Have My Pretty Eggs Gone?

      • Keep us posted! My older girls look a lot like a few of yours – pale combs. Any idea what causes that? All I know is that when I see a pale comb, I’m not going to get any eggs from that chicken.

        P.S. I hope your hay farmer is wrong about the winter!

  5. Same here…went from 20+ to nothing in 1 day. That was about 2 months ago. Now we get maybe 1 or 2 a day…from 26 girls. Brats…they need to get finished molting.

  6. Debora Hotard says:

    My chickens did not stop completely but are only laying 1/4 the normal. Between the molting season and early cold snaps have really hurt egg production for us.

  7. Oh my! That would be distressing! Especially when you’ve been so spoiled all this time with their lovely fresh eggs! I’m feelin’ for ya! Hope they get to laying soon!
    daisy recently posted…The Maple Hill Hop 108

  8. Well that just plain sucks. 16 hens and no eggs! I dont have hens, but this was a good post to read for when I do get them. Especially noting how others are having the same issues. Maybe its a sign we are destined for a bad winter and the hens are conserving energy. Sounds crazy typing it but it seems too universal to be a fluke!

  9. We’ve had that issue before. Always during winter….
    Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop. I hope we see you again today! Sharing!
    Kelly recently posted…Homestead Blog Hop 59

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