My hens have been molting for a long time, last eggs we had from them were in August, but not many. The babies, as I call our youngest, still Pullets really, the Australorps, started laying in June, and never really “got into it”. I have no idea why they ALL stopped laying mid-summer. I mean ALL of them stopped. The White Leghorns have been molting this whole time, losing lots of feathers, white feathers everywhere in their pen these last months. πŸ™„

The Wyandottes (incl. the green-egg–laying-lookish-like-GLW), all four, are most recently molting more, with Hawklady looking mostly full-feathered out this week, the first to look so, and Pointsettia has no tail right now, Puffy is looking closer to full-feathered out, and Trinity is still working on it.

Today is chilly, in the low 60’s for highs, don’t know what it was like earlier, but I was looking at the big pen of hens, the Leghorns and Wyandottes are together there, and Puffy was all puffed out, which is how she got her name finally last year. When it’s cool, she puffs out so cartoony looking. The other hens puff out sometimes too, but not as often as she, nor as fully as she. It’s hilarious really.

The good news though is that the Australorps have started laying again, just over a week ago was the first egg, with a day off the next day, then an egg every day, with yesterday off (the cycle was morning to evening in that week) and TWO eggs this morning.

Which means: Two hens are laying as of today.

One hen previous to today was responsible for all the other eggs.

Hens lay one egg a day, about every 25 hours. So the cycle goes about one hour later every day until one day when the egg laying would be later in the day, the hen will hold the egg until morning, and lay it bright and early..

Not all breeds lay an egg so often as “every day” utilitarians like the Leghorns have been bred to do so. The W’s are fairly good when in laying mode, most days, they lay. The Australorps were new layers though in June, so never “perfected their pattern”. Their molt was a mini-molt, just a few lost feathers, just no egg laying.

So all in all, it’s been a bad Summer/Autumn with having to use store-bought eggs and keep feeding the hens. But I determined that since they did this, I’ll make sure and TRY to keep them laying through the Winter.

As that does go, I hope it will go well, and that come Spring they’ll still be laying and still go, or stop and whatever the case is, when the Leghorns stop laying, then it’s “Off with their heads”. The W’s I’ll keep, and the Australorps I’ll keep. I hope I can get some new Australorps or W’s come Spring, or maybe some Autumn hatchers pretty soon if it is possible (they’d be ready to start laying come March or so … whereas Spring hatchers don’t start until June or July usually.) I’m also interesting in geting a laying breed that is different, like the ones called Little Red Hen with White … oops forgot their name, but anyway they have white undies and are red on top. Different breeders have their own specialty. I’m wanting something pretty and useful and nice and NOT flighty like the Leghorns.

I love the Australorps. They are huge compared to the Wyandottes and GIANTS compared to the Leghorns. Their legs are dark, their eyes are dark brown, their black feathers so glossy and iradecently green in the light. The W’s and L’s on the other hand, have lighter eyes and yellow legs. The darkness of the Australorps is just so striking. I look forward to having a nice piece of land where I can see them out on the grass free-ranging during the day. Sigh.

I’m hoping I can keep the Green Layer around until that day of more land, and get a couple of roosters to try out some funky lineage. I really like colorful eggs, brown, green and the other colors that are possible. They are “more marketable” as well.

On that front, we have found a source for Organic non-soy laying feed, and will get that going soon, so our hens eggs will be considered “organic” not “certified” though since we aren’t “Certified” but all the same, it’s the same product since we don’t use any chemicals at all in our yard. My main reason for it is wanting it as FRESH feed as possible and NO SOY. I don’t like soy due to many hormonal thing and want my animals to be soy-free as well. See www.westonaprice.org for some SOY info.

My Australorps that are laying, the first one lays pretty lightish brown eggs, shinyish. The second one lays brown with a white overlay, more rough, dull.

I’m watching my others for signs of laying. So far, just the two, but it looks like the other 2 A’s will start soon.

The W’s and L’s all have pale wattles and combs. πŸ™ It can change overnight though.

Another sign of laying is how compliant they are towards you when you put your hand on their backs. If they crouch down, it’s the same as they’d do for a rooster, meaning they are willing. That means egg laying!

My first egg last week came the day after I found that one A was complying with hand on her back. I predicted it and it happened the next day.

πŸ™‚