My Hennies in November

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 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.


7 thoughts on “My Hennies in November”

  1. I like our Black Jersey for this same reason, “Their legs are dark, their eyes are dark brown, their black feathers so glossy and iradecently green in the light.” That, and she’s pretty friendly. The Buff is the friendliest though. πŸ™‚ We have one that I’d classify as “flighty”…the one that was supposed to be an Aurucana (I misspelled that again I’m sure…). She has a “wild bird” look to her and boy has she given me a run for my money a few times when she’s “escaped”! Ugh. I don’t want her “type” again no matter how pretty her (future) eggs are! :laugh: She’s not necessarily pretty pretty…nice looking enough…but personality-wise a big “thhhpttt” :laugh: ! LOL

    It was nice to hear a Henny report even if it wasn’t as “productive” as times passed. Surprisingly, I enjoy talking about chickens. Talking about them gives me new incentive to learn more too. πŸ™‚

    A good Tuesday to you! (And, I’ll respond to your emails soon…I hope. πŸ˜‰ )

  2. Tamara, I love “talking chickens” too. Just not much of it lately, and so glad I finally had something positive to write about in regards to my troop.

    Our green egg layer looks “wild” too, that’s why I named her “hawklady”. She’s not so flighty though, but that PROBABLY is due to two factors:

    1. Leghorns are so very flighty and we had 10 of them first, and comparisions are so weighted for the Leghorns …

    2. Hawklady was “eggbound” and spent some time with me in her early days of egg laying, in the kitchen sink … in the kitchen in a cage, and so I just love her. She recovered and I just love her! πŸ™‚

    So how old are yours now? And have they laid anything yet, do you expect any?

    I will be giving mine night lighting to get them up to having the minimum standard needed for egg laying all Autumn/Winter. I didn’t do that last Winter, and they didn’t lay over Winter. I saw that as a natural approach and what I wanted to do. Funny how one can change their mind due to circumstances. I sure have, since they too off all Summer, they surely will be supplemented with light to highly encourage production for the next few months!

    Thanks for the visit!

  3. Ours are just finishing turning 6 months. Not an egg in sight. πŸ™ Of course, their coop is half done…done just enough to house them and keep them from freezing. It’s not large enough to really get any “exercise” in and it’s drafty. Great plans to still finish it “soon”…but I’m not holding my breath. Almost makes me wish I knew how to run power tools…almost! πŸ˜‰ I have no idea when to expect them to lay but it won’t (unless some miracle) happen until Spring now most likely. Sometime in April at the earliest. Better chance in May. I was talking to a lady at church and she said another member family has birds (chickens, ducks) and have done so for a while (I don’t know how many years…) and that theirs usually stop laying through the winter. I don’t know what kind of set up they have as far as housing, lighting, etc. I’m going to try everything possible in the future though to keep eggs coming in the winter…

    Kind of bums me out because we have a big family gathering that we are planning to be at (Lord willing) and will be leaving around mid-June and will be gone a month (???). Just as peak production starts (?). Oh well. We’ll be leaving the hens at my parents house so if that doesn’t throw them off too much I’ll be happy to have my parents enjoying the fresh eggs. πŸ™‚

  4. Tamara, consider getting some light for them to give them about 15 hours of light. So like turn on light for them before dark, and turn it off when you go to bed.

    A little lightbulb or a string of christmas light in their area is all you need to do to give them the light they need to lay.

    That’s one hurdle to jump to see if they’ll lay. Many birds will not lay until 6 months or more. You might be able to get them to lay for awhile, then if they stop in the middle of winter, they’ll be ready for your late Spring again.

    Are you feeding them starter or laying feed? Scraps? Curious

  5. Yup, they have a light. It’s heating their coop. Went to layer feed…hmm…a month ago or so and all the scraps I can scrape up since they came home with us ;). I think it’s mostly just too cold and they don’t feel up to it. Last week, we had a Chinook come through but the week before it was -10F or a little lower sometimes. They are just trying to stay warm poor things. The coop just isn’t big enough for a “heater” per say…don’t want to start anything on fire. πŸ˜‰ And two lights would be overkill too. If dh can get around to changing things out there, there might be some hope. We’ll see…

  6. Hmm … one thought, you CAN easily make shelters for animals with hale or straw bales … to keep your chickies warm you could buy the cheapest bales you can find and stack them around as walls/insulation. There is info findable online about straw bale building, and it can be done minimally for the novice for small animals just by making walls that connect, like a dog house, or a shelter of any square or rectangular shape, and then putting plywood overtop as the roof, or metal roofing.

    I have heard of doing that easily for a dog house, and we are going to do that this winter for our dog, if we can find the bales cheap enough. It makes for a warmer shelter, even with an open doorway … at any rate, one could use their imagination on how to do something for chickies to keep them warm in cold alaska, with access in and out for humans, or birds.

    Bonus is that whatever you build, is un-installable, and if you want to use it for garden fodder, it’s great for that (to cover a garden, or over grass seed, till under, etc). Keeping the structure going, you only need to remove rotting bales if they get that way, not all usually go bad at once, so I’ve heard via reading somewhere.

    So then, if you could get a bale-like structure for your hennies they’d be much warmer. They don’t need to be super warm to lay, just close to freezing is fine, with over that fine, but too warm is worse than very cold, if you know what I mean.

    If you had a structure high enough for roosting off the ground, with the bale-insulation around, the warmth up on an installed roost would be better than being on the ground too.

    Just a few thoughts, as I’m going over this myself too, considering what to do with my non-laying hennies to get them closer to the house and into something for the Winter so that I’ll tend to WANT to go out and help them. They can usually do alright out on the ground in a pen in Georgia, but I’m planning for a wetter than normal Winter, and that means I don’t want to have to trudge out to do stuff for them, nor move them around. I’m thinking a nice bale-stable would be suitable and make for some nice fertilizer collectable in the Spring. So if they lay or don’t lay over the Winter, at least they’ll give me something, one way or another. And decent straw or hay to mulch my garden is another thing I’m wanting, which is what I’m wanting to do, a permaculture type garden. Well, really I do, but don’t. Yes, but not here. Hopeful to do it somewhere that’ll be a permanent thing for years to come. It takes a few years for it to take off at all, supposedly. Last thing I want to do is stay here for that long and get it going good, and have to leave it, and KNOW the next people here wouldn’t care one whit about it and put grass ontop or till it over, or put a pation on it, or whatever. KWIM? Hard work for the future isn’t so palatable when you know that no one else would hold your value to it, or any value, for that matter.


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