Farm life definitely makes one aware of bodily functions, for better and for worse.
Today’s topic: incontinent chickens who are laying from the roost, not in the nest boxes.
The three Golden Comets — Annie, Emma, and White Tail — are hybrids. They’ve been bred to lay almost every single day. They went into chicken puberty early and have been doing this.* [*Except White Tail during a two-month period, after the Great Hawk Attack of 2015, followed by early molting.]
One of the birds often lays from the roost either in the middle of the night or very, very early in the morning. Chickens have bad eyesight so once they are up on the roost for the night, they stay put. They do get up early and put themselves in the nest boxes to lay. But sometimes the egg comes too quickly.
Now and again, we’ve had them lay from the roost. Of course, the egg falls on the hay (and poop) on the floor. Sometimes it cracks, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we can eat it anyway, sometimes it’s too far gone. Fortunately, for a long period of time we were able to recover something like 75% of the eggs. Not too bad.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, one of the Golden Comets has been laying almost every single night from the roost. And the egg hasn’t been recoverable. Given that we have just three hens laying regularly, plus Ella and Beaker have been laying every other day, losing one egg is a pain.
Moreover, this Comet has been consistently inconvenient about laying. Once they get on their little laying cycles, eggs come every 24 hours. On the roost or not. It would be nice to get her to re-cycle a few hours forward so she would start laying later in the morning. But we have no way, of course, to control this.
We have really appreciated having a more regular egg supply this winter, despite White Tail’s “incident.” But we are also realizing what little monsters the Golden Comets are. They lay eggs come heck or high water, whether it’s at midnight or 6am. They have short “egg labors.” They pop the little eggs out. Not a lot of sitting around and waiting in boxes.
Thus, if one of them needs to lay an egg from the roost, the egg is laid. And recently we’ve lost 1/3 of our egg supply.