Sunday, June 30, 2013

Laying their first egg

Its been a long time since I've shown off my soft feathered girls. My mix of Silver Laced Wynadottes, Light Sussex and Isa Brown chickens have been weathering this year's winter exceptionally well as well as settling in together and finding their pecking order.

While talk-back radio and magazines seem to be addressing so many frustrated backyard chicken owners over their lack of eggs during this winter, my girls have had other ideas.

Sally, my last Isa Brown and top chook of the pecking order, has decided to go straight back to laying after the death of her mate, Molly, and the introduction of new hens, and the arrival of the cold weather. She is my only reliable layer at the moment.

Its all the more impressive to know that she is close to being 3 years old, which is so uncharacteristic of the Isa Browns who are renowned for not laying beyond 2 years.

Then came the last Sunday in June.
I discovered a very tiny first lay egg.
Its a mystery as to who the lucky girls is, but my money is on Victoria the Silver Laced Wynadotte.

The secateurs is for size comparison. Isn't the egg tiny?
A tiny little peck was taken out of the end, obviously out of curiosity as to what had just popped out of her body.

First eggs usually are void of any yolk and very small.
It won't be very much longer and her subsequent eggs will start to become larger and yolk filled.

There were little signs, especially the day before.
I like to feed my girls a little live culture yoghurt a couple of times a week to keep their gut healthy and boost their calcium (I have been really hoping to encourage the laying). While I was hanging out the washing on the line the Wynadottes kept pecking at the empty yoghurt bowls in the garden. So I decided to give the girls a top up. And it really was only my Isa Brown and Wyandottes who were really interested. The Wynadottes stayed on until it was completely cleaned up.

The increased need for calcium in their diet is sure give away that something is soon about to happen as it helps form the strength and structure of the egg shells.

My Light Sussex are a replacement flock so they are a month or two younger than the Wynadottes. But I suspect that I may not get a single egg from them as I think I may have swapped roosters for roosters. More on that to come. Keeping a very close eye on their tails and habits.

Do I have another rooster?

Yolk Colour

I often get asked about how to improve yolk colour. Many people think that if their egg yolks are very pale that their hens must be sick, but that's a myth.

Yolks darkness is just colouring and nothing more. It can be altered through diet or a colouring added to their water supply. It will make no difference to the overall goodness of the egg.

Carotenoids are responsible for the colour of the yolk.

It is true that free-range hen eggs often have a more deeper orange yolk and are more nutritious as their diet is more varied and likely to include foods that encourage the colour.

All commercial egg farmers are expected to produce a national colour standard of egg yolk.
Different countries are attracted to different levels of yolk colour, and it directly affects sales. Yes, it really does! Take it from me, having grown up on a free-range chicken farm, we were given very specific egg production guide lines and a yolk colour chart to abide by.

So which foods help to create a deeper coloured egg yolk?

♦ Go for the orange vegetables (carotenoids) such as carrots, pumpkins, marigold flowers, corn, tomatoes and apricots.
♦ Greens are also contributors such as parsley, basil, cabbage, alfalfa (lucerne) and all other leafy greens.
♦ Paprika spice can also be added to their food.

Creating healthier eggs.

So now you know a little more about colourisation, I'm sure your goal is to get healthier eggs.

Boost Vitamin A.

Beta-carotene and Canthaxanthin (carotenoid) get converted into Vitamin A.
What does Vitamin A do? It prevents the oxidisation of vitamins in the eggs which produces a healthier, more nutritious egg for consumption.

Boost Vitamin B2.

The egg white contains Vitamin B2, but here's the quirky thing.
You probably think that a clear bright egg white is the optimum in nutrition, but in actual fact, the more yellowed the white is the higher the Vitamin B2 is in the egg.

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