Our First Egg

Our chickens laid an egg this morning. If they were 16 weeks on the day we bought them (23 March) they are 20 weeks now (or will be tomorrow – unlikely all were born on the same Friday 20 weeks ago though, isn’t it?). One, at least, read the fact sheet purporting that laying commences between week 20 & 22.

Isa Brown Egg

We went to let the chooks out of their coop at about 6:45. Rosie was up and about but Isabel and Bronwyn were still upstairs. That’s the first time that’s happened. But it’s been bucketing rain for the past couple of days and we figured they wanted a lie-in. That said, the two laggards jumped right down when we arrived.

When we checked their nest box it looked like only one had slept in the nest straw and two had roosted over night. That’s a great improvement. Maybe the third will catch on to how it’s done. Or maybe the 2 avoided the straw because everything (including them) was damp. Their coop is water proof but with 97% humidity, the straw might not feel so cozy.

At 8:30 we went back down with a handful of clover to give the girls a treat. As I always do, I checked their nest box and this time…. ta dum…. an egg.

Isa Brown egg plus decoy

They laid an egg!

I realise I should be saying “she” laid an egg as only one of them actually did the deed, but I see them as an egg-producing-unit. (Much in the same way human couples these days say “we’re pregnant” when we all know it’s really the woman that’s preggers.) I figure the whole flock should share in this momentous event.

Okay, I know this is a pretty small egg (the “big” egg in the photo is the decoy egg) but their first eggs generally are – and often have some sort of a weak or deformed shell (or so I’ve read). This egg is a perfect 38 grams.

The straw that we put in their nest box to make a soft spot to lay has been pushed up deeply around the edges creating this perfectly hard laying spot. I fear our layer doesn’t get the whole “soft” bed concept.

No way of telling who the layer was but I’m pretty sure we can rule out Rosie. Her comb just isn’t developed as much as the other two. And she was up and about bright and early – could the laggards have been so slow to rise as part of a laying-in period?

My money’s on Bronwyn as being the first layer. Not only does she have a nice comb these days, she also started squawking about half-an-hour after we took the egg. Frank said “that’s the laying sound”. His grandmother had hens and he said they would squawk like that after laying. It’s the first time any of our hens have made such a sound.

After our big find, the girls seemed pretty nonplussed and carried on as normal. I suppose if you’re an Isa Brown, bred to lay an egg a day, an egg isn’t a big deal.

Rosie and Isabel doing chickeny stuff

Lunch menu: one poached free-range, organic, farm-fresh egg. And other stuff but who cares about the other stuff.

Here’s the recipe for Laura’s Egg Delight (serves 2):

  • Bring a small pot of water just to the boil (maybe not quite boiling).
  • Take one egg from under a chicken.
  • Crack egg into boiling water.
  • Watch in awe for 4 minutes.
  • Remove egg from water.
  • Divide into 2 even halves.
  • Serve, eat, enjoy, pat yourselves on the back.

As for the taste – obviously it’s the best egg I’ve ever eaten. But it tastes exactly like the “control” egg. No difference in taste or texture. I cooked and ate without salt just to be sure I wasn’t affecting the taste. As Frank said, what did I expect? Well, I guess I wanted it to taste amazing.

Being overly scientific, Frank and I did actually do a control test. We poached not only our 38 gram egg, we also poached a 54 gram store-bought “control” egg.

“Our” egg doesn’t have the red stamp on it – it’s got chook poo instead.

“Our” egg is cooking on the right.

“Our” egg is on the right – yumm!

Besides the aforementioned similarities between taste and texture, we did find a striking difference between the eggs. The store-bought egg spread out dramatically in the water (we didn’t create a vortex, add vinegar or use any of those controlling techniques). The hen-fresh egg held in a firm clump. My guess this is more to do with freshness than anything else and I suppose it will be a long time before we eat an egg produced by our chickens that’s old enough to spread – but I’ll keep this in the back of my mind. If I’ve ever got some eggs more than a month old, I might try plunking them in hot water and see what happens to the whites.

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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13 Responses to Our First Egg

  1. Anon says:

    As it was to all intents and purposes “thrust” upon me – how can I not comment on this amazing accomplishment. Um – well – I can’t think of anything to say….um – congratulations Laura (and Frank) congratulations Bronny (if it WAS you) – and if it wasn’t – congrats to whover else was the one who did the deed.
    How’s that?

    • Very nice comment. I will pass on your congrats to all the girls (I’m trying not to show favouritism). They’re walking around all seeming very pleased with the world. Do you think they would be if they knew I just ate their first egg? I will stop that train of thought in its tracks – that way lies insanity.

      • Anon (again) says:

        Have you considered the fact that you have just consumed your first grandchild? What would the new mother think if she only knew!

  2. Anon (again) says:

    The potentiality of your first grandchild maybe?

  3. gsrittenhouse says:

    Congratulations on getting your first egg.

  4. I would have been right along with you expecting something totally out of the ordinary tasting. When I pick something out of the garden I always think it tastes extra special – and I am sure your first egg was very yummy. So exciting.

    • I always think things from the garden taste extra special but deep down I rarely believe myself. With fruit I notice a huge difference but lettuce or carrots? Not so much. And eggs – nope. *sigh* But I know it’s better for me and it’s there on hand and it reduces my carbon foot print and I love actually growing what I eat and … There are a dozen reasons to keep my back garden productive so I don’t rely on extraordinary tastes (thank goodness) to keep me motivated.

  5. Cassandra says:

    Congratulations on your first egg!! We are still waiting on tenterhooks for ours, the girls are 23 to 25 weeks old, but they are Light Sussex crosses are much slower to mature. Go the little Isa’s!

    • From what I hear, most hens lay about the same number of eggs over their life, they just spread that laying differently. Isas are rock stars of the chicken world. You know, “It’s better to burn out than fade away”. They lay early and furiously then, apparently, stop at 2-3 years of age. I may be rolling in eggs now but I’ll be caring for my girls in their geriatric years with no pay back. No pay back except plain old fondness. I already like the silly things, after 2 years I’m sure I’ll adore them. Which is the real reason I chose this breed, I was led to believe that Isa Browns are one of the most sociable of chickens around and I’m all for socialising with my girls.

      I’m sure you and your Light Sussexes are going to have a long and fruitful relationship – if a bit slower to start.

  6. karensperspective says:

    My thoughts were exactly those of Africanaussie. I always expect the extraordinary from my garden, and have never been disappointed. I would expect the same from my very own chickens. Ah, well, I guess convenience would be enough.
    And, I must add, my lettuce and carrots are far superior to store bought. Perhaps our store bought are not as fresh as what you get down under. When the heat comes and the lettuce is gone, I can’t bring myself to eat store bought for weeks….

    • Karen, I think you’re right that lettuce from my garden is better than from a shop – I’m probably being too mean. (That said, I’m not convinced about carrots but maybe that’s because they spend forever in the ground so my expectations are extra high). I definitely don’t think my tomatoes were very good last year and I’m considering not raising them at all this year. The store-bought tomatoes are pretty tasty (some varieties) and you don’t have to battle fruit-fly, leaf mould, possums, birds… to get them.

      Honestly, chickens are easier to care for than tomato plants.

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