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.
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.
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.
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.