Tales from the backyard flock: Are they cooked or do they have chicks in them?
For the last week, maybe two, we have had significantly fewer eggs each day from our six laying hens. Initially I thought that the hens that were not laying had nutritional imbalances since they’ve been eating chicks starter food (against our wishes). We’ve recently integrated our baby chicks to our adult flock, our Rhode Island Reds much prefer eating chick starter it seems. Chick starter has a high protein content and adult birds shouldn’t be eating it but I’m not standing out there and shooing the hens away from the chick feed, three times a day, right now… so those stinking hens are gorging themselves.
Also, my new chicks are integrating to the main flock right now and we are preparing to move in just a few days so our chicken coop situation is in transition. I also figured the stress of the transition was possibly impacting the egg output from the hens.
Today there was quite a squawk fest out of the chicken coop and my girls anxiously ran out to collect the eggs. However, there were no eggs to be found. So we went about our garden and backyard chores. I opened the compost bin to get some fresh compost for one of the plants and I left it open for the chickens to scratch around in since were getting ready to move and we have no intention of taking cooking compost with us. I had the compost bin open earlier in the week for the same reason but husbands who work outside the homestead (he has just 3 work days left!) miss lots of strategic decision making and close the compost bin back up thinking they are being helpful.
Anyway, after a while we went back inside had some cold water ate breakfast and we heard the chickens squawking again. We went out to try to collect eggs and once again there were none to be found.
They always say if you’re missing eggs, go on an egg hunt.
All week we’ve been hunting around the yard in strange corners, under bushes and behind various things to see if we could find any hidden eggs, we found nothing. After the recent squawk fest we noticed the Rhode Island Red hanging out at the base of the open composter. Just out of curiosity I bent down and peeked my head in the composter…
I found two Rhode Island Reds and one of my Americauna hens sitting on what seems to be a pretty large clutch of eggs inside the composter, on top of the compost.
Now, assuming the eggs have been there for a while….
1. Are they cooked?
Compost bins are HOT, deathly hot. The hens laying in there were panting up a storm. I put a bowl of water in there for them because they didn’t seem interested in budging. The temperature read shows the air inside the compost bin at 85 degrees and the soil temperature is the same since it’s pretty dried out.
2. Are the hens broody and sensing they should be hatching these eggs?
Remember my 4 new roosters? They have been seen this week jumping then hens (as in sexing them up). Now I think their immediate success in mating is probably unlikely but on the off chance that they are successful and these hens are broody… should we let nature take its course and see if we get baby chicks?
Based upon the heat of the composter these eggs probably aren’t going to be edible, so if they are fertile I guess it’s less waste right? But we are moving in just a few days… Wont the move disrupt a broody hen’s hatching process, especially for a first time brooder?
What do you think?