Eggsactly the time to reduce laying eggs

It starts to happen every year around this time of the year.

I don’t know why I act so surprised when it happens. I mean, it’s like Christmas (or tax day). It’s the same time of the year and I know it’s coming, so I’m frustrated with myself when I suddenly realize it’s happening.

What is this mystery event I write about?

Of course, I’m talking about the sudden lack of eggs in the chicken coop. Hens, finishing their fall molt, decide it’s time to take a break and just sit back, continue to eat and not produce eggs. It’s what comes naturally to them, but to me, it’s one of the most frustrating parts of the year.

During the spring and summer seasons, I emerge from the coop each day with well more than two dozen eggs. People request eggs and purchase them at the farmers market, and I don’t have a problem with meeting the demand.

Then when the sudden lack of eggs happens, I still have customers asking for the shelled orbs, and I have to explain that my hens have decided to take a break and it may be a few days to a week before I have enough to meet their order.

In this modern day and age, where we’re used to getting things immediately, that can be quite a shock to a customer who is used to getting a dozen eggs in a day and the next week, needing to wait four days to get the same amount.

Oh, there are tricks with lighting and various other ways to encourage hens to lay well into the darker months of fall and winter, but I never have been a big pusher of forcing things. If the hens want to take a break, then I’ll let them do so. After all, unless I had thousands of birds, we all know I’ll never get rich selling eggs.

All this said, it’s still a shock to even myself when I go down to the coop with my large egg basket and return to the house with the bottom barely covered and needing to add another customer’s name to the waiting list. I’m not for certain, but I think I can hear the hens laughing at me softly as I fill their feeder and refresh their water. They have me trained.

It’s only 24 weeks or so until the basket will be overflowing with eggs again. I just have to have the patience to wait.

Until next time …

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected]