After finally finding Local Hens™ egg cartons (see Finding Egg Cartons) to help promote our egg sales, I took advantage of their offer to create a farm page for Bramblestone Farm. It was free, easy to use, and for a short time – we’re the “Featured Farmer” at Local Hens.
The Local Hens website promotes small farms, homesteads, and backyard chicken keepers trying to bring fresh and wholesome eggs to consumers. Local Hens products offer small-scale producers (like us) professional grade packaging, and provide resources like the Local Hens website to help farmers and consumers connect.
The small farm and local foods movement [...]
Continue reading We’re the “Featured Farmer” on Local Hens!
We recently had the opportunity to visit Italy (part pleasure, part business); but wouldn’t have been able to go without the help of friends – who did a great job farm sitting while we were gone. When we just had cats and chickens, it wasn’t so much work; but now that we have goats too, it’s a morning and evening commitment of significant time every day. With everyone’s’ busy schedule, that can be hard to do, but we sure appreciate the help. This magnificent glass horse in Venice was the closest thing to livestock we saw the entire vacation.
If you’re interested in getting farm animals, [...]
Continue reading Farm Sitters
In the last post (see Finding Egg Cartons), I identified that Ohio law requires that eggs be packaged in new (not used) egg cartons if they are going to be sold off-farm. I said this because when attending the class “Farmers Markets, Cottage Foods, & Food Processing Establishments ” last year, an ODA (Ohio Department of Agriculture) representative identified that re-using cartons was not allowed because of possible contamination from salmonella, etc. However, the idea that re-used cartons are not permitted in Ohio (for small farms with less than 500 layers) generated a lot of controversy – it seems that many small [...]
Continue reading Egg Cartons – “New” Not Required in Ohio
We sell our excess eggs (and they go as fast as the girls can make them), but to comply with Ohio law, the cartons must identify the size and grade of egg, the farm name and address, and the date the eggs were packed. I thought that finding reasonably priced cartons for our eggs that met these criteria would be easy – boy was I wrong!
First of all, our girls produce mostly Jumbo eggs, but they’re not all Jumbos and we don’t grade them. Ohio allows you to sell ungraded eggs of mixed sizes as long as you don’t specify that they’re of a particular grade and specify [...]
Continue reading Finding Egg Cartons
As I talk with chicken keeping friends, I’m surprised that some don’t know that most chickens will cease to lay eggs when day lengths fall below 14 hours in the fall. As we move further into fall and shorter days, chickens will naturally reduce egg production. They lay eggs based on day length; long days and increasing day length mean spring to a chicken – time when they should be producing many eggs and raising chicks. The declining day length and harsher environment in fall and winter aren’t optimal for raising chicks; so chickens will naturally stop egg production, molt, renew their egg laying resources, and [...]
Continue reading Maintain Winter Egg Production – Add Artificial Light
Even though we’ve had chickens for a while now, it’s still a thrill to find that first egg. On Monday, I found this little egg in a nest box; so our latest batch of Golden Buff pullets has started laying. We got them as day-old birds (there’s a story on that here) on Thursday, May 10th; so it was 16 weeks and 4 days for the first girl to lay an egg. The egg is tiny, but that’s ok – we know they’ll get bigger with time.
The combs and wattles of chickens turn red (from hormones) when they start laying, so it’s possible to distinguish who’s [...]
Continue reading First Pullet Egg!
In the last post (see Molting Chickens), I said that you could tell how long a chicken has been molting and how long it would continue to molt by looking at the primary (flight) feathers. But, I didn’t go on to explain how from there – as several have pointed out.
I’ll try to explain further with the help of the illustrations below (no comments on my attempt to illustrate a chicken wing!). The first illustration shows the 10 primaries (in yellow) of a chickens fully feathered wing prior to molting. For the explanations below, keep in mind that a bird drops [...]
Continue reading Fast or Slow Molting Chickens?
Fall is the time of year when chickens molt and ours are doing just that; so egg production is way down and it’s a good time to make decisions on which chickens (if any) should be culled.
Molting is a natural occurrence for chickens triggered by shortening day length in fall. It can take from 2 to 6 months for a chicken to complete molting; and egg production generally stops during molting for pure breed birds or significantly slows down for egg
production breeds. This egg production slowdown occurs because it takes the same nutrients to grow feathers that it does to
Continue reading Molting Chickens
Well, a hen’s reproductive system consists of an ovary and an oviduct. The ovary contains undeveloped egg yolks (the number of yolks (or ovum) that are contained here are the total number of eggs the chicken will lay in her life) that are released into the oviduct as each yolk develops, usually about an hour after the previous egg was laid. However, in young pullets and some heavy breed hens, two yolks are sometimes released within a couple of hours, and these become double-yolked eggs.
Heredity can cause some hens or breeds to have a higher propensity for double yolks; but [...]
Continue reading What Causes Double Yolks?
In the US today, we’re being offered more and more choices in food quality; and it’s because many of us are demanding locally grown foods that are antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide free. In terms of eggs quality, it’s not clear sometimes what the choices mean – here’s a rundown on the different types of eggs:
Commercial or “Factory Farmed” Eggs
These are the standard grocery store eggs; and unfortunately, the “farms” that produce these eggs are typically poultry houses where the hens are housed indoors in tiny metal cages. They’re routinely debeaked (part of their beaks are cut [...]
Continue reading Choices in Egg Quality
The more I learn about chickens, the more I think they are truly remarkable creatures. Just before laying an egg, the hen adds a protective layer called “bloom” or cuticle to the outside of the egg. This coating seals the shell pores, prevents bacteria from getting inside the shell, and reduces moisture loss from the egg – all designed to make the egg last longer.
Unfortunately, because of conditions at some large egg operations, commercial eggs are washed right after collection to make them appear clean and presentable. Of course, this destroys the protective egg bloom. To try replacing natural bloom, [...]
Continue reading Egg “Bloom”
One of the Red Comet pullets laid her first egg, so we can’t be far from having good eggs again. It’s amazing how a few chickens change your perception of grocery store eggs. They don’t taste right, they’re watery, and they look anemic too. The eggs from backyard chickens are sooo much better.
The combs and wattles on all of the pullets are starting to turn red, but we think it was this girl’s egg because she’s redder than her sisters. If these chicks were six weeks old when they arrived, then the first egg appeared at a little over seventeen weeks. It was a little sooner than expected, so we’re quickly switching over to layer [...]
Continue reading First Egg!
Wrinkled Egg – IB Symptom
Back when I wrote about introducing new chickens into a flock (see Introducing New Chickens), I missed one important step, and we’re learning a painful lesson as a result. It wasn’t enough to ask if the new chickens were vaccinated, we should have kept them separate from our flock for 30 days to make sure they couldn’t introduce disease.
Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
As it turns out, Bab and Will brought Infectious Bronchitis into our flock, and it’s destroyed the Golden Buffs ability to produce eggs (it does not affect humans). Infectious bronchitis is a virus, it’s the [...]
Continue reading Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens