Hens provide fresh eggs for our Sisters and guests and the rest are donated to help feed our neighbors. Between 2018-2022, we had 11 hens that produced 744 eggs! We were able to donate 364 dozen to local food pantries and soup kitchens.
Did you know?
Chickens instinctively roost in high places when sleeping to stay safe from predators. They can also survive at temperatures below zero by fluffing their feathers, raising one leg up their body, creating heat through digestion and standing close together with other chickens.
We put heaters and lights in our coops to keep them warm and encourage them to lay eggs over the winter.
What is brooding? Why do hens do it?
Broodiness is the natural behavior in which hens stop laying and sit on eggs to incubate them. While hens don’t need a rooster present to lay eggs, they do need a rooster to fertilize their eggs (but having a rooster doesn’t increase egg production either).
- Laying hens will brood a clutch of eggs (sometimes even imaginary eggs) to attempt to hatch chicks, sitting in one place, consuming less water and food, and raising their body temperature
- Hens will brood even a pile of unfertile eggs and even if there isn’t a rooster present
- Broodiness is triggered by hormones, daylight, and the availability of eggs
- Once brooding starts, it takes 21 days for eggs to hatch
- A hen will brood indefinitely until she hears the peep of chicks, therefore, it is important to break the brood cycle if the eggs don’t hatch, or the hen is sitting on unfertile eggs
- When incubating eggs, they need to turned at least 5 times per day, and ideally once per hour, to prevent the yolk from sticking to the inner shell membrane. Hens do this naturally
- A rooster naturally creates a group of hens known as a harem (typically up to 10 hens)
- He will protect them from predators, such as a hawk in the sky, by making a call to hide
- Roosters have an internal clock that helps them to anticipate the sunrise and begin crowing
Hens are egg-cellent creatures
- Hens will lay about two eggs every three days. Most hens will lay eggs for 3-4 years.
- Egg production, size and shell strength will decrease with each year
- Hens prefer laying in nest boxes where they feel like they have a safe and secure location for their eggs
- Once laid, eggs will last about three weeks if never refrigerated, or three months if refrigerated
- Once refrigerated, eggs need to stay refrigerated so that they don’t sweat and and create an environment for bacteria to grow
Why do chickens scratch?
Chickens have the urge to scratch as a way to:
- Forage – chickens eat plants, seeds and insects
- Socialize – chickens will only scratch when they feel comfortable with the other chickens around
- Take dust baths – dust on chickens feathers create an inhabitable environment for mites and parasites
- Build a nest – hens have an instinct to build nests outside and sit in them even when they have nest boxes in a coop