It was a couple days after we got our first small egg from the new girls. As I was gardening outside I heard one of the girls making her first attempt at the egg song. A not so good attempt, but it still stopped me in the tracks wondering if we got another first egg!
It’s hard to sneak up on these girls. Being so new to the world they are always on edge. When I heard the squawking I tried to sneak up to the window to see what was going on but of course they heard me.and stopped singing.
Curious if we got any new eggs I went inside the coop and took a look around. There was one hen on the edge of the nesting boxes and a bunch of the others staring at her. Must be the singer!
I opened up the nesting box tray and the only eggs inside were the fake training eggs they knock out . Oh well…..
Here it is a few days later and we have 4 more eggs! But they are so small all 4 fit in my one hand! At least now we have enough to cook! I cracked the first one open and out pops 2 yolks! We got a double yolker here! It’s not unusual for this to happen. I’m just crossing my fingers the eggs get bigger quick so we can start selling eggs again!
Funny story…… I was in the middle of writing this post about training the girls how to use the nesting boxes and how frustrated we are that it’s taking them longer than the old ladies to start laying. All of a sudden I receive this picture from the hubby who is taking care of the girls today! YAY! Our Rhode Island Red girls first egg!
Now I’m going to back track and tell you how we trained them!
We put the latest metal nesting boxes in the coop a few weeks ago so they could get used to it. Then 10 days ago we put the fake eggs in the area we want them to lay. The fake eggs are so life-like, including the weight, that we had to mark an X on the tip of the fake eggs to be sure we didn’t pull and sell them! Both of us had done it.
I let the girls watch me put the egg in the nesting area and backed up. They were very curious! Funny to watch.
Anyway, it looks like it worked because we have our first egg! I’m dying too see how big they get and how many we get in a day. Rhode Island Reds are notorious for laying many very large eggs. Let’s see if they can live up to their reputation!
So you are saying to yourself, “but didn’t you just change the nesting boxes?” and you would be right! Why did we change again? Let me explain.
First and foremost we want to have the best eggs for our customers. That means big, fresh, CLEAN eggs. Clean to us also means easy to clean.
Our first set of nesting boxes were your standard wood filled with hay. The hay became a problem because the girls kept kicking it out so there was nothing to cushion the eggs. Sometimes an egg would break and we had to take time cleaning out the wood box and disinfecting it. We decided wood, which is porous, was not the most sanitary option for the ladies to nest in. We even tried disposable nesting pads. They increased the cleanliness but a broken egg would still soak through.
PLASTIC!!…..Plastic is easy to clean, right? Of course it is! So our next set of nesting boxes were made out of plastic buckets. We used the nesting pads and could easily pull out the bucket and wash it. The hens took to them right away but we quickly ran into a snag. The ladies grew so fast over the winter that they started to have a difficult time turning around in the bucket, stepping on or messing on the eggs. This was not working at all.
After calculating the cost of the nesting pads we decided that buying a fancy nesting box would eventually pay for itself. This high tech looking box has got some great features. The red flaps give the ladies privacy. There are no walls in the box so more hens can use it at a time. There is a washable rubber mat for them to sit on. The mat is at an angle which causes the eggs to roll down into a tray in front. That tray is covered so the chickens can’t get at them.
At first the ladies did not want to use it. They started laying eggs on the ground. I put some nesting pads on top of the rubber mat which got them started. I slowly removed the material and they are now laying clean eggs and not cracking them anymore.
See the ladies checking out the new nesting boxes on their YouTube channel:
I went into the coop to feed the chickens this evening. The chickens that were inside started walking out their door when I heard a knocking sound. I looked down to find a small egg being kicked into the wall by the doorway!
YAY! Our first egg! I yelled at my hubby who was refilling the water in the chicken run and I held the egg outside the chicken door. He came running into the coop and started scanning the nesting boxes. JACKPOT! There was another egg in one of the nesting boxes! Someone was watching and learning where the eggs go!
While the chickens have been fun and entertaining, we’ve been waiting for this day when they start paying back! The eggs were smaller than store bought eggs which is normal for newbie chickens. Luckily they weren’t as small as marbles like I’ve seen in pictures of first eggs. Plus they were perfect on the inside. Nothing weird like double yolks or eggs inside of eggs. I’ve seen that first hand and it’s a freaky. And YES, we did eat the eggs the next morning and they were delicious! I’m glad there were two eggs so that each of us could have our own fried egg.
UPDATE: The holiday weekend resulted in a high yield! On Labor Day we got 5 eggs! That means 5 birds worked hard on the holiday! One of those eggs are blue which is what the Araucanas lay. They taste the same, but just tend to be a little smaller than the brown eggs. I’m so happy that all eggs except the first are being laid in the nesting boxes. Those girls learned quick!
Wanna see us frying up our first eggs? Check out the video on What the Flocks YouTube Channel:
Ever since we got rid of the roosters I noticed the hens starting a new pecking order, arguing with each other and jockeying for the best position on the roosts every night. Of course I THOUGHT I was top hen now. Every time I walked into the coop or run they’d stampede up to greet me! I was wrong! There’s a new Rooster in the Hen house and he’s the man I married! This just started, but every time my hubby reaches down to the girls, they stop acting like proper ladies! He starts to pet them on their backs, they squat down, then if he gets to really scratching they stick their butts in the air and start purring! Okay, so they do this with me a little too, but they absolutely LOVE him.
I found out this squatting is a sign that they are ready to start breeding and start laying eggs! That means any day now!
Enjoy this video of the ladies squatting on their YouTube Channel:
The chickens are getting so big! When the vet was visiting she commented on how big and healthy they are looking. Only one thing missing! Eggs!
Someone online recommended keeping the nesting boxes closed until the chickens got old enough to use them. It took the chicks long enough to figure out the roosting bars and I guess having the nesting boxes open would just give them an option to sleep in them.We don’t want that! We want those boxes super clean for super clean eggs! They are going to be 5 months old next week and they say chickens start lay eggs between 5 and 6 months. Now that the ladies have roosting down to a science, I decided it was time to open the nesting boxes!
I started by tearing down the cardboard we covered them with and cleaned the dust out of them. I haven’t complained to about this to you yet but chickens create a LOT of NASTY dust. You can clean every surface and within 2 days it has another thick layer of heavy dust.
Next I put shelf liner in the bottom. Since the boxes are wood, I wanted to make the base easy to clean. Like the linoleum I put on the floor. Then I put some straw on top as soft bedding for the egg.
Since my herb garden hasn’t produced enough herbs for drying yet, I bought a batch specifically for nesting boxes. Not only does it smell good, it also repels insects and the chickens can eat them as snacks too!
Finally, I bought a very expensive teaching tool……Fake Eggs! Sound funny? I thought so. These fake eggs look exactly like regular eggs, including weighing the same. How does this work? Apparently you leave them in the nesting boxes and the chickens figure out “Oh! This is where these things go!” I couldn’t help myself. I had to hold one out so the chickens could take a look at it. Unfortunately they tried to peck it open! Now I’m getting worried. Does this mean I’m going to have the dreaded chickens who eat their own eggs? I’ve read about it and I heard when one chicken starts, the others decide it’s a great idea too! Ugh…another thing to worry about! I decided to leave a few sitting out for them to inspect for awhile. Hopefully they will get bored of them and not care so much when they drop one and I carry it away. Here’s crossing my fingers!
When I let the chickens back into the coop after unveiling the nesting boxes I got nothing. They glanced in and walked away. There is no interest to investigate at all. I even picked up a couple chickens and put them in a box, but they immediately jumped back out. Oh well…..just like the roosting bars, I guess it will take a little time for the instincts to kick in. Now it’s just a waiting game. As my chicken daddy likes to say….”stop being a bunch of freeloaders and get to laying!”
If you want to see the video of the unveiling of nesting boxes, check out What the Flock’s YouTube Channel: