Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A note from Farmer J on "molting"....

We're experiencing an egg shortage around here. Just in time for Thanksgiving.....yes!

Its not fun having people drive up to the farm store for eggs only to tell them "we're out".

"What? How can this be?" They ask.

Well, you see, doing things the "natural" way doesn't always lend itself to our convenience. You would never know that chickens go through a molting process as a grocery store goer based on its endless supply of white eggs that magically appear on shelves all year long.

Sadly, our faithful customers know that this is not the case as does our family who is use to eating almost a dozen eggs for breakfast. What can I say, we love protein!

Laney Rae wakes up in the morning proclaiming that she wants "Eggs Momma Eggs!"

Chickens don't always lay eggs every single day.....unless you force them. And Farmer J will have no part of forcing his feathered girls. He is quite the patient farmer.

He posted the following post on our farm website HERE- we are posting regularly on the farm blog now!!

I really loved that my man wrote up this here post, so I thought I'd put it on here too for a glimpse into the mind of a farmer.

“Brenham, we have a problem.”

Due to chickens being chickens and in their natural environment, exhibiting all of their chicken-ness, we are extremely low on eggs right now. This time of year is a rather difficult time for egg producers- not the chickens. They continue to do the chicken things that chickens do each and every day but their conversion of feed and sunlight are going through different phases. Let me explain.

This time of year, chickens tend to reset their bodies. The most evident is in their displaying of new feathers. This amazing feat performed by the chickens is called “molting.” Throughout the year, they lose their feathers in different sections, putting new feathers on as they go. This keeps them from losing all the feathers at once for this would cause serious protection problems for the chickens. Then, about this time of year (late October – November) they do the big molt. New quills start sprouting from all over and these amazing new feathers begin to form.

Once it starts, there is drastic growth each day. It is rather amazing how these animals are made. However, because during the molting process all of their energy is going to putting this new plumage on, their egg production virtually becomes non-existent until they are done. Not all of our flock is molting right now. I would say about 60% of them are. These are the main contributors to our lack of eggs.

This leaves the remaining 40%. When fall comes, we begin having shorter days. Right now we have about 11 hrs of sunlight. Chickens are very finicky animals and feel they need 14 hrs of sunlight to ovulate at optimum production levels. The chickens that are laying currently aren’t laying an egg a day like they normally do. I hoping that they are laying at least every other day, but there is no way to tell with a flock as large as ours.

So, what to do? This is what we are asking ourselves. We can’t do anything about the molting. This is a natural occurrence that chickens go through. I don’t believe in forced molting that is performed in commercial industrial models. The chickens are starved from food and water for several days until the process stops. They start back up laying eggs once food is introduced again. These chickens look terrible with extreme loss of feathers, which I guess they feel they don’t need since they are packed inside buildings in tiny little cages.

For right now and for the sake of keeping things “natural” around here, we will just live with the molting part of chicken-ness. The shorter days can be remedied. It would be easy to put lights in the house and plug it into the wall for a couple hours a day after the sun goes down but their house moves everyday since they are out on pasture, so that just won’t work. This is where solar lights will come in handy. We are currently figuring out a way to run some lights off solar polar. I feel this will greatly improve production from the non-molting chickens. We’ll see.

All of this is to say, “Please bare with us”. We try to allow our animals to live in the most natural environment possible, which leads a lot of time to natural processes out of our control. We have 400 new layers that should start laying in a few weeks. Our hope is that they will greatly fill in the gaps.

Thank you so much for your support of our farm. Honoring God and His perfect creation, being caretakers of it everyday, and producing healthy food for families is our passion and we are so thankful for families and individuals that allows us to do this everyday.


mandi said...

"chickens being chickens..." love that!

thank you guys for being the kind of farmers that believe that GOd's design is best.

i'm proud to be your friend! (and customer!) : )

Brandi Tejeda said...

I love the way you run your farm. As we wait patiently to begin our own farm, I pray that we are able to farm in this way. I truly admire you and your husband and I too am proud to be your friend!

Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs said...

Haha! I had no idea! Thanks for educating this "grocery goer!"


Paige said...

Tell farmer Jason thanks...I feel like I learned something new today!

Natalie said...

Amen, sister! Some days we're given one or two, and some days, none. We haven't had enough to share in a while...