I have just recorded the final egg count for the year of 2011. Our nine chickens laid a grand total of 939 eggs! That is just over 78 dozen eggs. It is not until you count them up that you actually realise how productive our little girls really are.
Here are the stats, month by month in reverse chronological order.
December – 86
November – 91
October – 102
September – 102
August – 86
July – 58
June – 74
May – 41
April – 40
March – 79
February – 72
January – 108
Most of the girls moulted in April and May which is reflected in the stats. When they grow feathers, they stop laying to divert energy to that task. As it warms up again the chickens begin to lay again.
That is the happy news. Now for some sad news. The chicken in the photo, Jennifer, is no longer with us. She passed away two days before Christmas, of an infection that started in her eyes. We had her isolated from the rest of the flock for a month and a half before hand, and she actually got better for a period of two weeks, then all of a sudden went down hill really fast. I was sad as she was my favourite chicken who used to follow me everywhere. Any pet passing on is hard to deal with at the best of times. Yes folks, a few tears were shed, I am man enough to admit it. Some may say she was only a chicken, and she may have never laid a single egg in her lifetime, but we had a close bond.
On the bright side, the other chickens did not catch the infection due to the quick quarantine that I put in place. They are all healthy, with only a few scaly leg mites to deal with, but I treat that fortnightly by dunking their legs in olive oil which does the trick. Other than that small issue, they are keeping cool in the nice undercover area I built them, and love to scratch for worms in the morning, and dust bath in the afternoon. The bantams love a dig under the plum tree each afternoon clearing up any dropped fruit and bugs, then they pop back into their run before sundown.
Due to the hot weather, I have been making sure their water is topped up. The chicken nipples that I installed worked fine, but unfortunately the water barrel got contaminated from bird droppings and stunk really bad (the irony), so I now have to install a first flush diverter to fix this problem. Until then I have to hand water each day, sometimes twice. I am hoping for cooler weather to fix it up this weekend.
So all in all, the benefits of having backyard chickens outweigh the occasional heartache. They provide us and our garden with so many things. Eggs of course, compost machines, fertilised mulch, pest control, weed control and continuous entertainment. They are far better at catching pests than I could ever be, and actually like doing the weeding. So they can do what they are good at, and I will do what I am good at like feeding them a bit of mixed grain, garlic and apple cider vinegar as well as giving them first dibs at any kitchen scraps. They are the ultimate garbage disposal unit.
I love my chickens. Thanks for the eggs girls.