Winter is a tricky time for chickens. My Hen Pal, Julia, has been telling me all about their woes! None of her five hens laid an egg from mid-November until mid-January – a combination of short daylight hours, dismal weather and their old age.
Rather sweetly, when we had our first really sunny January day, one of the hens heaved out a very weird offering. When Julia first brought it in at teatime, it was whole, but with a patchy, sandy texture, and a curious bump on one end.
By the following morning, the sub-standard eggshell finish had cracked in the warmth of the house and the whole thing looked rather sorry for itself, as you can see in the photo.
Up on Dartmoor where Julia lives, they had quite a covering of snow for almost a week. The chickens refused to come out of their coop unless a patch of earth had been scraped clear. They would then proceed, cautiously, to come outside and eat, drink and scratch around normally, but staying on the cleared area. One brave one did trot across the snow, but then made a point of showing how cold her feet were!
Strangely, the snow brought on even more eggs, possibly because of the amount of reflected light, and they have been producing one egg a day quite regularly for the rest of January.
Who knows how chickens’ minds work? Well, who’d want to, frankly, but these eggy offerings can be taken as a sign that the days are lengthening and that spring is definitely on the way!