Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Egg Count 9

The egg count for August stands at 43.65 dozen, or 1.41 dozen a day. Not only is this the lowest number of eggs since I began such an accounting, it also includes this year's flock of pullets, which are now 30 or so weeks old and should be well into laying. That 1.41 dozen per day average, in other words, is from roughly 300 laying-age chickens.
Of course, if you eat Ecotone eggs on any kind of regular basis, you already knew this. For the entire month of August, egg availability was at an all-time low. As I've suggested before, the ultimate source of the problem is the heat. But it's also just part of the deal when you remove chickens from climate controlled buildings and put them outside on pasture. By controlling the temperature and regulating the light, industrial egg farms maximize the number of eggs a hen can lay, which leads to physiological burnout and culling within the first year, and is the ultimate source of cheap, plentiful eggs year-round. Powered by petroleum and seasoned with salmonella, naturally.

But just to give you a sense of the economics of such a month on a small farm, I ran the numbers on feed costs. For chickens as for people, one by-product of the heat is a diminished appetite. Daily grain consumption was down to .15 pounds of grain per hen, or a total of 1,326 pounds for the month. Of course, grain is the same price whether they are laying are not, and given the month's totals, that puts the cost of each dozen eggs from Ecotone at $9.06, or .75 cents an egg. Given how many dozen eggs were laid in August, the feed to egg ratio this month was roughly 30 pounds of grain per dozen, or 2.5 pounds per egg.

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