Thursday, December 16, 2010

Egg Count 12

The egg count for November was 280 dozen, or 3,363 eggs, from 315 hens, which works out to an average of 9.34 dozen per day. Thankfully, this represents a significant turn around from the last few months. During November, the Ecotone hens ate 1,850 pounds of grain, or 61.67 pounds per day. If you're following the ongoing grain to egg ratio, this is .55 lbs. of grain for each egg, or 6.6 lbs. per dozen. Like the egg count more generally, these numbers reflect a welcome return to the price of a dozen eggs being lower than their cost.

To some, this turn around may seem counter-intuitive. As you may know, the number of eggs a hen lays over the course of a year is directly related to the number of hours of daylight. As we approach the equinox and the days continue to get shorter, in other words, the number of eggs naturally wanes. Because we've had such low numbers over the course of the summer, and because Animal Welfare Approved allows supplemental light not to exceed 16 hours a day, we decided to experiment with this option.

On November 27th, Jonathan helped run electricity through the pasture to the hens (and pigs), and we successfully installed several CFL lights on a timer. I began the hens off slow, giving them an hour or so of extra light at both ends of the day. As of today, with sunrise set for 6:51 a.m., and sunset scheduled for 4:34 pm., we're just barely getting 9 hours of daylight. Three weeks after installing the lights, the hens (and I) are getting up at 4:30 a.m. and going to sleep at 6:30 p.m., which gives them roughly 14 hours of light. Thus, the eggs.

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