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The hens aren't retired after all

My hens abruptly stopped laying back in the summer after two years of laying strong. I had no eggs at all during August, September, October, November, and much of December. I still have a great deal to learn about chickens. The only theory that I could come up with was that they had already reached henopause, so now I would have to support them and pasture them, as promised, for their remaining Golden Years.

But then all of a sudden, in the last week, they started laying huge, beautiful eggs. I am mystified. The only theory I can come up with is that they cannot tolerate hot weather. I have definitely found that my chickens, types that are said to be cold-weather hardy, are much more uncomfortable in the summer than they are in the cold of winter.

By the way, I am down to two chickens — Patience and Ruth. Chastity died during the summer. I have no idea why. She was fine in the morning when I let them out, but I found her lying dead in the grass during the afternoon. It was not a hot day. There were no signs that any kind of predator was involved. Chickens, I understand, sometimes choke to death. So that’s the only theory I was able to come up with.

During my eggless months I bought a dozen eggs only once — good eggs, supposedly, from Whole Foods. I almost threw them out because they were so pale and pathetic. Clearly, if you want good eggs with deeply colored yolks and great flavor, they’ve got to come from pastured hens.


  1. Quetal wrote:

    What happened to getting new chicks?

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    The hens would not accept the new chicks last spring — kept pecking them. So I had to keep the chicks in a separate part of the chicken house, on the lower level. A predator of some sort tore through the wire and got the babies. Very sad.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  3. trailshome wrote:

    If hens are without water for even a short time, or too hot, it will put them off of laying for a long time. With this hot dry summer, even with the best of care, it’ll happen. The other thing that often happens, is that a predator might have been sneaking in and getting your eggs. Sometimes a snake, or tiny mink or weasel can come in a very small opening and eat the eggs and you wouldn’t even know they were there.

    It’s wonderful that you’re getting your eggs again. There’s no comparison between real dirt chicken eggs and those from an egg factory.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    I find it fascinating that the two hens stopped laying at the same time and then, after a few months, started laying again at the same time. This raises the question: Were they both similarly affected by external conditions? Or do the hens somehow influence each other and coordinate their cycles? I am learning that hen-keeping is a profound art and science.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

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