Monday, April 26, 2010

...and on the farm she had some chickens, E I E I O

The Wonder Why Alpaca Farm is all about the Alpacas, of course, but we also raise chickens and turkeys. We have quite a few layers who give us between 12-18 eggs every day. We don't "get rid" of the chickens during the winter months like some farms do so we have farm fresh eggs year around.

Chickens don't start laying eggs until they are 19 weeks old. They live 3-8 years if they are not in a factory. Those only will live about two years. It takes about 24-26 hours for a hen to lay an egg and as she gets older, the eggs get larger.

It takes approximately 21 days for an egg to hatch. This year we didn't want to rely on our hens brooding so we took a couple of eggs each day and put them in an incubator. Of course this means that we will have 2-3 chicks hatch each day. Once a chick is ready to hatch it takes about 24 hours for it to totally break through the shell and I didn't believe it until I patiently waited with the kids for those chicks to start hatching yesterday.

There are about 200 breeds of chickens and we probably have about 15. We decided to try different breeds to see how they would adapt to our Michigan Winters plus to see what kind of eggs they hatch along with the fact that they are much prettier to look at than the standard egg layers. Our decision has given us lots of pretty brown, green and blue eggs with very few white.

We should have another two chicks born today. They started poking through their shells yesterday and we can hear them chirping. It's a fun experience for our whole family. By the time these chicks, hoping they are female, start laying eggs our current egg layers will be at the end of their egg laying life...ah, the circle of life.
In celebration of our new chicks hatching we had eggs for dinner last night. The kids are learning about irony.
 E I E I O

6 comments:

  1. Great post! Makes me miss my chickens from years ago. M won't let me have any :( I don't know why really but I hope to change his mind some day.

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  2. The Pigs and I had a great time looking at your chick photos this morning!

    Thanks for all the great info! We love hearing about the farm!

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  3. They are just soooooo cute!! I live out my dream of living on a farm vicariously through your blog. LOL!

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  4. I'm letting my City Girl show this morning; I had no idea that chicken eggs got bigger as the hen got older or that they came in colors other than brwon & white! Very informitave post Andrea, thanks!

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  5. As always, I love hearing about life on your farm - I would love to have farm fresh eggs year round. For now, we rely on the farmer's market. I have learned you can raise chickens in the city (no roosters, though), but hubby isn't quite on board with that :)

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