Does anyone ever wonder why their chicken doesn't lay many eggs this time of year? I am in the poultry project and I would like to tell you what I have learned from Pat Strimling, my Poultry Project Leader because I know that a lot of people in our area raise chickens.
First of all, you can buy baby chicks from any feed store usually starting around March or April every year. When you buy a baby chick, it needs smashed up food called chick starter crumble. When they get bigger, you can feed them pellets. They need protection from predators and need to keep warm when they are small so I keep mine in a big Tupperware box with a heat lamp until they get bigger. They need fresh water and food at all times. When they get bigger, they can go outside and wander around. I feed them in the morning and again at night.
Female chicks are called pullets and they will start to lay eggs at around 6 months old. You do not need a rooster (male chicken) for a female to lay eggs. When your pullet is one years old, she is now called a hen. Chickens can lay eggs year round, but they slow down or stop laying when they are molting (when they are growing new feathers) and when the daylight hours get shorter. This is why your hens may not be laying eggs in the winter time.
I have learned that feeding your hens higher protein food like egg layer formula makes more eggs and the eggs are better quality. Also, hens' legs should be pale. If your hens' legs are bright yellow, then their energy is not going into making good eggs or they are not laying eggs. I like to get my eggs everyday so that I know that they are fresh. If you want to check your eggs for freshness, you can put them in water. If they float, they are not good anymore.
I am learning a lot in 4-H and I hope that you learn something from this article, too. Having chickens is fun. I show some of them at the fairs and I have different ones for egg layers. I bought an incubator and make my own chicks now and it is really fun to watch them hatch. It takes 21 days for a fertilized egg to hatch. If you want your eggs to hatch, you must have at least one good rooster.
Our leader is Pat Strimling and if you would like to join our 4-H, you can call her at (559) 683-5149. You don't have to be a student at Coarsegold Elementary to be a member of Coarsegold 4-H, you can live anywhere in Madera County as long as you can come to our meetings. Our group meetings are every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Coarsegold Community Center.
4-H Statement: Madera County 4-H Youth Program is a non-profit organization for youth who are 9 years old or who have completed the 3rd grade and up to age 19 years of age.