Chickens are supposed to lay the most eggs when they get the most sun. Thus, winter is the slowest season for egg production and now–barely more than a week after summer solstice–should be their peak.
Every day, whichever one of us feeds the hens will announce to the other how many eggs we collected. And I’m chagrined to say that lately, the numbers have been low. From five hens, we’re getting two eggs, one egg, sometimes NO eggs. It’s nothing like last summer, when each hen was pretty reliably laying every day.
There are a couple of possible explanations. One, the chickens have figured out some other nesting location–not unlikely, considering their current spot is rife with berry bushes and other thigh-high vegetation where they can hide.
Full of secrets.
We just haven’t found the time yet to crawl around on hands on knees until we put a hand into an unofficial egg cache (though it does sound like fun, doesn’t it?)
Two, the girls are getting older. It’s to be expected that with age, they’ll slow down the laying. We just didn’t think it would happen this year; the hens are not yet two.
If they really are past their prime, it forces us into some tough decisions. Chickens can live a decade or more. Will we continue to feed their girls (along with younger compatriots) even if they’re not feeding us? At what point will we stop thinking feathered friends and start thinking soup?
I’m sure some of you have confronted this situation. Readers, what have you done with your not-so-productive hens?