I'm a young homesteader who loves writing and learning. I'm starting pre-veterinary school in the fall. Animals are my life.
Why Is the First Egg So Monumental?
I am very new to all of this homesteading stuff, so any little accomplishment is so exciting and important to me and my animals. I have a very small farm, so I bond with each of my hens and see them as individuals. When I found out that Penelope laid her first egg and that it was fertile, I nearly peed my pants.
My Proud Mama
How It Happened
When we got our girls, we were told that it would be 4-6 months before they would start laying. Well, we rescued a beautiful, mature rooster (estimated ~1 year old), when the girls were 4 months. Bless his soul, he did not try anything with my girls until he knew they were ready, which was about a month later. Even now, there are a few who haven't laid yet that are almost 6 months, and he won't even approach them with his mating dances. Such a gentleman. But when he and Penelope started getting along, I knew it would be soon. And just like that, I was a grandma!!! Well, not exactly. I guess grandmas don't typically eat their grand-babies. But that's what I did. Best egg I've ever had!
Pastel Green Beauty
It Was Fertile?!
Yes!! Well, I think it was. I'm by no means an expert yet, but I have learned some things along the way. When I cracked open her egg, I was able to see a small white disc in the center of the yolk (pictured below). Apparently, that indicates fertility. It's called the "germinal disc," and it is a mass of cells from the female and the male. Good job, Henry! I may consider hatching a few when the nicer weather comes here in the northeast, but I guess that will have to be saved for another article!
5 Things to Know When Your Girls Start Laying
- Make a bunch of nesting boxes available for them. We have 10 nesting boxes, and although they tend to have favorites, it's important for them to get a feel for their box and pick the one they want to lay in. Penelope traveled through 4 boxes before picking the 5th one (I could tell because the straw was all over the place).
- Line the boxes with a good mix of straw and pine shavings. Pine shavings do a wonderful job at absorbing moisture and keeping things smelling fresh. The straw offers a comfortable, aerated place for the girls to lay in. I usually spread the pine in the bottom, and the straw on top, and they always scratch it to their liking.
- Try to get them out of the nesting box before collecting the eggs. Mine simply run out to see their goat brothers every morning as soon as I open their door, so this isn't an issue for me, but an easy way to lure them is by offering them some of their favorite treats. It'll result in less fussing when trying to collect the eggs.
- Be prepared to find some droppings in the nesting boxes. Though chickens are relatively clean, it's bound to happen. Keeping the nesting boxes tidy, as well as the areas around them, is super important to prevent the spread of disease. An easy way to solve this issue quickly is by taking a paint scraper and using it on the poop. Super easy and gets the job done.
- Celebrate with your girls! If your hens are like mine, they appreciate a little human bonding from time to time. I find that when my hens are done laying, they love to come near me and snuggle. This definitely may not be how your chickens express themselves, so know what ways yours like to celebrate! Some may appreciate a special treat, a back scratch, or a boop on the beak!!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Kyleigh O'Hara