The Araucanas have well and truly shut down production – a bit like Parisians who close up their shops/businesses and head to the South if France for the month of August. Except this is a slightly longer vacation. We won’t be collecting any pale blue and khaki eggs from those little hens until February now, when the days begin to lengthen and they think about rustling them up again. It’s the end of their very first laying season – they only began this year, around Valentine’s Day which is in keeping with poultry tradition.
What I’d like to know is why are those extra hours of daylight so vital for egg production? And how have hybrids been developed so that their productivity levels don’t plummet? Thank goodness for our trusty flock of no-nonsense poultry – the White Stars are particularly hardworking, along with the Black Rock, Bovan’s Goldline (among the trusty band of no-frills brown birds), Speckledy, Pied Suffolk and honorary pure-breed Rhodie, our Rhode Island Red who we hatched out alongside the Araucanas last year but seems to be considerably less work-shy.
What did henkeepers used to do for eggs over the winter, before the development of hybrid birds? Do ducks continue to lay? Perhaps they kept a couple to tide them over. What do pure-breed lovers do now, for that matter? It’s positively painful to go to the shops and buy a box – and I find I can’t eat other eggs now I’m hooked on my own flock’s orange-yolked stunners. I accidentally picked up an egg sandwich at an event the other day and it made me feel quite queasy.
I find the balance of fancy fowl, who I think of more as pets who produce eggs in fair weather, with a gang of worker hens, who’ll lay almost every day, the best solution, especially as I’ve a little egg-selling business to keep going, which now covers the costs of the hobby at £1.50 per half-dozen.