Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cold climate egg production!

One of these days I’m going to write about my building/energy efficiency and community building projects again, but for now it is eggs that are exciting me. I arrived back from an overnight trip to Ft Yukon (where there is some interest in chicken raising due to the high cost of AC store eggs) to find 5 blue-green eggs in the nest!! So it seems at least 3 of the girls are laying. And here is breakfast this morning:

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The lighter yolk, bigger egg is a local egg but not from my hens. My hen egg is the one with the bright orange, firm yolk! Delish! Shells are strong as well, and the chickens seem healthy.

So, as I commented on in the last post, my local, energy efficient coop management seems to be working: a 40 watt equivalent 8 watt led bulb on a timer to give 14 hours of supplemented light, in an insulated but unheated coop. Alaskan grown grain (oats, barley, and or wheat) available from an automatic feeder in the coop. Unfrozen water supplied once a day. Scraps are brought with the water including crushed egg shells, table scraps including greens frozen for them in the fall, and salmon scraps (guts, backbones, skin, heads, roe, etc – about a pint to a quart a week). All for 5 hens and 4 ducks.

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Little blue frozen egg!!

One of my hens laid a little blue-green egg in the nest box this morning! It was 10 F in the coop, so it froze before I got to it, but I’ll cook it today. I don’t heat my insulated coop, and the little door to their yard is always open unless it is double digits below zero F.

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So cold doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to laying! Neither does my tough-love, low energy treatment: to have as sustainable an operation as possible I only feed local grain (wheat, barley and/or oats – always available) and bring them salmon and table scraps and warm water once a day. We’ll see if that egg tastes fishy since most of their protein and calcium comes from salmon!

The key is light. I got them as new hatched chicks June 15, so they are about 31 weeks old. A couple of weeks ago I installed a compact fluorescent bulb on a timer in the coop and have generally been giving them an additional hour of light a day until today. Today they will have artificial light from 4:30am to 9:30am (dawn) then from 4:30pm (dusk) to 6:30pm – 14 hours as my sources tell me they need. Yesterday they only had 13.5 hours, so that was enough for one girl! I will slowly adjust the hours to start later so the eggs don’t have so much time to freeze.

It certainly seems like a miracle that they are starting to lay! Here is the flock:
The black Easter-egger type (blue/green egg layers):

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One of the three grey Easter-eggers:

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Probably the lone brown egg layer – the barred rock mutt:

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And, of course, the duck family:

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3pm update: another little blue egg in the nest – this one not cracked from freezing!! And I ate the first egg and it was delish – no fishy at all!

A permaculture garden in Alaska – most of the year

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