This page is very much still under constructionLatest additions January 8,2017


The need for this page was prompted by several questions about eggs and chickens that were put to us and the realization that the answers we gave were somewhat inadequate.

Therefore on this page we’ll provide some general information on chickens, some particular information on our chickens and a lot of information on eggs.   We’ll examine egg safety looking at Salmonella and other bacteria; refrigeration of eggs, yes or no; cleaning of eggs, how and why; fertilized eggs and what that means; shell types, all about the wrinkles and marks; egg shell colour, white eggs, brown eggs, blue eggs, yolk colour and hen age; egg size, small from pullets, large from two year old hens.   We’ll talk about our system of keeping chickens; free range, free run, pastured, grass fed, and how that affects egg production and the other extra problems that all this makes for us.

So keep checking and we’ll be adding information as we get the time to do it.

OUR CHICKENS:   We have several breeds of chicken.  We have different breeds for different reasons. Our ISA Browns and Loehmans are a commercial breed often used by small egg producers such as ourselves.  They are readily available as ready to lay pullets at 19 to 21 weeks of age and some hatcheries have other breeds, such as Frey’s Hatchery’s Red Sex Link breed, which are very similar in appearance and performance. We keep these breeds as they are very good to excellent layers  of brown eggs.  The ISA was developed maybe 40 years ago in France.

We keep an older breed of chicken called Barred Plymouth Rock or just Barred Rock. These were once a very good layer of brown eggs and were a good dual purpose, that is meat and egg, breed but now some of the strains, some of the breed lines, are neither heavy enough for a meat bird nor a good egg layer.  We’ll try to find some good lines so as we can get the egg lay rate, including winter lay, to be at the very good level, 280 to 300 eggs per hen per year. As well we need to bring the hen weight at end of lay to respectable and useful levels. Right now the line of Barred Rock that we have is not such a good layer and last winter went off their lay altogether for nearly three months. They are considered a heritage breed having been developed in the the late 1800’s.

We have another heritage breed, the Rhode Island Red which like the Barred Rock was once a very good brown egg layer and a fair dual purpose bird but some strains, including what we have, need work to get back to the breeds position as a very good layer as they too went off the winter lay last year.

We are also keeping a small number of white Leghorns This breed is a very light Mediterranean breed originally from Italy. They are considered excellent layers of white eggs of a medium to large size.  We are keeping this bird for the white eggs, for variety, but also because they are an excellent layer.  Their excellent lay rate will offset the poor lay rate of the very dark brown egg laying breeds that we are also keeping; the Black Copper Maran from France and the Barnevelder breed from the Netherlands.  The Maran has probably the darkest brown egg of any breed of chicken and though the Barnevelder egg is not quite so dark it is still a nice looking extra dark brown egg.  We would also like to do some work with these two chicken breeds to improve their lay rate and consistency of egg colour, to keep the very dark egg colour and make it a lot more consistent.

We have ordered some chicks from Performance Poultry, a very reputable hatchery near Carrying Place.  We will be getting very small numbers of several breeds so that we can evaluate them for eggs and meat under our growing conditions and methods. We are trying to get chickens that are good winter egg layers and which will have a good lay rate into their second or even third or more years.  We also wanted nice looking, friendly and easily managed birds too. We are getting some Buff Brahmas, Blue Cochins and Partridge Cochins as primarily meat birds, chickens for roasting, and we are wanting slow growing chickens that can be used as roasting fowl over a long time, using them either as very young birds or even as one or two year olds. We will be getting some Ameraucana chicken for their blue /green eggs and Whiting True Blue also for their blue/green eggs. we’ll see which of the blue/green egg layers we prefer.  The Biff Orpington, Silver Laced Wy

OUR SYSTEM OF KEEPING CHICKENS   Our flocks are out on pasture every day all day during the spring summer and fall until December.  During the winter months we open the outside door only when the weather is such that the birds will go out. Otherwise we keep the door closed and the chickens a little warmer.  The chickens are always locked up at night in their chicken houses.  There are far too many predators and potential predators looking for night time snacks.  Owls, coyote, raccoon, weasel, skunk, opossum, dogs, foxes, and probably a few other beasties and things that go bump in the night think that chicken taste great.  Except for the weasels who think that the only good chicken is a dead chicken and will reduce a whole flock to scattered feathers and dead bodies and leave still hungry. Chickens must always be locked up at night but even during the day there is still a small risk of losing chickens to hawks and raccoons. We, and the chickens, takes our chances.

Keep on checking this page to see what we have added!!