2.620 eggs😮 Our hens graced us with 2,620 eggs last year!!!
2,032 duck eggs were laid by around 18 ducks (numbers fluctuated throughout the year). That’s over 178 eggs per duck! Our chickens laid 588 eggs from, on average, 6 hens. That comes to 98 eggs on average per bird! To be fair to the chickens, their numbers were more variable this year as we had some new chicks coming online, a few older hens, and quite a few losses to foxes. Also, the chickens seem less inclined to lay where they are supposed to! The new duck coop is going to provide housing for the chickens as well. Chickens enjoy height and ducks enjoy floor space, so there’s room for both.
February/March is the time of year when the ducks start laying in earnest. Their peak laying month in 2019 was May, whereas it was March in 2018 and April in 2017. Likely the peak laying times are a combination of weather and how old the ducks present are. Younger ducks lay more! At this point they are beginning to show signs of a slight increase in production with the daily egg average going from ~2 to ~3 eggs per day (from all 18 ducks). Chickens seem to start laying in earnest a little later. In 2018 their peak laying month was June. Last year it was October, but that is because 5 new chicks started laying in the fall! Before the chicks, June and April were the next top laying months.
One of my favorite breakfasts is easy to make, and it’s very, very local. I love scrambled eggs and bacon. It’s not an everyday breakfast around here but it’s great for special occasions or on those mornings when I ‘m in the mood for something hearty!
My first step is to make the bacon. Lately I’ve been using the oven to cook the bacon; it cooks up crispier and I can easily fit all my bacon on the tray, leaving extra bacon in the fridge for other recipes. After it’s baked, I drain the bacon and put about a tablespoon or two of bacon grease in a skillet and add scrambled eggs (eggs, herbs, salt, milk, and a bit of parmesan or romano cheese). While they’re cooking I often make a bowl of mixed veggies. They add to the yummy flavors and a serving of veggies is perfect with such a heavy breakfast! By the time the eggs are cooked, the bacon is cool and the whole meal is plated up. I pour the mostly-cooled bacon grease into a glass jar (jelly jars are best) and I keep it to use with various recipes (Alfredo sauce is great with a roux made of flour and bacon grease). Hammi is always happy with a spot of bacon grease on his food too! I love that in about 20 minutes, I get a lovely breakfast as well as bacon grease and cooked bacon to use in many other meals!
But I digress. What I really mean to say is that you have an opportunity to have your own tasty bacon to add to the eggs you already buy! We often have custom pork and lamb available for you!
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money while getting the best quality meat possible. Bulk means not only is the price per pound less than retail cuts, it also means you can make choices you can’t make buying retail. You can pick your favorite sausage flavors, buy thicker or thinner cuts of meat; whatever your preference, have your sausages made into patties because that’s the only way your four-year-old will eat it, and you can ask for the bones and leaf lard if you’re inclined!
To purchase in bulk, just follow the instructions above Email me or visit our online store to place a deposit (choose local pick-up for your shipping method). I will contact you with further details.
Molting is a normal process for birds that disrupts egg production for me every year. Sadly, I tend to forget about it until the feathers start coating everything and the egg numbers go wayyyy down. I was just looking back on last year’s numbers and saw that the chicken molt didn’t start until the last week of September but that the egg numbers never really recovered whereas the duck molt was most of September and October but recovered after that.
Birds molt to replace their feathers. It’s important even for birds that don’t fly much because feathers are their insulation! Over time, feathers tend to get a bit worn and unkempt. To replace the feathers, the birds lose their old feathers and then regrow new ones. This process requires a lot of protein so the chickens redirect the protein they usually use to make eggs into producing new feathers. To support them, I raise the protein level of their feed to help them molt more quickly and easily, but it still takes time. Chickens can have a hard molt or a soft molt. The hard molt is when they lose their feathers quickly and look half naked. My chickens rarely do this. Instead, they do a soft molt where they gradually begin losing feathers and replace them all more slowly. This means they look a bit scruffy but rarely do they have bald patches. It takes a bit longer and this is why I don’t have many chicken eggs in the fall and winter!
Ducks molt a bit differently. They do a hard-core molt and are generally done in a few weeks. They don’t all do it at the same time, so I usually just have fewer duck eggs rather than none! The other day Abby brought me a duck who was limping slightly to check. She didn’t know the duck was molting (growing feathers can be rather sensitive so I try not to handle the ducks too much during molting). After checking her feet, I was able to take two great pictures of her wings with their feathers growing in! Check out the images below.
I’m guessing you have already heard great things about soaked and fermented food for humans, but did you know they can help our our animal friends too?
Our chickens, ducks, and pigs are all fed soaked or fermented grains every day. It makes a huge difference in their health and the quality of the food they produce! Think about it; for a seed to become a plant someday, it needs to be able to pass through an animal’s stomach whole to be replanted and grow. By soaking and fermenting, we making it easier for those seeds to be digested, rather than planted!
To start, the grains are soaked in water for at least 12 hours. This causes the seed coat to swell and the “good stuff” inside the seed is easier for the animals to access and process. Because they’re better able to break down the seed and access the nutrition inside the seed, less seeds are passed through the digestive system without being utilized, so more nutrition is gained.
At this point in the process, I sometimes feed the grain to the animals. Space and time constraints mean I can generally only have once bucket of grain soaking at a time, so while some of the grain continues on to the fermentation process, some of it needs to be consumed after 12 hours.
What’s left goes on to ferment. This process takes about 2-3 days though I’ve seen it happen in less time. Unlike cattle and other ruminates who ferment what they eat on their own, pigs, chickens and ducks do not ferment their own food and thus miss out on the added benefit of fermentation.
Fermentation encourages the natural yeasts to modify the anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are substances that actually inhibit the absorption of minerals (gluten, lectins, phytates) and removing them or changing them increases the absorption of nutrients.
When fermentation occurs, you can tell because you can see gas bubbles rising from the grain!
I got my first ducks by accident. A friend had a small flock and was annoyed by how much work it was to get them into the coop at night. Her daughter wasn’t really interested in the ducks anymore and not helping as much with them (she was still pretty young too). I was newly on the farm and eager to give anything a go, so I was happy to take them on!
Five years later and I still have ducks. I fell in love with them quickly. Not only are they adorable, but their eggs are amazing!
Want to find out more about duck eggs, why bakers love them, and how they’re great for everyday cooking? Read on!
How are duck eggs different than chicken eggs?
The quality of the egg is determined by the poultry who made it. Our chickens and ducks eat the same GMO- and soy-free fermented feed, but the ducks tend to forage more. This is apparent when my ducks eat less in the summer than the winter, while my chicken’s food consumption doesn’t change as much. The ducks also forage longer each day. Visit anytime in the evening and you’ll notice that the chickens head to their coop around dusk whereas the ducks stay out until twilight (which is after 9 pm now that it’s June)!!! Good foraging means a more diverse diet and thus a better nutrient profile for the eggs…. [read more]
Find out more by reading our article on duck eggs!