“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”Henry David Thoreau
Summer is hard on Texas farms. Month-long droughts dry watering holes, a meaner, longer sun scorches forages, and the highly interactive symbiosis of spring regresses into the protective, cooler depths of the earth. The stresses of an oppressive Texas summer are most unforgiving to our laying hens.
Chickens are extremely routine-oriented and any change in environment can affect their laying. Egg production seasonally ebbs and flows in any naturally dynamic flock. Since our chickens are not living in a light- and temperature-consistent, confined, controlled environment like commercially-raised hens, it’s expected that they’ll respond to different stimuli (or the lack thereof) by ceasing egg production until their world stabilizes.
Hens lay best in temperatures roughly between 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures reach well into the 90’s, chickens reserve their energy by reducing egg production, which is taxing on their bodies.
Also, chickens consume less of their feed during summer. This is normal, as the heat causes a loss of appetite, just like in us humans. Protein consumption has been proven to directly affect size and even rate of egg laying. Ergo – less protein equates to less(er) eggs. Reduced intake also leads to reduced calcium which could negatively affect eggshell quality. Broken or cracked eggs go straight to the pig trough. (Our loss is their gain – they LOVE them!).
Now that you know more about the natural cycle of egg laying, you might be asking yourself, “Why don’t I notice a shortage of eggs at the supermarket also?” I’m glad you asked! Commercial producers confine their laying hens in large, metal buildings with sterile floors which afford a much easier environment to cool. These globo-companies also imitate a more steady sun via overhead fluorescent lights so that the hens won’t know when the seasons change (since most of these ladies have never seen one, the trick works!) and therefore won’t regularly molt or give their bodies much needed breaks.
All-in-all, we’re OK with the natural cycle of waxing and waning egg production. Though it means we may not sell as much and work a little harder we’d much rather work WITH nature than AGAINST IT. This allows our animals to thrive naturally, living their best life, which shows itself in the high-quality products they provide.
We appreciate your patience during these cycles and hope you now feel more connected to your food source. Thanks for supporting our small farm!