Did Our Chickens Go On Strike?

Guest Post by Michelle Mather

A few weeks ago Cam and I shot a video of our chickens, showing their coop surrounded by bales of hay for insulation. The chickens used the bales like a “chicken jungle gym” and loved to jump from bale to bale. If you missed that heartbreaking work of staggering genius, you can find it here.

In the video Cam explained that we had been told to expect egg production to drop over the cold, dark months of winter, but that our chickens had continued to regularly lay one egg a day each. Of course, our chickens are young (we only acquired them as 20-week old birds last May) and so that might account for their continued exceptional egg production.

A few days after we taped that video I went out to collect the eggs at my usual time and there was only one egg in the nesting box. I thought it was strange, but just figured that they were running a little later than usual that morning. I went out and checked a few more times that day but never found another egg. I was surprised and joked to Cam that the chickens hadn’t liked us “bragging” about them and had decided to withhold their eggs to protest.

The next day the same thing happened. I went out at my usual time and there was only one egg in the nesting box. I went out a few more times and I was in the pen as Cam walked by and I said “Gee… only one egg again today.” We both thought it was strange and then Cam said “They wouldn’t be hiding them somewhere, would they?” I began to look around the pen and sure enough, tucked in amongst the bales of hay were 6 eggs! They had managed to snuggle in and make a “nest” and had decided that it was preferable to their nesting boxes inside their coop!

Over the next few days we noticed that as soon as we let them out of the coop, they would all run over to their “new” nest and fight for the privilege of laying the first egg of the day. Usually we would still find one egg in the nesting box. I guess one of them didn’t want to get into “trouble” for being disobedient!

As the days have grown warmer (last week was much warmer than normal for this time of year!) Cam has been removing the bales of hay and so the ladies have lost their outdoor nest. I am happy to report that I have added extra straw to their inside nesting boxes and they are all back to using them.

Here’s a video that Cam shot showing their “new nest.”

7 Responses to “Did Our Chickens Go On Strike?”

  • Cathy:

    Too bad they aren’t fertile eggs. They naturally want to hatch them but can’t w
    without a rooster. Mine is an excellent protector too.

  • Glee:

    I loved your chicken video. Aren’t they a hoot? Our first batch are entering their fifth spring. They are now laying only sporadically – if at all. The next year’s batch lay about two or three times a week, and the “new” chickens from last spring are laying reliably every day. Our flock grew from one rooster and ten hens to two roosters and forty hens. I get from 25 to 30 eggs a day all through the winter because I put a small 60 watt light in the chicken coop for 12 hours a day. It’s an old horse stall in the barn that was vacant, it’s occupant having moved to his happy hunting grounds after 37 years of faithful service. They have a little door to the outside where they have a fenced playground. I always said I would never have chickens. Never say never. They are such fun. I also have a circle of new freinds who are my egg customers, and an excuse to go into town every week to sell the surplus. I feed the hens and they follow me around. Their antics have provided hours of “chickentainment”. Last year we added a flock of heritage turkeys and we are getting some pekin ducks in a few weeks.

  • Nice! Our ladies took a short break too…except the 2 silkies who kept on laying. One of the silkies even went broody and hatched two chicks…which are now almost as big as their non-biological mommy. Pretty funny to watch them try to run for cover under her now!

  • Thanks Amy! I haven’t tried to kiss any of our chickens yet…. fortunately I read something that warned about putting my face too close for fear of being pecked!

  • Hi Connie. Yes, from what I’ve heard and read, you can expect young, healthy chickens to lay one egg a day. Supposedly during the darkness of winter, they tend to slow down production (as I mentioned, this wasn’t our experience) and as they get older, they will slow down too.

  • So…educate me. Do chickens only lay one per day normally? So if a family of four wanted to eat, say, two eggs per day they’d need to have eight chickens?

  • Amy:

    Those are really good lookin’ chickens, Cam and Michelle! We had chickens when I was growing up – Rhode Island Reds – and those look very similar. I still have a scar on my upper lip from when I tried to give one a kiss when I was a toddler.

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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