A solid six weeks after the winter solstice, egg production is finally starting to go up! There wasn’t a single day between December 13 and January 25 on which more than one-third of our chickens laid an egg. Since January 26, we’ve only dipped below the one-third mark one day, so I’m taking that as a good sign!
Egg laying is controlled in part by day length, but so is the process of molting, during which a chicken loses and regrows her feathers, typically in fall and winter. You can tell a chicken is molting by looking at her; she looks ten times worse than you felt on your worst hair day ever. Large patches of feathers go missing starting on the chicken’s head and neck and then on down the body.
One consequence of molting is that when chickens start laying again after the molt, they tend to lay fewer, but larger, eggs. The eggs we are getting now tend to fall into the extra-large category.
To sell eggs in Georgia, you must have an egg candling license. Acquiring a license is relatively easy, requiring you to pass a written exam and an egg candling exercise. During the classroom instruction period, you learn about basic chicken biology, the egg-laying process, safe handling protocols, and about the different size categories of eggs.
A carton of one dozen eggs is sized by the total weight of the dozen eggs. Thus, while the eggs within a carton marked large will average around two ounces each, individual eggs could actually be considered to be medium or extra large. A dozen large eggs weighs 24-27 ounces, while extra large are 27-30 ounces, and medium eggs are 21-24 ounces.
Just as in early fall when we lowered our egg price slightly while our young hens were pumping out medium-size eggs, we will be charging slightly more for the extra-large eggs. However, a dozen large eggs will remain the same price as before.