by Esmaa Self
Backyard hens are an integral part of our sustainability efforts here at Middleground Farm. I feed ‘the girls’ wild greens, table scraps and essential nutrient-rich gruel; in return they give us incredibly healthy eggs. Our free-range flock reduces the property’s bug population and we protect them from chicken predators. It’s a beautiful relationship, and one that blesses us all.
Perhaps you’ve heard that happy hens lay eggs. While flock contentment is relatively easy to attain (simply provide food, water, shade, soil to scratch, safe spaces in which to lay eggs, roost and roam), I am here to tell you that there is a poultry discontent beyond human control.
Some hens are better layers than others and will vigorously produce eggs come what may. Others find it too taxing to lay when the mercury rises above 92° F or falls below 32° F. A few breeds lay through the molt and when days are short, but many do not. Nearly every mature hen will lay eggs in abundance during spring, so productive are they then your refrigerator may become overrun by eggs.