Pip just laid the first egg of the day. She is one of the hens I am counting on to bring today’s meager egg haul to four. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I know plenty of people on the Backyard Chickens Forum who, dealing with molting and winter slowdowns, would be thrilled to be getting a 40% egg day.
But that’s not the point. The point is this:
The egg at left is the one Pip just laid. The egg at right is the one Alexia laid yesterday afternoon. Both girls are Light Brahmas, a large, late-maturing breed. Both turned 8 months old yesterday. Alexia was the first to lay of all our pullets, and, so, has been laying quite a bit longer than Pip.
So…what up? Why the size disparity? Alexia’s eggs have always been the smallest. So much so, that I don’t include them when I place eggs in our 6-egg cartons. Pip’s eggs, once she stopped laying them from the roosts, leaving them at the mercy of merciless gravity, have always been the largest (the occasional double-yolker aside).
When you buy eggs at the supermarket, they are all perfectly uniform. Same colour; same size; same shape. They are sorted for this, of course, but it’s more than that. The hens are bred and selected (read “culled”) with the objective of achieving this uniformity. I know that I had become so accustomed to this practice that I was shocked at the variety of eggs I was seeing, just from my tiny flock of ten girls.
I take a lot of ribbing because I can look at the egg and tell you which hen laid it, but it’s not hard. They are all different colours and sheens and shapes. Abby’s and Coraline’s are the same colour and sheen, but Abby’s are long and pointy, and Coraline’s are so round you can’t tell which end is the big one.
Each of them is her own little individual, with quirks and opinions and needs. And, who knows? Maybe even souls.
Realising this has made me all the more distressed for the vast majority of laying hens, who don’t live as well as mine do.
And I’ll stop there, before I go off on a rant…