Here are the first eggs from my Silver Ameraucana pullets hatched 4/22/19. The birds were 21 weeks old when they began laying. Because there is a variation in the shell color between the eggs, I believe they were laid by two different birds.
Seeing these eggs in September is very exciting for me. The silver color of Ameraucana chickens is notoriously slow to develop. Last year the baby hens didn’t start laying until December. They were 8 months old. That is a long time to wait for new eggs, especially when you are paying to put the lights on in the coop at 4 am every day. Hens need at least 12 hours of light to lay. Here in Maine we get a lot less than that during the cold months.
Here are photos of some of the young hens. I suspected the pullets might lay earlier than their mothers because their little brothers matured earlier than my past generations of Silvers. Some baby cockerels started crowing at 3 months, well ahead of schedule. When I found these eggs yesterday I was over the moon. Finally, hens that start laying when they are supposed to. Yay!
Here are some of the first eggs laid by my silver splash Ameraucana pullets from the Jan hatch. The baby eggs are always the best color. Some of the eggs look big, but this is just a trick of the camera. They are all small to medium grade sized eggs.
I knew the young hens were ready to lay and have been trying to keep them in the pen during the morning to encourage laying in the nest boxes. So far they have deposited 4 or 5 on the floor. For the past few days I’ve been placing hens in nest boxes to show them where to lay. One hen in particular has found a way to escape the pen. She is always hanging around waiting to be let back in when I go out to do morning chores. Today I started to get suspicious about her early morning activities.
Sure enough, after a long search through the hedges and bushes, I found her stolen nest. There were about two dozen baby eggs deposited there. I suspect she and her sisters have been using the nest. So today I will put a new net over the chicken pen to stop the birds from flying out and hiding their eggs. The pullet in the front of the photo below is the main culprit. Such naughty little birds!
We awoke today to the first measurable snow of the season, about 1/2 inch of wet accumulation. The white won’t last long. The next few days will have temperatures in the 40sF with rain. It’s pretty to see, dusting the trees, carpeting the lawns. A warning of what is to come.
Winter dusts the harvest decorations
Snow never stops Otto from enjoying his favorite ball
The first snow of the winter is later than last year by about three weeks. We have enjoyed a very warm autumn. The ground has not frozen yet. I am still harvesting the late apples and they are in good, hard condition. I also collected my hazelnut crop, a total of eighteen nuts!
Next year should bring a better harvest. Only the largest hazelnut bush produced nuts. Hazelnuts require good cross pollination. There are two other hazelnuts struggling to produce flower catkins. They should provide enough to fertilize my largest plant next spring, as long as the deer don’t chew on them again this winter. I trimmed my husband’s hair last night and collected the clippings. Legend holds that hanging little cloth bags of human hair in the branches of trees will stop the deer from eating the twigs. I’m giving it a try.
The pullets hatched in May and June have just started laying. There are a total of thirteen hens. Every morning the lights in their pen come on around four. This gives them enough supplemental light to stimulate laying during the dark, dreary days of late fall and early winter. We are getting an average of eight eggs per day.
The shell color on the eggs being produced by these young Ameraucana hens is lovely. My latest flock is all silver or black plumage color. I believe the blacks produce the deepest blue shade on their eggshells. I breed specifically for the bluest shell color and things seem to be heading in the right direction!
Wanted to share the eggs this year’s pullets are laying. Three or four young hens have started producing eggs nearly daily and I think the colors are very nice. My goal is to produce a medium blue egg. The one in the above photo at upper left center is getting close to the color I’d like.
The Ameraucana chicken, like it’s cousin the Araucana, lays an egg with a blue tinted shell. There are three egg shell color genes in chickens: white, brown or blue. Shell color is one or a mix of those shades. All the eggs in the above photo have blue in them. The green color is a result of dilution by brown. The depth of color is a function of dilution by white.
When a hen first begins to lay, she produces the deepest shell color. As she continues to lay the color fades. The true egg color of a hen is found in the pullet shells or the shells of eggs made immediately after a hen finishes her molt. While the bird molts, or sheds and regrows much of her feathers, she will not lay.
As a sometime dues paying member of the Ameraucana Breeder’s Club, I procured a copy of their Egg Color Reference Chart. Around the edge of the chart are all the known possible colors of egg shells that Ameraucanas produce. To determine the shade, the card is held up to the egg until a close match is found. To me, some of the colors are so similar that it is difficult to differentiate between them when comparing to an egg. The best I can tell, my blue egg is similar to B2. This would mean something to another Ameraucana breeder. The shade in the center of the card surrounding the rooster is the ideal blue that all breeders hope to attain.
There are eleven pullets from this year’s breeding program, so I am waiting for most of them to begin laying. It will be exciting to see what the rest can do! I have been selectively breeding for the best egg color for many years and I feel my efforts are beginning to show success.