Egg production on our urban “farmlet” over time

Aw, who else graphs out the egg production of their chicken flock? Only an uber-nerd would do that. Guilty as charged!

I keep a tiny flock of chickens in our tiny southern California yard. Our entire yard is 4,500 sq ft, with house, 3-car garage, driveway and sidewalk occupying most of the land. I have a license from the city to keep up to 6 chickens. I have never had that many at one time, though. Three or four chickens is the right number for us. I try to replace chickens as they leave us through attrition–they die from old age, disease, or predators–to keep my egg production at around 350-500 eggs a year.

Back in early 2010, I got three adult hens from a farmer in San Diego. Over time, I acquired three more from Centennial Farm in Orange County, and I raised two from day-old chicks. So I have had a total of eight chickens.

2016–279 EGGS

Here is an Excel chart showing our 2016 egg production.

2016-egg-production2

The vertical axis is number of eggs that we got per month. The horizontal axis is the number of the month, where 1 = Jan., 2 = Feb., etc. Series 1 is # of eggs. The table just below the month # is the number of eggs produced that month. For example, we produced 54 eggs in April, the 4th month.

As you can see, production peaked for us in April, held fairly steady in May, then dropped off sharply after August, when we lost Miss Hillary to a marauding opossum. That left me with 4-yr-old Dino-Peep (a Barred Rock) and 7-yr-old Chicken Little(a Black Sex-linked cross), who isn’t laying much. I think she laid only in April and May this year. Egg production stopped after November because Dino-peep, my only laying hen, went into molt. Unless Princess Aurora (my new Black Sex-linked pullet) goes “on-line” in the remaining two weeks of December, this will be it for egg production for 2016, a paltry 279 eggs.

2015–466 EGGS

Compare 2016, above, to egg production in 2015, below. In 2015, I had Chicken Little, Miss Hillary (a Barred Rock), Dino-Peep, and Cheep (another Barred Rock), four laying hens. Both Dino-peep and Cheep were still in their prime, but we lost Cheep in June.

untitled

In 2015, instead of egg production peaking in April-May as it did in 2016, it peaked sharply in May, falling off rapidly in June when Cheep died of cancer. (I know, because I had her necropsied by a veterinary pathologist. I didn’t think a 3-year-old chicken should have died. Turns out that it is common for chickens to get cancer after the age of two.)

Total egg production in 2015, with four chickens for the first half of the year and three the rest of the year, was 466. We gave away a lot of eggs that spring. This helps me adjust my production goals. I think 450 eggs is a good number to shoot for, with a minimum of 350. Our production in 2016 didn’t meet our needs, even using frozen eggs, and I had to buy eggs when we had company.

2014–530 EGGS

We got 530 eggs in 2014, but I don’t seem to have saved data on how many we got each month. We seem to have harvested 86 lbs of fruit and 167 lbs of vegetables that year for a total of 253 lbs of produce. I still haven’t logged my harvests from 2015 or 2016 into Excel.

2013–770 EGGS

In 2013, Dino-peep and Cheep were new hens in their prime. We also had Miss Hillary and Chicken Little. We got a whopping 770 eggs that year. We were awash in eggs. Again, I didn’t save the monthly data.

I harvested 92 lbs of fruit and 74 lbs of vegetables, for a total of 166 lbs of produce.

2012–320 EGGS

I saved monthly egg production data from 2012, and logged it into Excel. Assuming that production was actually zero in November and December (versus me just forgetting to complete my annual log), we got a modest 320 eggs in 2012.

2012-egg-production

March, April and May were peak months, with (presumably) no eggs in November or December. The birds tend to molt in the winter, and egg production ceases then, so it is logical that we got no eggs versus me just forgetting to complete my annual log. Also, egg production slacks off with decreasing day length. This is why I freeze eggs during the surplus months of April-June, so we can have some during the slow period in winter. I suspect that this is the year that I raised Peep, Cheep, and Cluck (who got eaten as a chick) from day-old chicks. My laying hens would have been Miss Hillary, Chicken Little, and Henrietta.

We got 73 lbs of fruit and 292 lbs of vegetables in 2012, for a total of 365 lbs of produce. I must have had my plot at the community garden that year.

2011–313 EGGS

2011-egg-production

I have no explanation for why production went down in March. Egg production peaked in May, and dipped sharply in June, with a slight rebound in July, then a long slide into non-production. Our egg production total for 2011 was a modest 313 eggs. This was the year I acquired Miss Hillary as a 2-yr-old hen. I named her after a hurricane that came up from Mexico that year. She went broody on me almost immediately, so we got few eggs from her. In fact, she went broody most summers and was never a very good layer. If I had a real farm, she would have gone into the stewpot. But our lucky hens enjoy unlimited vacation and retirement benefits.

We harvested 46 lbs of fruit and 187 lbs of vegetables that year. My fruit trees were still fairly young.

2010–463 EGGS

I acquired my first three hens from a farmer in San Diego in February, 2010. Henrietta, a Black Australorp, and my favorite hen. She would let us pick her up and pet her. She traveled to my husband’s bird class a couple of times to demonstrate feathers. Henny Penny was a Black-sex-linked hen. They were hatched in 2008, and are both gone now. We lost Henny Penny fairly soon after getting her, sometime in 2011, and replaced her with Miss Hillary, a Barred Rock.

Chicken Little (a Black Sex-linked), was a mere pullet when I got her, hatched in 2009. Chicken Little is still with us, and still laying, but only in the spring.

2010-egg-production

What the heck was going on in June to result in that big drop in production? Did we go on vacation and not log in the eggs? Probably. We have people come take care of our chickens while we are gone and they don’t always let us know how many eggs they got. That is my best explanation.

BACK to the PRESENT

 

Now we have four hens: six-yr-old Chicken Little (a Black Sex-linked), a nasty-tempered Barred Rock named Dino-peep, and the two new girls, Princess Aurora (another Black Sex-linked), and aloof Princess Ariel (a white and black Ameraucuna). Could we be looking at another 700+ egg year? Maybe it is bad luck to count your eggs before they are laid.

Putting all of that data together, we get a total of 3,141 eggs produced to date over seven years. Not too shabby. Here is what it looks like graphed out.

total-eggs

This is an average of about 450 eggs a year. Hope you enjoyed this nerdy review of our egg production over time. It was a valuable review for me, and helped me to adjust my expectations.

 

 

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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2 Responses to Egg production on our urban “farmlet” over time

  1. Suzanne pollack says:

    I love chickens. Sadly my neighbors don’t.

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