Guide to Backyard Eggs

When hens reach maturity and begin laying eggs their bodies take time to adjust to the laying cycle and as a result their first eggs are small.

| August 2017

  • Chicken eggs come in a variety of colors and sizes depending on the breed of the chicken.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • The color of a hen's earlobes are a typical indicator of what color eggs a hen lays.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • In the early 1900's the landscape of American agriculture began transitioning from rural family farming to production for urban families which did not have access to farm fresh items such as eggs.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • This classic egg carton design from the early 1900's is close to the design of modern egg cartons.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • Early egg carriers were designed with address areas on the tops of the boxes in order for eggs to be mailed from rural areas into cities.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • In their early beginnings, egg cartons and carriers were made of either wood or metal.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • The Easter Egger is a type of chicken which lays colored eggs.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • An Australorp is a breed of chicken which lays brown eggs.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • The duration of a hen's laying cycle depends on the hen's breed and general health.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • In Pam Freeman’s “Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics”, learn all about chicken egg diversity, from color and size to egg imperfections and the cause of them.
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

Learn all about raising backyard chickens from small beginnings with chicks and eggs to identifying problems within backyard flocks and how to fix them in Pam Freeman’s Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics (Voyageur Press, 2017).  Freeman’s practical advice makes chicken keeping easier with these guidelines. The following excerpt is from Chapter 4, “All About Eggs."

You can purchase this book from the Capper's Farmer store: Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics.

Once your chickens are finally old enough to lay eggs, it’s exciting to head out to the coop and check the nest boxes to see if you’ve gotten any eggs that day. Your days are filled with anticipation!

When the first egg came from my first flock, I was so excited. I’d been waiting and checking the nest boxes every day. My hens had started squatting as I walked up to them, so I knew eggs were imminent. And then suddenly there it was! I remember grabbing that egg and running inside to show my family. We all stood around the egg and admired it.

We debated whether to keep that egg or cook it. In the end, we couldn’t resist tasting it. So I took a picture for posterity’s sake, then we cooked it and we all had one bite. It was delicious and we were forever hooked on the creamy flavor of the backyard egg.

Over the next few days, we received more and more eggs. I gathered up a dozen and decided the extras should go to the rest of our family. When my dad came to pick some up, I immediately opened the egg carton and preened over the beauty of my fresh eggs. My dad, who grew up in the city, just stood and looked at the eggs. I asked him what was wrong. He asked why they were smaller than store bought eggs. I explained that chickens lay small eggs when they first start laying but not to worry because they get bigger over time. He looked at me and said that was fascinating. He took the eggs home but looked befuddled as he was leaving.



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