Information about eggs and chickens
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT EGG DEVELOPMENT:
- The egg-production process begins when light stimulates a photosensitive gland near the hen’s eyes: when the gland is stimulated an ova is released.
- Hens have one functional ovary.
- Hens generally lay an egg a day for six days and then rest for one day.
- Hens start laying eggs when they are 4 to 5 months old.
- The smallest ever egg laid by a hen weighed just 7.3g and was the size of coin.
- As hens grow older, they lay fewer eggs but the eggs become larger in size.
- The average hen lays on average 300 eggs a year.
- When female chicks hatch, they have 4000 tiny ova. As the hen matures, some of these will become yolks and then eggs.
- It takes around 25 hours for the egg to form.
- The process by which eggs are formed is like a conveyor belt in a factory: at any one time, there are a number of yolks at different stages of development
- Eggs can have multiple yolks. The record for the number of yolks found in one egg is nine.
- An egg without a yolk is called a “wind”, “dwarf” or “fart” egg.
- The largest ever hen egg was laid in 1896. It had five yolks and weighed 340g.
- It is possible for a hen to lay an egg with a fully formed egg inside it.
THE EGG-PRODUCTION PROCESS:
- The ova goes from the ovary and to the funnel-like structure called the INFUNDIBULUM where it is fertilised by the rooster. This part of the process takes about 15 minutes.
- The yolk then moves down into the MAGNUM where the inner and outer shell, membranes, vitamins and mineral salts are added. This process takes 3 hours.
- The yolk then continues on to the ISTHMUS where the egg yolk is wrapped in egg white (albumen). This process takes an hour.
- The yolk and white then move on to the UTERUS or SHELL GLAND where they are covered with a shell. Water is first added to thin the outside of the albumen layer, then shell material (mostly calcium carbonate) and finally pigments are applied. This process takes about 21 hours.
- The egg then passes through to the vagina and is laid. This process takes 1 minute.
- The shell formation process begins in the afternoon/early evening so it is important not to disturb them at this time.
- Any thin points or cracks in the eggshell can be repaired before the egg is laid.
First egg laid by one of the new hens
On 28th October 2013, 5 months and 1 day after the chicks hatched, one of the young hens laid her first egg.
She laid her second one two days later.
Fried Chicken Blood
It was only last Sunday that I learnt how to fry chicken blood to serve as a tapa. Before then, I had always given it to the neighbour’s dog – but not any more. Sorry dog.
When you kill the chicken and cut the neck, drain the blood onto a plate with a sprinkling of salt. Once the blood has congealed, sprinkle a bit more salt on top and cut into squares.
Fried Chicken Blood
Get 5 or so large cloves of garlic and cut into thick slices, skin and all. Fry gently in a frying pan until golden.
- Fried Chicken Blood
Gently add the blood squared and fry until they have puffed up. It is important not to fry them for too long or they will taste like rubber.
The blood has completely different taste to what you might expect and tastes more like egg yolk.
Pour the contents of the pan into a shallow bowl and serve with small chunks of bread.
Chickens at 12 weeks
The chickens are now 12 weeks’ old and are growing well.
One of the male chickens: he’s developing white-coloured ears like his father
The males have started to adopt male posturing and one of them has even tried to crow – although the noise that came out was more like a warble.
Female Chicken at 12 weeks
None of the females has laid an egg yet.
About 10 days after the photo was taken we killed two of the males. We are going to have to kill them at some point so thought that now was as good a time as ever. They did not have much meat on them and there is massive difference between these and the chickens we kill for eating at about the same time. Still, we ate one (chicken casserole and chicken soup) and put the other in the freezer for later.
Chicks after 8 weeks
It was only when I looked at photos of when the chicks had hatched that I realised that they were born exactly 2 months ago today (27th May 2013).
I have now taken the rooster back to the neighbour and the three older chickens keep the young ones in check.
A couple of the young male chickens have already started play-fighting but it’s not serious and they soon get bored.
The total count is 4 females and 5 males so I’m really pleased: the whole point of increasing the flock of laying hens has been achieved.
Chicks at 8 weeks: female on the left, males in the centre and on the right
Because I was going to be getting some more eating chickens we cleaned out and disinfected the greenhouse in preparation. However, the shop won’t be getting eating chickens in until the middle of August.
I’ve closed the door to the greenhouse and yesterday the chicks ventured inside for the first time.