The XXXL egg
We have learned that it takes a lot for a hen to lay an egg…
We recently booked a trip away to visit the Christmas market at Aosta in Northern Italy.
It would have been cruel to expect our free ranging chickens to last 3 days in a very small coop…so we dedicated ourselves to building a larger, predator-proof coop before we left.
Unfortunately, the task was far bigger than we expected.
We had to dig a 30cm trench around the walls, lay u-shaped chicken wire in it, weight the wire down with rocks and rubble, then fill it in, carefully carving out a nice spoon drain at the same time to ensure water run-off from the coop.
While I did this work, Stu built the walls of the coop which meant laying strong small-hole wire on the walls and the roof. He then laid plastic corrugated sheeting on the wire roof to ensure that the space would stay dry during the autumn damp and stretched plastic sheeting around the wire sides to protect our flock from harsh winter winds.
The biggest challenge came with erecting a predator-proof door and encasing around the odd-shaped nest boxes. This took a full day.
We were going well with our work until we realized that we only had a couple of days left before our trip…and far too much work to complete before we went!
We had no choice but to work even harder.
The hens regularly came to visit us while we worked. They seemed to be a little concerned about what we were doing with their home but we couldn’t afford to waste any time worrying about what they might be thinking.
So we continued to work on.
A few mornings before we left for Aosta we noticed that Drumstick hadn’t laid an egg. We assumed that she had been put off by our activity around the coop and the nesting box so decided that (regardless of our time constraint) we wouldn’t start work that day or the next until we had given her the time and space to lay an egg.
The next morning, we watched Drumstick carefully.
She seemed agitated, worried, nervous, anxious.
It took her a couple of hours but finally she laid an egg.
An enormous egg, an abnormally huge egg.
I took the warm and strangely marked egg inside to surf the sizes of ‘normal’ eggs.
I found that a ‘medium’ egg weighs between 53 and 63 grams and a ‘large’ egg weighs between 63 and 73 grams.
Drumstick’s egg weighed 100 grams.
We will never impose on the security and routine of our hens ever again…