chickens seem much happier in their new spring pastures, but are they
more productive? Although I don’t have a non-pastured flock to
compare our chickens to, I figured that if the chickens laid more
during their first week on pasture than during subsequent weeks, then
the prime forage (mostly eaten during the first few days) is impacting
To test that hypothesis,
I graphed the average number of eggs laid daily each week.
Unfortunately, the results are all over the
place, in large part because at this time of year, each week has more
sun than the last, which leads to more eggs over time. I’d love
to think that the huge leap in egg production when I moved the chickens
to their true
(week 6) is due to the quality of forage there, but I know from
examining the eggs that this is merely when our fourth hen (one of the
old girls) finally shook off her winter slump and started to lay.
I’ve got a few avenues to
explore with the pasture productivity question. First, I suspect
currently giving our chickens more food than they really need, so I could cut back their
rations to tempt them to eat more pasture goodies and then repeat this
analysis. It’s also possible that the chickens are finding more
on pasture than I think during the second week and that leaving them in
the pasture for a third week would be necessary to really see a decline
in found food. I’ll toss around some more ideas and report back
if I come up with anything definitive.