October 2018 – Sponsored by Purina Animal Nutrition
By: Charlotte Brunin
In this post I am going to tell you how I stumbled into Purina’s Feed Greatness Challenge through rigorous campaigning by a seven-year-old. Sometimes the smallest voices make the most sense.
Our three remaining hens are laying at a rate of about an egg per day. I haven’t figured out yet if I have slackers, or if they’re laying at an even pace.
– Sophia continues to cackle and comment over most things.
– Blanche seems to be the friendliest and outgoing. (Yea she is!)
– Dorothy provides a common ground for the both. She is outgoing but possibly more calculating than Blanche.
Their proximity to the garden has given the kids an easy way to work on taming the hens. Blanche and Dorothy can’t resist the juicy cherry tomatoes that are offered by hand. Sophia continues to be apprehensive.
Yes, we have personified the chickens. The kids love them. Aurora the 7-year-old has been checking for eggs every day. She reports back on what the girls have to say, if their home is untidy, and if they need a change of food and water.
An egg a day may not seem like a lot, but we’re a busy city family with little time for breakfast. We are stockpiling eggs. In addition to her other chores and ambitious projects, Aurora has decided to start selling eggs. At the moment she is selling them at $1 per dozen to her grandparents (I compare her methods to extortion…). Being the entrepreneur that she is, Aurora would like to expand her market and raise the price. She has even mentioned getting more chickens.
Until Bruce is trained, and the chickens can free-range, we probably won’t be buying any more. The only time our hens have been able to explore the yard is when I change their bedding. (There will be an update on Bruce to come.)
However, I did explain to her the importance of quality products. If she’s going to charge more, perhaps we could try selling the eggs as more nutritious? These are homegrown eggs from hens that get our scraps, and what I assumed to be a quality feed. If she included a sales pitch with the facts below, then $3 a carton or 50 cents per egg seems reasonable. That hard-to-crack shell and deep yellow yolk is worth more!
Especially, when eggs from home contain:
– 1/3 less cholesterol
– 1/4 less saturated fat
– 2/3 more vitamin A
– 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
– 3 times more vitamin E
– 7 times more beta-carotene
After this explanation, Aurora waited for me to be busy, cleaning the coop to corner me and turn on her charm… She mentioned that we could say the eggs are organic… “Umm, Aurora, you can’t just say they’re organic. Yes, they eat vegetables from the garden, but that doesn’t make them organic layers. Surely our feed isn’t organic…”
A – “Oh, well then let’s get them organic feed! They have it at the farm store.”
C- “I don’t because it’s more expensive.”
A – “Well if I can charge more for my eggs, then we can pay for it. The chickens will be happier and healthier too! Really, we should all be eating organically. You buy organic milk and eggs from the store. Why don’t we have our eggs be organic if we’re going to eat them?
C – “Aurora, I buy organic eggs because then I know they aren’t being fed poor quality food.”
A – “So is the food they eat now good quality?”
C – “I have no idea”
A – “Then let’s buy organic!”
C – “Okay, if we start feeding organic we need to measure the difference in our hens and their eggs!”
A – “Yes, I love an experiment”
C – “Of course you do.”
Does anyone else have kids!? Are they all this smart? This child is killing me, but she’s right!
Aurora and I took to the internet to see what our options were. As you may remember, these hens are probably a bit older, have recently been exposed to illness, and need to pick up the pace a bit when it comes to laying. I made sure to take those factors into consideration when weighing my organic feed options. The winner ended up being Purina’s organic layer feed with their “Oyster Strong® System.”
Feeds that include the Oyster Strong® System have everything laying hens need without a need to supplement, including:
- 18% protein, 3.25% calcium for daily performance
- Prebiotics and probiotics for immune and digestive health
- Amino acids for feathering and egg production
- Marigold extract for rich, yellow yolks
- Calcium, manganese and trace minerals for bone and shell strength
- Both quick-release and slow-release calcium sources for consistent calcium supply and strong shells
- Vitamins A, D & E for feathering and egg production
I’m looking forward to this weekend when Aurora brings her salesman smile to church and starts taking orders. Hopefully, this food will help our ladies keep up with the demand.
In addition to honing her entrepreneurial skills, I love that the chickens give the kids more responsibility and the chance to have “dirty work” pay off. As my grandmother used to say “A little poop never hurt anybody!”. That’s an entirely false statement but is incredibly fun to repeat the kids when they’re helping clean the coop or grabbing an egg with a bit of poo on it.
I also feel like they’re learning a lot about empathy while trying to tame the Golden Girls. Even Suzy’s death was a lesson for all of us. If you have the opportunity to get chickens… DO IT, especially if you have kids! Chickens are an excellent tool for teaching, a good excuse to get outside, and are incredibly pleasant to be around.
My chunky chicken chaser is learning not to chase chickens.
30 Day Update
We are 30 Days into our experiment with the Feed Greatness Challenge. We have noticed a slight increase in our white egg production. I believe this means that the slacker is starting to catch up. Although I don’t know what crosses have happened in these ladies’ genetics, I am willing to guess that the light colored Blanche is my slacker.
One of the other girls seems to be laying “double yolkers” at a rate of 1 per week. This could point to a genetic disposition to release extra yolks before the shell develops, then encapsulating them both, OR it could hint that my Golden Girls are either very young or in fact in their golden years.
In addition to these findings, we have noticed 3 new things that may be correlated to the new food!
- There has been a slight uptick in egg production! What this means for Aurora is more revenue and cookies from our neighbors in trade for eggs.
- The eggshells are stronger! The neighbor bringing us cookies for eggs commented on how hard they were to crack open. “Yeah, because they’re more nutritious!” Our little entrepreneur explained.
- The Golden Girls are not looking nearly as scraggly as they were when we first got them. This is definitely because of the care we have given them, but I believe that their diet can also be attributed to their wellness.
60 Day Update
I didn’t see a drop in egg production over the winter months. My hypothesis is that their diet has helped. I’m looking forward to seeing if they continue to lay at an even pace throughout the winter. Hopefully, production will increase as we get more sunlight, but if it doesn’t I am still thrilled with how far they have come since changing their diet to
Purina’s Organic Layer Food.
In addition to the uptick in egg production, their feathers are looking great, they seem to be happy with their lifestyle and diet. They happily come running to be fed. My favorite part of having chickens is having them happily cluck and scratch around. For me their happiness is infectious. The enterprising children of the house continue to love them. They are refining their abilities to crack eggs now that they have eggs with firm, healthy shells. Bruce the “pugadore” is continuing to improve socially. These girls seem to have it made.
Follow along with your own chickens. All you need are a few laying hens! Sign up for the challenge and you’ll receive a digital feed coupon and downloadable material to help you through the 90 days of the Feed Greatness® Challenge. In addition, Team Purina will be available during your journey via email, telephone or social media to assist you with any inquiries. We’ll be sharing our journey through the Mother Earth News Facebook and Instagram. Chicken keeping will be more fun when you share your experience with Purina’s chicken community!