The good news is that the egg shortage is coming to an end! Our new flock has started laying, and the number of eggs we collect each day is ramping up quickly. By the end of the week, we should have plenty of eggs in the farm store each day with no fear of running out! Whew! Finally the shortage is over!
But why were we running out of eggs? After chatting with enough people at the farm, and answering their questions about the shortage, I realized it could be helpful to shed some light on our farming processes, and what happened to lead to this situation.
Each year in late April/early May we get a new flock of over 1,200 laying hens. Typically these hens (also called Pullets), are about 16 weeks old and are approaching the age at which they begin laying their first tiny eggs (called Pullet eggs!). Our hens are a breed that begin laying eggs at a fairly young age and lay A LOT of eggs their first year. Each hen produces roughly an egg per day at the peak of their maturity - actually more like 5-6 eggs a week. As the hens get older, usually around a year to a year-and-a-half, their egg laying slows down, the egg shells get thinner, lighter in color and are larger in size (which is why this time of year even our regular eggs are extra large).
Normally by the time the old flock is getting tired, our new flock has arrived and is beginning to lay eggs so it takes the pressure off of the old flock to keep up with demand! The timing works out so that the pullets start laying as the old flock slows down, and we have eggs consistently year round. This year, however, we couldn’t get our pullets from the breeder that raises them until about a month later than usual. There was a shortage of breeder flocks for our breed and so we had to wait until they could acquire enough eggs to hatch the chicks that would become our new flock. This led to a gap where our new flock was too young and wasn’t laying yet, but the old flock’s egg production had slowed way down.
In farming, you try to plan and organize your systems so that you can get the product you want, when you want and need it. But sometimes you come up against the fact that you’re working with nature, and nature doesn’t always lend itself to being managed. You can’t always get exactly the animal that you want, and you can’t make a chicken start laying before it’s ready. You are captive to the bounds of biology - it’s not like ordering industrial components or stuff from Amazon. Still, we do our best to meet the demand for our products while farming in a way that is sustainable and healthy for the land, the animals and our customers.
So now that our new hens are laying, we encourage folks to try the pullet eggs! They are small, but are also the best eggs we have each year. The egg yolks and whites are extremely firm and tasty and are easily poached. Chefs love to work with our pullet eggs, and they are great to use on salads and on top of dishes as an accent. Small, but tasty! Within a few weeks the hens will continue to grow as they mature and so will their egg size. So while we will have a lot of pullet eggs in the next few weeks, gradually we will have more and more regular sized eggs available as well.
If you have any questions or comments about the brief egg shortage, or anything else, drop us a line! In the meantime, look forward in the near future to plenty of fresh pullet eggs in the store - but get them soon, because in a few weeks they’ll have grown to normal-sized eggs. We also have a great supply of all of our meats, and a rapidly growing selection of our own Codman grown veggies and vegetarian items in the store! Fresh chickens will be available all summer (schedule here), and even our own fresh fruit (coming soon: currants!). Thanks for your support of Codman, and as always you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!