A flock which genuinely thrives on pasture and lives outside of any confinement, will instinctually respond to all four seasons, lay eggs cyclically and enter respite from production because of two annual events; Molting and Winter Solstice. A Molting Hen sheds her old feathers for fluffy new ones to prepare for Winter, utilizing protein to generate new feathers versus eggs. Truly pasture-raised Floridian hens respond to their innate cycles regardless of Florida’s balmy Winters. Then, the Earth tilts at Winter Solstice and with shorter daylight, our hens commence their “vacation” by not laying eggs. They become Ladies of Leisure lounging in warmer spots on the pasture, dirt bathing and napping more frequently. Even the roosters instinctually know the hens are on sabbatical so their cockiness slows down!
In nature (and on our farm), soil and livestock cycle thru a period of respite and respond to seasonal patterns. Our pastured hen’s eye takes her cue from the sun which stimulates her photoreceptive glands to generate her egg ergo less sunlight means less or zero eggs. So, if a pastured hen in the Sunshine State natively stops producing, where does the stockpile of eggs come from this time of year? Many “farm eggs” come from hens tricked into laying 24/7/365 under artificial lights or are fed ovary stimulating feed causing acidic organs, stressed reproductive systems and a shortened life span. To keep egg sales consistent many “farms” buy pullets from the replacement-hen-industry; third parties raising de-beaked chicks in confinement to pullet-age which are sold off just before the first laying cycle. After one year of maximum egg yield, the spent flock is then typically sold to processors.
We don’t feed manufactured garbagé, de-beak, confine nor tinker with our flock’s innate system to make eggs sales 24/7/365. Instead, we practice husbandry methods allowing the flock to thrive innately because we know in due-season the reward is nutrient-dense eggs and a content frolicking flock for years to come. Let’s enjoy eggs like our grandparents did; in-season, sustainably and by standards most beneficial to our health and the flock’s welfare.