Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Does pasture quality affect egg quantity?

Eggs on pastureOur 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 their productivity.

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 forest pasture (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.

Chickens on pastureI've got a few avenues to explore with the pasture productivity question.  First, I suspect that I'm 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.

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