Our hens left me a nice birthday present on Sunday. We started these in early April as newborn chicks, and have carried them through raccoon attacks and other trials to finally start earning their keep.
These are true free-range eggs, as the hens live with the goats and have full run of the area, eating whatever insects and ticks they can find as well as a fair amount of kitchen scraps, spoiled tomatoes, and so on. You can see the quality in the deep yellow color of the yolks, which comes from the natural proteins of the free-range diet. Predominately grain-fed eggs tend to be much paler.
The four remaining hens should give about the right production for our own use; we have yet to decide whether to start more next year or stick with our current numbers for a year. We’re still culling our overpopulation of roosters, with the goal of keeping just one or two for the winter. The others become very tasty free-range meat.