Eggs – Nature’s Perfect Food

Eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods. They are extremely nutrient dense and very versatile. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner or snacks. Anyway you crack them, eggs will deliver you the best source of protein you can find.

Eggs contain all the essential amino acids needed by the human body. Both the yolk and the albumen (the white part) contain the protein, however there is a bit more protein in the white part. Eggs contain all the important vitamins with the exception of vitamin C. They contain all the B vitamins, and are particularly rich in vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin), folate, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E. Eggs also contain many of the minerals needed by the human body, especially iodine. Iodine is required to make the thyroid hormones. Eggs also contain phosphorus which is required for bone health. They also contain selenium, zinc, and iron.

There are many different types of eggs, brown, white, jumbo, small… how do you know what kind to buy? Believe it or not, the shell color has nothing to do with the nutritional quality of the eggs. The eggshell color is determined by the breed of the hen. Some hens lay white eggs, some lay brown and some even lay green eggs! Hens that lay the brown eggs tend to be a larger breed, so the eggs usually sell for a greater price since it costs more to feed these hens.

The color of the yolk depends on what the hen has been given to eat. Corn feed hens tend to produce a darker yolk, while wheat fed hens produce a lighter yellow yolk. The color of the yolk does not alter the nutritional value of the egg. The yolk has most of the vitamins in it, while the white past carries most of the protein. Eggs come in all kinds of sizes from small to extra large. Most recipes call for large eggs so it’s good to have these on hand.

The quality and freshness of the eggs is determined by its’ grading. Only grade A eggs are sold for consumption. Although they are graded A or AA, there is not much difference between the two. What to look for in eggs are the sell by date and how they are stored. You want them to be refrigerated. Also, always open the carton to see if any of the eggs are cracked.

Eggs are one of nature’s best foods. Don’t be afraid to eat them for any meal. Carry a couple hard boiled eggs with you for the perfect snack to keep your hunger at bay.

Egg Laying – Why A Chicken Won’t Lay Eggs

It is always concerning when our hens suddenly stop laying. The first sign of a problem for your girls is when they stop laying eggs. When chickens are lacking something they require egg production is the first thing their bodies shut down in order to make up for what it is lacking. Most of the time it’s an easy fix, is the coop clean? Are you feeding the proper food? Sometimes it could more complicated, are my babies sick or are the molting? Let’s take a look at the common issues and see what it takes to get the girls happy again.

Age:

Chickens have a lifespan of 7 years are in their prime for the first year or two of them laying eggs, after that production rapidly declines until the 4th or 5th year when they usually stop laying altogether. It usually best to replace the laying hen with a new one after their 3rd year of laying eggs.

Habitat:

Chickens are creatures of habit, sometimes the slightest change can throw them off. Moving your hens from one location to another, adding new features or space can stress out your girls. They will not start laying again until they feel relaxed and are comfortable again. Even a dirty pen or coop could throw them off, unsanitary conditions are the best way to for the birds to contract unwanted diseases, especially if the space is too small.

Food / Water:

A dehydrated chicken cannot produce eggs make sure there is always water available for your hens. Using the nipple drinkers help conserve water and keep the coop clean. To produce an egg your girls need a special diet of calcium and proteins. This type of feed is called “layer feed” and comes in many different varieties from different feed or pet stores. Chickens will overeat so monitor the feed based on the number of chickens.

Health:

Did the chicken go broody? A broody hen will not lay until she is done hatching her eggs. The girls won’t lay when they molt either. Molting is when the chickens are losing their feather due to changes in the weather. It’s the same as when a dog shed its fur, except the chicken sheds its feathers. Mites put a lot of strain on a hen’s body, she is miserable and won’t lay for you. A good sign your chicken is ill or not feeling well is her stance. If she is hunched over instead of standing up and perky she is not feeling well and has problems she probably needs help with.

Stress:

If a chicken is stressed she won’t lay, she needs to feel comfortable. Too many roosters can easily cause stress on your girls. Is there a predator around, is she fearful? Keep your girls happy safe and fed, and she provides you with many eggs to come. Some birds are better layers than others, like the Orpington Chicken that was bread for maximum laying capacity.

Raising Crickets for Pets or Pet Food

The chirping of a cricket can be very annoying to some. But to some it is music to their ears. That is, to another cricket or something looking for a meal. I personally find the chirping quite relaxing, especially on a warm summer’s night. The chirping makes me feel like everything is right with the world. If you feed crickets to your lizards or tortoises they can get quite expensive. Raising crickets is not hard at all and with a little work on your part they will give you plenty of crickets to feed your other pets.

The most common commercially available feeder cricket is the brown cricket namely the Acheta domestica. You can purchase your starter family from a pet store.The male is the one you will hear singing. He is usually singing to attract the female or to ward off another male. It is usually a good idea to have just three or four males in with your females. The females are the ones that look like they have a stinger. Don’t worry, they will not sting you. This is how they lay their eggs. This spear like appendage is called an ovipositor.

The housing for your crickets needs to be escape proof and well ventilated. You can purchase a ready made cricket house from a pet store or you can make one. It just depends on how much money you want to spend. Aquariums with screen tops can be used. How big an aquarium you use will depend on how many crickets you plan to house. I would go with the ten gallon ones, they are easier to move around and to clean.

Rubbermaid or other plastic storage containers also make good housing. Cut a square out of the lid. Use caution when doing this. I use a box knife to do this. Glue aluminum screen over the hole. I use aquarium sealer for this. If you use the aluminum screen you will be able to set a light over the hole to heat the house. I use patio lights with low watt light bulbs for this. You know, the cheap lights that you clip onto your eaves that you can purchase from a Walmart. Keep the temperature above 75 degrees.

The crickets will need places to climb and to hide. I use shredded newspaper or shredded paper. Old toilet paper or paper towel tubes can be used for hiding. The tubes make it easy to collect the crickets. You can just pick up the tube and shake it into a tall container.

The females will need a place to lay their eggs. I use a shallow container about 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches deep. It needs to stay damp. You can use vermiculite or peat moss. I keep an eye on the females, watching when they lay eggs. They stick their “stinger” or ovipositor into the vermiculite or peat moss. After several days of laying eggs, I take out the container and put it into a house setup just for the babies to hatch. Keep the containers warm and in about 7 to 10 days you should have babies.

You can purchase commercial cricket food from pet stores. You can also feed chicken egg laying mash. Greens such as turnip greens or dandelions are a good source of calcium. I put a potato cut in half to give them a water source. You will need to change the potato frequently so it doesn’t rot. I have also used a dish with cotton balls soaked in water. This method will also need to be changed frequently. If you use this method in the parent cricket house sometimes the females will lay their eggs in it. There is a product that is water crystals that can be used. These can be found in pet stores also.

I have had crickets lay eggs in with my Bearded Dragons and have hatched. I thought it was fun to watch the babies grow up. Crickets have been kept as pets in ancient Japan and China because of their chirping. They were considered good luck. Did you know that you can tell the temperature by how fast a cricket chirps? The faster they chirp the warmer the temperature.