Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘cotswold legbar’

First foray into farm gate sales

Our Cotswold Legbar chickens are pretty much all laying their lovely pastel blue eggs daily now. With ten of the Cotswold Legbar chickens as well as our two Blackrocks (Monica and Rachel) we’ve got something of an egg surplus. So this weekend we started our first foray into the world of farm gate sales. Popularity of farm gate sales seems to vary around the country. Where we are in South Lincolnshire it seems to be fairly popular and as you drive around the area most of the villages seem to have at least one roadside stall selling a variety of home grown vegetables and produce; with an honesty box for your cash. Of course if you don’t feel confident using an honesty box you can always direct buyers to call at the door. The downside to that approach being the need to be available. We’re out and about quite a lot so decided to try out the honesty box approach.

Chris has constructed a sturdy roofed stall and we’ve got an old chest of drawers that we use to store the eggs and any other produce, this is moveable so we don’t have to carry the whole lot in and out each night.

As well as the eggs we’ve put some of my willow Christmas wreaths out on the stall. After a bit of local research we’ve priced the eggs at £1.50 and the wreaths at £3.50. We’ve attached an A4 sheet just explaining that the eggs are from Blackrock and Cotswold Legbar chickens and of course stating the use by date. Our honesty box is an old biscuit tin screwed to the shelf and with a hole cut in the lid to out the cash in.

We’re not really on the beaten track but are on the outskirts of a small hamlet so we’ll have to see how sucessfull our farm gate stall is.

Here are some pictures of the stall.

If you’are planning to sell your eggs or any other produce at the farm gate check out DEFRA / trading standards for the latest regulations. As a very brief guide you need to make sure the following points are covered.

  • Don’t split / grade your eggs into sizes. We’ve put ours in a large egg tray and provided new boxes for customers to fill themselves.
  • Eggs should be clean but not washed and not cracked or damaged in any way.
  • Display a best before date. Eggs are expected to last 4 weeks and are usually sold in the first week after laying so displaying a sign stating best before 3 weeks from date of purchase will keep you within the law.
  • Display a clear price and directions for how you want customers to pay.

If you want to sell your eggs anywhere else apart from the farm gate other rules and regulations apply. Again DEFRA and trading standards will have the up to date requirments.

Blue Saturday

Just a quick post to announce our Cotswold Legbar chickens have laid their first blue shelled egg !

I haven’t identified which of the ten has laid, but hopefully this will be the first of many. Although, I expect a slow start because at this time of year with the short nights egg laying tends to tail off a bit. Randomly the egg was in Monica and Rachel’s coop and in recent weeks I have found some of Monica and Rachel’s eggs in the hen ark so they are obviously sharing their accomodation.

The egg is a very light blue but I’m not sure how well it’ll show up in the picture (but it is blue honest).

The colouring of the egg shell is down to genetics rather than enviromental factors such as what the chicken eats. Our Cotswold Legbar chickens are hybrids, so not a pure breed, and have been developed to lay blue eggs but in greater quantities than the pure breeds that lay blue eggs such as the Cream legbar and Araucana.

Genetic science is never simple and characteristics are often the result of an interplay of several genes as well as the environemnt and therefore can be difficult to predict. However, when it comes to egg colour there are a few known genetic rules. Firstly that colour of the egg is sex linked and that the father is the most important determinant for the colour of eggs produced by the next generation. Secondly the blue egg colour of the Araucana is dominant, so when crossed with another breed the female offspring will always lay blue or tinted eggs.

Despite these known rules there are many more unknown factors. When it comes to blue eggs there are other genetic factors that may need to be considered. The blue pigment is synthesised by the liver and of course there will be a natural variation in the speed of this process between chickens. The number of eggs laid or rate of lay is another process with a natural variation, and as the pigment is added gradually throughout the formation of the egg shell, the natural variation in these two processes will result in differing intensity of blue egg colouring.

Now the nights are really drawing in we’ll probably have a bit more of a wait to see how blue the eggs of our ten Cotswold Legbars are and whether we have any genetic flukes that lay pink or pastel coloured eggs but fingers crossed next spring we’ll have a regular supply of pretty pastel shelled eggs.

3-1=2 Geese but….. 2+10=12 Chickens

Well it looks like the adventurous goose with the wander lust is well and truly gone. We did wonder if she had ventured onto the farm next door but our neighbour hasn’t seen any sign of her. We couldn’t find any signs of fox or other predator attack so it does look like she’s decided to explore south Lincolnshire.

We do have some other new arrivals though. We’ve decided to increase the chicken flock and I fancied trying some blue egg layers. So ten Cotswold Legbars arrived today. We got them from Legbars of Broadway who were very helpful here’s the link : http://www.legbarsofbroadway.co.uk/

There are some rare breed poultry that lay blue eggs, most notably the Cream Legbar and in the future I hope to have a small flock of rare breed poultry but the current flock are for egg laying and the rare breeds don’t lay as prolifically. Hopefully our egg laying flock will support our rare breed flock. If it doesn’t work out quite like that, well it’s a good excuse for me to have more chickens.

The new ladies are quite young so won’t be laying yet. We’ve got them in their own temporary pen within the current chicken area. They can see Monica and Rachel our resident Hooters Hall Blackrocks but we’ll let them get used to each other before letting them mix. The Cotswold Legbars have a lovely new chicken ark but tonight they’ve decided to sleep in a massive pile just outside the ark. They are well protected by electric fence so they should be fine.

It was a bit dark to take pictures tonight and at the moment it’s still dark when I leave for work (6am !) so you’ll have to wait until the weekend for some pictures.

Here’s hoping we’ll have some coloured eggs like these in the future.