Better Hens-a-Laying

Almost exactly 6 months to the day after our first newborn chick hatched at Better Farm, the "babies" have begun to lay... green eggs!

The barred rock/ameraucana/leghorn hybrids bear the black-and-white markings of a flock of barred rocks, host flecks of color on their shoulder blades and tails we've never seen before, and lay eggs that you'd think came from ameraucanas. Photos of these beauties to come... as soon as some of this wintry wind and snow subsides!

These mutts had quite a coming-of-age in one of the wildest winters in recent memory; but our girls (and boy!) are survivors. To be expected, since their heritage dates back to a bunch of leghorns we rescued from an egg factory, one particularly resilient ameraucana named Destiny's Child, several barred rocks we raised from infancy, and two extremely prolific roosters called Big Mama and Kiwi.

Got a backyard flock you'd like to get eggs from all winter? Remember these important tips:
  • Egg-laying is a calories game. In winter, chickens burn a ton of calories just to stay warm. And without the ability to forage, it's up to you to up the amount of calories they consume. We like to add cracked corn to the mix in order to beef our birds up; we also give them almost twice the amount of food.
  • Keep your coops clean! We clean our coops at least once a week throughout the year. During the coldest parts of winter, we might forego a weekly cleaning in favor of adding more bedding to the coops for extra insulation.
  • Keep the birds hydrated. Chickens need plenty of fresh water during waking hours (we don't recommend having water inside the coop, as you don't want the additional humidity and potential spill). In Redwood, we defrost waterers throughout the day to ensure a steady supply.
Got a question about keeping backyard birds? Send us an email at

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.