Saturday, January 31, 2015

Keeping Track of Egg Production

If you keep your chickens to lay eggs rather than as pets, you probably want to keep track of how many eggs they're laying.  You probably also want to keep track of how much food, grit, etc. they're eating and how quickly they need their bedding replaced so you can calculate how much each dozen eggs is costing you.  And if you're shameless nerds like we are, you might want to put everything into a spreadsheet that automatically tracks production and costs.

Today we wanted to share our system for tracking chicken data in case any of you might find it useful or have suggestions for how to improve it.  So, without further adieu, here is EggSpreadsheet.xlsx, version 1.0, (kindly hosted by OpenDrive).

This is the general layout.  To use it, just make an 'x' in each cell corresponding to which dates each chicken lays an egg.  Up on top, input your costs for feed, grit, etc. The part in the upper left counts how many eggs each bird laid and the total (for the most recent seven-day period and since the beginning), and calculates the cost per dozen based on your inputs.  It doesn't include the bedding costs for now because the bedding works double duty as garden fertilizer once we compost it.  The part to the lower right tallies up each bird's egg count for each week and puts it into a graph so you can track the cycle.

The trends are kind of interesting.  The open symbols correspond to times when we weren't around to collect eggs forthe whole week, and we didn't want to rope our chicken-care volunteers into our goofy data collection experiment. From the left, the eggs/week started increasing as more chickens reached laying age until mid-November, when production started to fall off, probably with the decrease in day length.  Then the chickens went on a tear in mid-December before shutting it down for most of January.  But this last week shows a real up-tick again, so we better get ready!  We're not sure why the big boost in mid-December, but they seem to lay more when they're outside more and the weather is warmer. 

Also, our Ameraucana was a real good layer up until two days before the day length dropped below 10 hours (November 18), then she didn't lay a single egg until last week, two days after the day length crossed the 10-hour threshold again (January 24).  Now she's laid five in the last week.  That's consistency!

Since we don't always fire up the spreadsheet computer every day, we made a non-electronic version on the chalkboard in our kitchen that we have to walk past to put the eggs in the fridge.  That makes it way easier to remember things day-to-day.  Now, as long as we update the computer spreadsheet once a week, we'll have data as accurate as our immediate guesses as to which egg belongs to which chicken.

In other chicken-related news, our well-traveled, but previously injured, Rhode Island Red has rejoined the flock.  She let us know she was fully recovered by escaping from her tote, making messes around the house, and eating our newly-sprouted avocado tree.  Also, we've been trying to figure out what type of chicken Big Chip is.  She was a mystery bird (a.k.a. 'free rare breed') from McMurray Hatchery that looks like a Partridge Rock in terms of coloring and size (she kept pace with the Pioneer meat birds last spring), but her comb isn't quite the same, and she was a chipmunk-striped chick, which Rocks typically aren't (nor are they a 'rare breed').  Any ideas?  Maybe a mutt from their top secret 'new meat breed' program?


How do you keep track of your egg production and costs?  Let us know in the comments section below!



4 comments:

  1. Very pretty girls! Love the names! To answer your question. ...I used good old graph paper, each girl had her own line. It is kind of fun and interesting to see the patterns that they have. Also I wanted to mention that when we're gone their laying drops off. So perhaps your girls do the same? It's probably related to a change in the way they are cared for. ..but I like to think they missed me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually we thought your graph paper looked pretty slick, so we tried to model the spreadsheet off of it. :-)

      They do seem to drop off when we're gone! Our chicken-sitters when we were home for Christmas said there were only a few. Of course, that was also a cold, dark couple weeks, so maybe it wasn't just that they missed us.

      Delete
  2. I'm most curious about how you can tell the eggs of each chicken apart (back when we had 12 chickens we had four different egg colors but now we're down to 6 chickens and 2 colors). We just keep a small calendar on the fridge, marking the total for the day. I also keep receipts for feed, etc, and then just make a grand tally at the end of the year. Your way is much more slick, but, oh dear, my Excel skills are not such that I can even use the pre-prepared spreadsheet to join in the fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sweetgum,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      There's definitely some guesswork involved in the egg identification, but most have some unique characteristic to distinguish from the others. The Ameraucana is blue, so that one's easy. The RIR usually has white speckles, the Red Star lays bigger eggs than any of the others, the Wyandotte is smaller and differently shaped.

      Do you have any suggestions to make the spreadsheet more user-friendly? We're always looking to improve our stuff!

      Delete