Eggs in December


Eggs in December. These days, no one ever thinks how odd that is. Before electric lights, eggs in December were like tomatoes in December. Stop any one in the street and ask, “Are eggs a seasonal food like fruits and vegetables?” The idea that eggs are seasonal sounds absurd. No matter what time of year you go to a supermarket, you will see carton after carton of eggs.

Yet, egg laying hens are sensitive to the amount of daylight. As the days shorten in late summer and fall, their egg production drops. In December and January, the hens here lay only a sixth to a fifth of the eggs they do in spring and summer. The number of eggs the hens lay starts to increase in February, and by March, they really go into overdrive.

The way the large egg producers keep egg production up year round, is by keeping laying hens bathed in artificial light. They also don’t keep laying hens very long, from 18 to 24 months. Then the hens are done with. A hen is born with all the eggs she will ever produce. You can either get her to lay all those eggs as quickly as possible using artificial light, or let her take her time laying her eggs over a longer period of time.

Which makes you wonder how it is that year round, we are able to buy most any type of produce in supermarkets. None of it comes out of thin air. Someone has to plant it, tend to it, and pick it. Here is an interesting article as to how much of the fresh produce in our stores is produced: Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for U.S. tables

One Reply to “Eggs in December”

  1. I have only 3 hens laying now. I have ducks too, so I do get eggs from them during the winter months. I would never think to force a bird to lay, I honor their resting periods. Whether through just the winter months, or due to a molt. It makes me angry to think of the exploitation and suffering of hens exposed to daylight for months and months and months. In the spring I will have a ridiculous amount of eggs, and we’ll sell them in the neighborhood. For now, I’ll enjoy savoring the slow down, being excited when I have enough eggs for a frittata, looking forward to the surplus so I can hard boil eggs. It’s about respecting those who feed us.

Leave a Reply