Hens are trying to adjust to weather changes and eggs are in short supply while they do.
Many people expect to read "Free Range", "Cage Free", "Vegetarian" "All Natural" or "Organic" when inquiring about farm eggs. Careful reading on what these labels actually mean have lead us to the conclusion that we would prefer to explain our method of raising. You would be surprised how different the meaning is from what you may think. For information about those labels follow the Humane Society link below.
Our hens not only live here but many of them have been hatched here, and all have been raised here. There first few weeks are always spent as close to the house as possible. On a more than few occations they have even made there way inside for a few days. Once we feel they are ready they move out to the coup, safe from predators this is where they are kept until they reach laying age. While in the coup they transition from chick feed to a diet of primarily Corn, Oats and Fresh Vegetables, learn to drink from drip waters and grow together as a flock. The older they get the more they venture out and by the time they are 2 years old no longer even visit the coup. Instead they can be found helping with pests and weed control in the garden or underfoot at feeding time to get a handful of corn or a few pieces of zucchini (They prefer it to squash!).
Most of our current and all up and coming layers are Rhode Island Reds, but we also still have some older sexlink hens from before we made the switch running about. They might not fit into the current program but they are good old girls that have served us well, so as long as they are willing and able they get to roam freely about the farm.
I have read that some Farmers have hens that go outside and then come back in the Coupe to lay their eggs. We are not so lucky. On our farm it is more like a daily game of hide and seek. Ours tend to find a spot that they all like and then lay there a few days until someone gets annoyed with us taking their eggs and then we get to spend the day finding their new spot.
I have also read that some Farmers have hens that coupe themselves at night. Again they are luckier than we are. The idea of letting them loose each morning and then getting all of them into a coupe every night seems an impossibility to me. Our chickens seem to prefer to find their own roosting spots. This is not to say that we never coupe them once they reach laying age. Sometimes, despite our preference, it can't be helped. We have the cutest little family of fox that live nearby. For the most part they stay out in the field far away from our chickens, but a few times a year they find their way up. How a fox can be so cute and still so destructive is beyond me, still I am a firm believer that destroying any animal should be a last resort. Faulting a fox for being a fox seems unfair. So when they show up we have found that keeping the hens in the coup for a couple of weeks keeps them safe and with the food source cut off the fox go back to hunting in the field.
Our hens are not debeaked, not declawed, never starved. They also are not vegetarians (they most definitely eat grasshoppers). What they are is an important and valuable part of our farm and are always treated as such.