Ask Alice: What do you mean when you say ‘banking for chickens’?

Posted on 06. Feb, 2016 by in Ask Alice

Q:  What do you mean when you say ‘banking for chickens’?

A:  It’s a figure of speech, but it works pretty well.

Egg-onomics 101 – Banking for Chickens

We probably don’t think of it as a paycheck, but that is how our hens regard that feed we set out for them every day.

Each hen takes that feed into the bank (her body) and deposits it into one of two accounts.  We do well to think of the first as a hen account that pays her living expenses first.  It pays for maintenance.

The second account, not unlike that savings account you may have if you are so fortunate as to make more than enough to pay the bills, is an egg account.

After your hen has paid her expenses from the hen account, the profit is deposited into the egg account.  If her feed doesn’t pay her a living wage, she simply won’t transfer the funds for egg-making.  She will put herself first.

So if it is eggs that you want, know that egg account accepts only certain kinds of currency.  Only currency essential for the production of eggs can be deposited there.

Eggs are made up of fats and certain amino acids.  So if your hen’s paycheck includes extra amino acids (high quality protein), more than she need for her own body’s maintenance, she will take it to the bank and transfer it into her egg account.  If she receives extra fat she can either use it for living expenses or move it into her egg account.  If the fat waits too long in the egg account because she doesn’t need it for eggs, she will deposit the extra fat onto her body. Carbohydrates are mostly used for her own maintenance and fat building, so if your hen eats them all day long without enough protein she’ll just get fat. It’s like trying to live on Doritos.

Since eggs are intended to make chicks, the proteins eggs need are made up of certain amino acids.   Among these amino acids are lysine and methionine, which are invested in the egg account until the hen achieves the minimum balance required to make an egg.

If your hen doesn’t have enough of the essential amino acids (protein pieces) to make an egg, she will save until she does have them. Depending on her paycheck, she may go a long while before she lays another egg, or maybe she will give you an egg every day.  It all depends on the minimum balance in her egg account.  Your hen is on a budget.  Each egg needs about 1.5 grams of lysine and about.7 grams of methionine.  If there is that much in the egg account waiting to be used, she’ll make an egg.  If there isn’t, she will wait until she saves enough.

It’s a simple yet elegant system that keeps the hen from over-drawing her account and starving herself balanced with the production of the maximum eggs she can afford to build.  Our job, as the hen’s employer, is to make sure she is paid with enough good quality ingredients to make sure there is always a positive balance in the egg account.  Then we will be using her talents efficiently and allowing her to do her job, making breakfast.

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