My buddy Toinette Madison, director of the Boone County Heritage Museum, recently ran across a newspaper article from the July 22, 1927, issue of the Harrison Times about a record-breaking egg-laying hen from Northwest Arkansas. Toinette shared the article with me because, well, how could you not want to share a story about a champion hen named “Lady Lindy”—the nickname given back in the day to aviator Amelia Earhart.
A single-comb white Leghorn, Lady Lindy was the 1927 winner of the 13th Egg Laying Contest sponsored by the University of Arkansas College of Agriculture’s Experiment Station in Fayetteville. Her owner was William Curry, owner of Inglenook Farm in the Benton County town of Gentry.
The Harrison Times proclaimed Lady Lindy’s heroic achievement:
If, like me, you’re not acquainted with the biology of egg-laying, this feat may not seem very impressive. But consider this from Extension.org:
A hen can lay only one egg in a day and will have some days when it does not lay an egg at all. The reasons for this laying schedule relate to the hen reproductive system. A hen’s body begins forming an egg shortly after the previous egg is laid, and it takes 26 hours for an egg to form fully. So a hen will lay later and later each day. Because a hen’s reproductive system is sensitive to light exposure, eventually the hen will lay too late in a day for its body to begin forming a new egg. The hen will then skip a day or more before laying again.
In other words, back when Lady Lindy was pushing out an egg a day (from February 15 to July 13, 1927), she was doing it without artificial light to trick her into thinking the days were longer, which would have prompted our home girl to produce more eggs.
The chow fed to the 150 hens entered in the contest was made up of what appears to be natural ingredients (perhaps with the exception of “Otona”—I’ve been unable to track down what that stuff is):
The feeding ration used in the contest is known as the Arkansas feeding ration and was developed by [UA professor of animal industry] S. R. Stout. It is as follows:
100 pounds bran
100 pounds wheat shorts
100 pounds Otona
100 pounds yellow corn meal
50 pounds meat scraps
3 pounds fine table salt
20 pounds cracked corn
100 pounds whole wheat
All the buttermilk they can drink in the forenoon, and water thereafter. The daily feeding schedule followed by J. D. Porterfield, feeder and caretaker, consists of a crumbly mash fed at 11:30 a. m., one-third grain feed in the morning, and two-thirds in the afternoon. Germinated oats supplies green food. This is fed at 1:30 each day.
The laying schedule was carefully monitored. Lady Lindy did it like this:
Lady Lindy, at the beginning of her record run in February, laid at 8:30 each morning for about 60 days. For a few days thereafter she laid somewhat later and then returned to the earlier hour again. After a while she began laying around noon getting later each day until July 12 when she laid at 2 o’clock and July 13 when she laid at 3 o’clock. At times during her record run she laid earlier than on preceding days.
Sorry to say, Lady Lindy’s fame was fleeting. On September 26, 1927, the National Egg Layers Association announced a new world champion egg-layer: “Lady Amco” (also a white Leghorn; also known as “Babe Ruth”) of Norfolk, Nebraska, who laid 173 eggs in as many days.