GAY abandon is the tone of life in the farm yard and home paddocks.

After three months of being confined to their hen huts because of the avian flu scare, the poultry have been running riot since they gained their freedom.

The cockerels can at last view, assess and act on their natural instincts to ravage any female fowl in sight. All day long they have been racing between hens determined to make up for lost time.

By night time they were limping from one ravage to the next and no doubt just relieved to be shut up in the hen huts for the night.

But it has not all been pleasure unconfined in the paddocks. From laying scarcely any eggs at all during their incarceration, the hens have gone into overdrive on the production front.

During the egg famine I have been lucky enough to be provided with any amount of eggs from a friend who has a commercial egg production business. Thousands of eggs are laid at their farm every day, but not all measure up to the precise requirements of their customers, so there are always any number of eggs that are misshapen or the wrong size to meet commercial needs.

Nothing wrong with the eggs, though. They taste just as delicious if they have a wrinkled end or are too large or too small for packaging.

Although these chickens are not caged and have free access to huge barns to scrat around in, they never see the light of day. This does not impact on their well being, though.

They live pampered and unharrassed by the need to forage for their food. And unlike our hens who lay according to the length of daylight hours, and therefore do not lay prolifically in the winter, these barn hens have the same hours of light, artificially provided, every day. So they lay virtually all year round.

Which is why, when our hens who have been deprived of natural light for these last months are suddenly given access to daylight and sunshine, they have gone into overdrive on the egg laying front.

It is noticeable how the deep orange of the eggs from our free range hens, contrasts with the paler yellow of the barn hens.

Many commercial flocks have a colour additive in their feed which tints the yolks to a richer hue, but the hens we have been having eggs from are not laying for market buyers, but are rather pharmaceutical eggs, intended for use in flu vaccine production.

So the colour of the yolks is not either a cosmetic or commercial requirement. Just the fact they are fertile eggs is sufficient.

And if you were looking for potentially fertile eggs our hens would be able to supply them in abundance. Head down scratting around for a juicy worm has become a dangerous position for our ladies. It means being unable to spot the thundering approach of a sex-starved cockerel. Ah well. Brisk shake of the tail feathers. Unruffle and search out the next victim. Hens that is I mean; not worms.