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Nesting but no eggs...

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I've got a few questions.

 

I've got a mixed flock, types and ages.

 

My babies are silkies, 4 months old.  I think they are all pullets.  No one has shown themselves to be a roo, but I would not mind if one was.  There are 5 of these.

 

My next set of 3 are 6 months old.  I've gotten a couple of small brown eggs from them so far.  Issue I have is they alternately spend a lot of time during the day in the nesting boxes with no eggs produced.  Is this normal? Not sure of their breed, all black.

 

My next are unknown age.  I got them from a lady who could no longer take care of them.  There are 2 barred rocks, a Dominque, and an all brown one.  I know the brown one is laying eggs, I've caught her in the nesting box and waited.  Nice big brown eggs.  She likes the nesting box with the golf ball in it.  One of the others is laying as well as I've gotten 2 large brown eggs in one day.  Need to find a rooster for them.

 

Next, from the same lady, I have 2 ferals (I am in Hawaii and these are common).  One just announced he is a rooster.  My question is should I separate these two from the others?  I don't want him mating with my older ladies.  I won't begrudge their eggs or chicks, but don't want to mix the breeds, if that is even possible.  I'm guessing these are about 4 months old since Junior has just found his voice.

 

Thanks for any insight.

 

Juli

post #2 of 4

Welcome to BYC!

 

Young chickens or those thinking about going broody will spend a good chunk of time in the nest boxes. It is a safe and cozy place where they can avoid other birds. 

 

As for the rooster if you don't want mixed babies just don't let them brood the eggs. If you get another rooster you can always separate out the feral roo.

Homesteading on a 6 acre hobby farm in Southern Wisconsin. Raising a gifted child, A barnyard mix of chickens, Icelandic sheep, A sweet elderly pitty bull, a few barn cats, and a large garden.  

 

 

History Geek- Medieval reenactment, fiber arts and cooking, and natural architectural nut.

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Homesteading on a 6 acre hobby farm in Southern Wisconsin. Raising a gifted child, A barnyard mix of chickens, Icelandic sheep, A sweet elderly pitty bull, a few barn cats, and a large garden.  

 

 

History Geek- Medieval reenactment, fiber arts and cooking, and natural architectural nut.

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post #3 of 4

"Playing house", as I like to call it, in the nest boxes, even to the point of making a huge mess, is normal behavior which precedes onset of laying. The pullets are getting familiar with the nests, and when the time comes to lay, they will be more apt to lay in the proper place.

 

When I see the nesting material flung far and wide, even though there are no eggs, I'm thrilled because I know eggs are not far behind.

 

As far as taking precautions necessary to assure there's no interbreeding, like Paganrose says, just don't brood the eggs. When I want to have eggs from a certain breed, I put that hen with that rooster each day for a few hours and then save her eggs until there are enough to hatch.

 

The key is to segregate the roosters so they don't have an opportunity to fertilize the eggs of other breeds, but you only need to do this for the few weeks prior to brooding or incubating a clutch of eggs.

 

Oh, and hens don't "need" a rooster for anything other than to fertilize eggs. In the absence of a rooster, a flock of hens only will have one of their own lead the flock. There are thousands of hens only flocks and they are quite content.

post #4 of 4
You’ve been getting good advice. Breed is a manmade thing. Chickens don’t recognize breed when it comes to hens and roosters so yes, different breeds or mixed breeds can interbreed. But chicks are not produced unless the eggs are incubated.

A little info that might help you manage breeding. It takes about 25 hours for an egg to go through the hen’s internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Thursday, Thursday’s egg is not fertile. There is a chance Friday’s egg could be but don’t count on it. Saturday’s egg should be fertile.

When chickens mate, the last thing the hen does after the rooster hops off is to stand up, fluff up, and shake. This fluffy shake gets the sperm into a special container in the hen’s body. The sperm normally stays viable in there for two weeks before it starts to drop off in quality, but sometimes it can stay viable for over three weeks. If you want to assure which rooster is the father you need to separate the hen from any rooster you do not want chicks from for at least three weeks, preferably four weeks.

The hen’s internal egg making factory is fairly complex with a lot of different parts. Most pullets get it right when they start to lay but it’s not that unusual for a pullet to take a few days to work some of the kinks out. That includes behaviors as well as eggs. Don’t be too surprised to see strange eggs or strange behaviors when pullets start to lay. Still, it’s pretty common behavior about a week before a pullet starts to lay that they check out possible nests. When they check them out there is often scratching involved. You might find nesting material on the floor of the coop. If they are cleaning out the nests of all nesting material you might want to raise the lip a bit so they don’t scratch so much out, but checking out the nests is a good sign.

Some people confuse cockerels and pullets with hens and roosters. Hens and roosters are mature adults and normally settle into a nice calm peaceful flock. Pullets and cockerels are not mature. Pullets normally mature later (probably about the time they start to lay though some wait a bit later) and really don’t know what is going on. They are confused and often run away from situations.

With cockerels there is no schedule. Some mature faster, some really slowly. Their hormones are running wild and they just don’t have any self-control. They are going to be bigger than pullets their age and probably bigger than mature hens so they can sometimes get away with using force. Sometimes a hen has such a strong personality that she can beat up on a cockerel that’s bothering her even if he is bigger. It can get pretty wild down there when cockerels go through this adolescent phase. It’s not always something for the faint of heart to watch if they are not used to it.

If you can get through this phase they normally eventually settle down into adults, but in the meantime you might want to have a separate facility ready where you can imprison some cockerels until they grow up some. I find having a separate place where you can isolate a few chickens from the main flock can really come in handy at different times for different reasons. If you are going to be managing breeding you’ll need something like this anyway.

Good luck! Having chickens can be a fun ride but sometimes you have to hold into your seat.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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