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Failure to deveop

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to breed Sultans.  I've struggled now for about 6 months with first issues of the small flock of adults I bought having worms and a heavy infestation of mites.  Now they are back healthy again and I'm getting the occasional egg.  The problem I've seen so far is the majority of eggs do not seem to be fertile.  I haven't been cracking and checking before now, but I will.  I attributed it to the one hen who seems to lay most often is a half blind hen (she had a ingrown feather in her eye when I got her), she never leaves the coop willingly while the rooster rushes out in the mornings to be with the other hens.  So I've been bringing Trooper, the half blind hen, out to be with the rest of the flock to see if that works.

 

I had one egg which started getting veins and on day 4 formed a blood ring.  Bummer!

I now have another Sultan egg which is forming veins.  Hopefully this works better than the last..but anyway, I did crack a egg the other day since I feed my cockatiels and budgies the dud eggs and found the sultan egg had a little star on the yolk which I believe is fertile?  No blood in the egg and it was 5 days in the incubator when I pulled it as a clear.  It definitely had no development which a 5 days old egg should have had.

 

I've looked around at the fatal genes and can not find any that I think the Sultans have other than limited blood lines to begin with.  The only other thing "could" be my Mille Fleur Roo, but again if he can manage to top a hen and the Sultan Roo doesn't knock him off, there should still be no fatal genes that cause a egg to fail to develop or die early.  Am I missing something?

 

I've put my flock on game bird growth and plumage with gamebird/show bird vitamin pellets added several times a week.  Since the one blind hen was always in the coop at the food and was laying while the others foraged badly, I figured this made the most sense to encourage egg laying.  They also get dried meal worms, scrambled eggs and oatmeal mash and whatever else they can find.  They have free access to oyster shell and the egg shells are nice and solid.

 

Are there some fatal genes I'm missing?

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yellowherbs-swap-page

Everyone should have a Sultan in their flock

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http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yellowherbs-swap-page

Everyone should have a Sultan in their flock

Reply
post #2 of 5

There are several issues that come up here.

 

It is early in the breeding season, and fertility may not be as high now as it may be later in the season.

 

You obtained these birds as adults.  Why did the seller get rid of them?   Do you know how old they are?  If so, do you know that because you independently judged their age based on their general condition, or do you know their age only because the seller told you their age?  If just based on the seller's word, do you have confidence that you were given truthful information?  Many people sell their flock after the birds are past an ideal breeding age.  It doesn't mean that you won't get any fertile eggs -- it just means that fertile eggs are rare, and both early and late quitting is common in the incubator.

 

It sounds like the birds came to you in poor condition.  You can usually get rid of the parasites, but sometimes that's not the whole problem.  There are many viruses that can affect fertility, which may be a component in your situation.  These viruses can effect the number of eggs laid, the quality of egg shells (poor quality egg shells are more likely to develop blood rings), the fertility of the eggs, development of the fetus (so more early and late quitters), and the ability of the chick to hatch (so more fully developed chicks that can't get out of their shells).

 

Most chickens that are already in breeding condition should not be on gamebird growth diet (and if they're not already in breeding condition, you should expect fertility to be low).  Depending on the brand you're using, most gamebird growth diets are 24-30% protein, which can produce obesity in many chickens, especially bantams.  It is tempting to give more and more nutrition to a bird that isn't performing well.  However, if they aren't skinny, the extra nutrition can make them fat, and overweight birds have decreased fertility, so the extra nutrition might be making the problem worse.  Breeding birds need a balanced nutrition that is at a middle point between too little and too much, and need to be kept in a body condition that is a middle ground between too thin and too heavy.

 

If Trooper is blind in one eye because of an ingrown feather, then she may pass that characteristic on to some or all of her chicks.  That is a painful condition, and not one that is desirable to propagate.

 

Sometimes the first flock we get isn't the right one for breeding.  It introduces us to the breed, and may make us want more of them.  But that doesn't mean that is the flock we should use.  Sometimes our first flock has inheritable problems, or poor body shape, or bad temperaments, or in any number of ways not represent the breed well.  That doesn't mean that they aren't wonderful birds -- it just means that we should always breed the best quality birds we can afford to end up with the best quality chicks.  It does no good to breed birds that already have problems, as those problems will just pass forward to the next generations.  No one ever regrets good quality, or lack of problems.

Chance favors the prepared mind.

 

 

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Chance favors the prepared mind.

 

 

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post #3 of 5

In addition to the great info above, I'll add this...if you have more than one rooster, they may be so busy knocking each other off the hens neither of them get a chance to actually fertilize an egg. 

 

I agree age may play a big factor here. If the hens aren't laying consistently, something's telling them they're not in a good place to reproduce. It may be age, weather/time of year, or other health issues. I'd worry more about production before fertility, I think your'e getting the cart before the horse so to speak. 

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for the great advice.

 

I was told the birds were around 2 years old.  I am thinking they might be a little older and I've had them for about 6 months now.  The previous owner said she was going to devote her time and space to a larger breed of chicken she had more of.  But now I do wonder..

 

Originally after the mites and worms were treated and obliterated, the birds were very skinny and were very slow to put on weight.  Since I was also raising quail at the time I gave them Purina game bird growth and plumage(28%) to help them put their weight back on, they were also molting at the time.  Once they reached a good weight and health the girls actually laid 6 eggs in 2 days, which for Sultan hens I thought was pretty good.  One shell was thin and broke.  They were then put back onto a layer pellet, mannapro brand.  The eggs stopped.  I gave them more time and switched them over to a flock raiser 18% protein, and oyster shell freely available.  The only hen who would lay was Trooper at about once a week.  The other hens seemed to be loosing weight again.  I rewormed with "worminator" just in case they had found more intestinal parasites or my first dosage of the ivermectin had not got rid of all the worms.  The poo's the next day looked clear of worms.  But since the hens were loosing weight on Flock raiser, and there were no worms, I thought giving them the game bird food might be the thing to do.  

 

Trooper's feather was actually from her crest but had got caught in her eye and went unnoticed for I don't know how long.  By the time I got her she had a pretty severe eye infection.  I plucked the offending feather and put her on antibiotics for the eye.  It seemed some days we might loose her, the infection was pretty bad and her face was swollen.  But she did eventually get over it after several weeks on antibiotics internally and gentamycin eye drops.  Since her recovery she's been one of the healthiest looking hens with a nice breast but not fat feeling when I pick her up.

 

I probably should have stated these are large fowl Sultans, not bantams.

Today I had two eggs.  One from Trooper who seems to be on a 2 day cycle and one from another sultan hen who also appears to be going  on a 2 day cycle.  It confused me to find a larger egg in my Mille Fleur box but watched one of my sultan hens go in there earlier today to lay her egg where the mille's lay.  I thought it may be my pullet starting to lay but it's one of the older hens.

 

Obviously I want what's best for the Sultans since I consider them pets but I have several who I think are great quality birds and I would like to hatch some chicks out to eventually replace the aging flock and to try and gain local interest in the Sultan breed since I think they are wonderful chickens (other than obvious faults like bad egg laying).

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yellowherbs-swap-page

Everyone should have a Sultan in their flock

Reply

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yellowherbs-swap-page

Everyone should have a Sultan in their flock

Reply
post #5 of 5

If Trooper's eye issue was not due to an ingrown feather, then the possible genetic issue is not a concern.

 

It is possible that it is just too early in the year.  Only a few of my hens are laying at all, and not yet at full speed.  It might be helpful to keep a calendar of each hen's egg production

Chance favors the prepared mind.

 

 

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Chance favors the prepared mind.

 

 

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