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Age of parent birds and fertility

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by jossanne, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    I've got OEGB's that I bought last fall at four years old. They are retired show birds that I bought from an APA judge, and I'm planning to hatch every egg I can from them. They finally stated laying again a couple of weeks ago after taking the winter off. So I have the first seven eggs in the incubator on day 5 and I just candled them. All eggs show clear with no visible development.

    I've seen them mating and the hens have feather damage from his mounting them. There is one cock bird with three hens, so fertility should normally not be a problem. But will their age cause fertility issues? Anything I should know here? TIA
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    While I don't consider 4 to be old, older breeders can be infertile. If you break the eggs open is there a solid germinal disc or is it a halo?
    Older birds don't absorb nutrients, especially some vitamins as well as younger birds.
    About all you can do is boost their nutrition. What are they being fed now?
    Have they been fed layer feed up to this point? Do you know if they were on layer in their former life?
    4% calcium is too high for roosters and can negatively affect sperm function.

    You may be able to find a breeder ration. If not, stick with fresh feed and no treats/scratch.
    Add a vitamin/mineral supplement to their water a couple times a week.

    Show quality birds aren't necessarily extremely prolific since they've been selected for show, not production.

    This will give you all the possible causes.
    http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00008570/00001/1j
     
  3. Nataliejo

    Nataliejo New Egg

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    Mar 24, 2016
  4. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    I haven't broken open any eggs yet, because I didn't want to waste any. :) I figured an incubator would give me a pretty good fertility test, and if it was fertile I would have a chick instead of a broken egg. I'll check tonight when I get home.

    I don't know what he was feeding them before, but they have been on layer pellets since coming to my place. I believe it's 16% protein, but I don't know the calcium content. They also get occasional black oil sunflower seeds or corn, but that is only a couple times a week. I'll go find some breeder feed. They live in the coop with my laying hens and just get what the layers get, so I'll have to do some work to separate them out for feeding time at least.
     
  5. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,479
    2,429
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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Layer feed is always about 4% calcium. All other feeds are 1% because they're intended for birds not actively building shells.
    If roosters are to be used for breeding long term it's important to keep them under 2.5% calcium. 1% is preferable.
    You can switch them to an all flock or grower feed and provide oyster shell on the side for those actively laying.
    If his infertility is from excessive calcium, it's unlikely reversible.
    You're now on day 7 so I'd do an eggtopsy on any clears now.
    A study of urolithiasis and renal failure in roosters. By 42 weeks on a typical layer diet, 45% of the roosters had damage.
    http://www.pjbs.org/ijps/fin1947.pdf
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10780656
    A study of roosters with epididymal lithiasis and formation of calcium stones negatively affecting fertility.
    http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/early/2011/06/13/REP-11-0131.full.pdf
    luminal calcium stone formation
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  7. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    I've got five eggs developing in the incubator. I've thrown away about twice that many that haven't developed at all. Two eggs go on lock down on Monday. :)
     
  8. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    My two March 24 eggs pipped last night. One's had a dime-size hold since this morning, the other is still just a pip. I'm trying hard to sit on my hands and leave them alone. Hopefully BYC will get me through and help me be patient...
     

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