Another year full of cockerels....

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by silkiekeeper, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Crowing

    May 20, 2015
    Many years ago some guy did an informal study in which he fed sorghum to Zebra finches, which subsequently hatched more females. I have yet to test his hypothesis.
  2. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    I also read something along those lines in the past.
  3. couponsaver47

    couponsaver47 Songster

    Sep 14, 2010
    if U need eggs, I will send u some...I have 76 hens & 5 Roos. Wish i had more roos. if nothing else chicken stew.
  4. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    I had a golden hen who hatched mostly females. I do think it has something to do with the stress levels of the hens. I think where there are plenty of roos trying to mate with a hen she is stressed and tends to produce more female offspring.
    What is the source of your eggs? If from your own flock, do you have many roos? Is the layer a favorite hen with the roos? If they are hatchery eggs Im guessing there is low stress there. I would guess that in the hatchery environment there is only a very limited number of roos as they are expensive to keep and it only takes one to do the job for many hens...hence low stress for the females.
    That is my theory. I have never found any scientific data to support.
    Susan Dye, ValerieJ and MROO like this.
  5. TayInTX

    TayInTX Chirping

    May 14, 2019
    I’ve been incubator hatching my flock’s eggs and reading up on how to get more pullets, too. I’ve heard apple cider vinegar in the water can help balance pH so, at the very least, an even number of pullets are produced. (There is some chatter that various trace chemicals in tap water may influence the hen’s pH that results in more males being produced.) I also read that feeding dairy products to the laying flock can help slightly increase the number of pullets.

    I did one hatch where I had ACV in the water a couple days before and during the week of egg collecting. I fed a few tablespoons of cottage cheese to the flock each day (about 1 tsp per bird) and then only incubated the rounder eggs, since I heard the old wive’s tale that very oblong eggs tend to be male. I just wanted to see if it would help at all, since my first hatch 3 weeks prior was pretty much 50/50.

    The hatch had 14 females and 6 males, which is a statistically significant increase over the expected 50/50. Maybe one of these old wive’s tales actually helped or the foods helped balance my local tap water somehow. The anecdotal evidence was interesting and I’ll continue to experiment. I do, however, have one Easter Egger Blue layer hen that produces predominantly female chicks and one EE green layer that so far has produced almost all males. I’ll be incubating more of the blue EE’s eggs, which will naturally skew my hatches to have more pullets.

    It is all so interesting and thank you everyone who shares so we can all learn!

    Edited to Add: I have hard water where I’m at, with lots of calcium and other minerals in it.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  6. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    How about this one ... just last night ... Out of a 50/50 clutch of 6, two died in a fluke coop accident (a board I thought was secure fell over on the newly integrated babies.)
    Guess which ones ... BOTH of them! ACK!!!!! and Tears!!! I feel awful. But I guess that's the karma I get for not making absolutely sure everything was secure before turning them loose with the Big Kids. Some lessons definitely come harder ...MUCH harder ... than others.:(
    Susan Dye, ValerieJ and Trimurtisan like this.
  7. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    As long as they're raised together, they should be fine, but your best best would be to keep them in a bachelor flock - no hens. With no competition for mates, they tend to get along much better.
    Susan Dye, ValerieJ and Trimurtisan like this.
  8. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    Hey, where are ya? We can ship all the extra fellas your way! :D
  9. I may be the rebel of the crowd, but have you considered keeping a few more boys in order to increase your ratio of hatching females? Some breeds (Jersey Giant especially), especially those with broiler ancestry, prefer to have many males in a flock. Think about it, in the days of professional poultery, a poulterer who was paid by weight would prefer to sell as many (heavier) roosters as he could, and could charge more ounce for ounce than a hen too because lower prep time (1 big bird vs 2 small ones) increased demand. Roosters were also considered more flavorful than hens, and whether whole or dressed made a more handsome presentation. Just like with Tom turkeys, ganders, and mallard ducks, they pushed rooster/hen ratios in their flocks to satisfy customer demands and increase profits. Boys sell better! The birds got used to this (in many ways, it is the more natural way to raise them anyway), and passed those social instincts down to their descendants, who populate our flocks today. Harem-type flock ratios (as high as 30:1 female) are a post-Industrial Revolution trick intended to encourage high-production egg laying, and rarely make for happy birds. Personally, I consider harem flock practices unhealthy and exploitive, and would never raise chickens without multiple quality roosters, though I understand I am in the small, quiet minority on that issue. Given the chance to brood, a hen in such a flock will take the opportunity to "improve" the ratio by hatching more boys. Keep in mind, cockerels are for more than mating. They scout new food sources, solve quarrels, round up wanderers (especially chicks), and most importantly, draw predators away from the chicks and hens. Their territorial displays keep the hens sexually stimulated, and keep rivals from neighboring yards from encroaching. They also determine when a flock is too crowded, and given the opportunity will occasionally split off with a female volunteer or 2 and start a new flock elsewhere. If a broody hen feels like these needs are not being met, she will prioritize hatching and raising sons to fill the void. It's hormonal. You raise silkies, right? That's not a production laying breed by any means, so they would not be used to female-skewed or harem flocks in either their hormones or their social behaviors, so they will be more likely to naturally skew their reproduction to favor males, especially since they know you give away most of them, so they must raise more just to keep a few. Remember, Silkies have some of the strongest mothering instincts in all of chickendom. If they want more males, it's unlikely you can convince them otherwise. Maybe you could try keeping 1 or 2 extra males (good solid attentive roos, not scraggly rapists) and see if that improves next season's pullet count. If you're worried about them fighting, let the aggressor have some time alone in the coop or a separate pen within sight of the others. Otherwise, let them fight! Good roosters very rarely harm each other, they just puff up and let off steam. Father-and-son and brother teams do wonders for flock morale, not to mention security. Broiler breeds (like my Jerseys, Brahmas, and Marans) can be quite aggressive without enough males around. Hens will fight, bully, and peck open eggs to display dominance, and roosters, overstressed with too many female demands, will be rude to hens and chase, attack, or bareback them. Ironically, most would tell you to add more females in that case, which makes the problem worse. I'm not saying every breed is like that, and when it comes to Silkies, I don't really know. To most chicken owners, I would say, when it comes to boys vs girls, pay attention to the needs of your flock and don't get greedy. Of course, if you're using an incubator, none of what I said really matters, and good luck!:thumbsup
  10. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    I have Nankin bantams, who do very well with multiple roosters. My current ratio in the breeding pen is three to nine - with roos/cockerels at three different ages. The head roo is two years old. His son is one - and only just now being "allowed" to mate - and the youngster is about four months old. So far, so good!

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