Breeding and egg questions

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Liz Bailey, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. Liz Bailey

    Liz Bailey In the Brooder

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    May 18, 2013
    Salisbury NC
    Hello,

    I have finally found someone within driving distance of me who had dorkings, silver grey dorkings to be exact. So here's a bit of base info about the birds to better help you guys with giving advice and suggestions. I got them from a gentleman who's had them all their life, he got them from as chicks. He said last year they did ok but this year not at all. He let me take my pick of three from his six hens. I choose carefully and checked the pubic bones and keel to pubic bone lengths to see who was laying. They were all 6 not within standard. They all were 2 or less fingers between pubic bones, and 3 or less finger width between keel and pubic bones.His rooster was not close to breeding quality so I picked the three best hens out of the bunch who didn't look like they had been road hard by the rooster.All hens were underweight, in direct sunlight and in a very small coop. So I brought them home with hopes of restoring them to production because he said they had not laid for him in months. He was not very confident that it would be doable.
    So my coop and run are like night and day from his, and it is in the shade of large trees and has more than enough space. My feed is also different than his. We picked them up on sunday and monday afternoon I got a egg. I was so excited and I could see a noticeable difference in the colors of their combs and waddles. They went from extremely pale, to beginning to get bright once again. The egg was on the small size and more round than "egg" shaped. But this was with them just eating my chick feed, they had not yet been introduced to the layer feed I provide and also without free ranging. I kept them in the run for almost two days in order for them to get acquainted with their new world. Tuesday I did not get a egg, but didn't expect one considering that Dorkings aren't known for laying everyday. This morning though I did get yet another egg. This time the egg was a bit bigger and "egg" shaped. A big improvement I think, and the shell was noticeably thicker. I can tell a big noticeable difference in their feathers, and their overall appearance since being here compared to what they looked like when we first picked them up. I also opened the door to the run yesterday to allow them to brave the yard when they were ready, so they free ranged for a better part of a half of the day, going in and out of the run on their own without needing help finding it once again.
    So I heard from the man we got them from when I emailed him to let him know that they were doing well and I had received a egg, and to let him know how my two Silver Grey roo's reacted to the three new girls ( that is a very fascinating and a story for another thread). He informed me that they were hatched the 5th of april of 2010. So they are three years old, which at first concerned me because I plan on beginning a breed program of my own for both repopulating and meat/eggs.I have been told though that the age of the hens doesn't mean that they wouldn't be productive breeders.
    This morning I went out to check because I am suspecting that this egg today was laid by a different hen considering the difference in the egg, but am probably wrong. I rechecked them this morning for the pubic bone and keel ratio. I was shocked to see such a huge difference. One hen was a good three fingers between pubic bones, and a good 4 fingers from keel to pubic bone, another hen was almost three fingers for pubic bone width and four fingers from keel to pubic bone. The third and final hen, who's comb is still a bit faded was just two fingers width from pubic bones, and maybe three from keel to pubic bone. I was shocked that it had changed so much in two and a half days of being here, from showing no signs of laying to laying, and perhaps one getting ready to lay. Im not sure about the third, I will give her more time and hope that she will follow suit and progress to laying condition however if she doesn't then I will put her to freezer camp. The other two hens combs and waddles have changed back to bright red and waxy to where if i didn't know these three girls, I would say they were two different birds.
    So my question is...is there age going to be a problem? At what age is a dorking hen not good to breed? Would the fact that my two roosters are young and just now coming to the age of being ready to breed? Is there anything I can do to increase the success of breeding?
    Any suggestions, tips or advice is more than welcome!
     
  2. Liz Bailey

    Liz Bailey In the Brooder

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    May 18, 2013
    Salisbury NC
    I would really love some insight from some of you folks. I had a hen yesterday who spent most of the day in the hen box, made herself a nice little hole in the bedding in the nest box to lay in...but no egg. Im back to thinking I have one hen laying...who's laying a egg every other day. Im waiting to see if theres a egg today...and if so then I would say it's pretty safe to say that the theory of one consistant hen is correct.
     
  3. ramirezframing

    ramirezframing Crowing

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    Mar 2, 2011
    Knee Deep
    Most hens quit laying when stressed, moving them to a new house will stress them and they can stop laying for a few weeks. Some of my birds are also starting to molt, this too can stop egg laying. Don't kill your third hen. Even if she doesn't lay she will play a girlfriend role for two teen boys (as two hens won't be near enough for two roosters) Lots of old time breeders use older hens for the breeding pens. Check each one close for mites, as two of the girls may not have them but the third one could. I would switch them to the layer feed since they are not chicks and are laying eggs.

    Hope this helps you, good luck
     
  4. Liz Bailey

    Liz Bailey In the Brooder

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    May 18, 2013
    Salisbury NC
    Moving to our place didn't seem to stress them at all. Atleast one started laying once she got here, but hadn't been laying where she was for many months. I have checked them for mites thinking it might have been the reason they weren't laying for him ...but none of them have any. I do plan on getting more hens...and they are apart of a bigger flock...I dont plan on interbreeding breeds but there are plenty of girls for those teen roo's to chase, but however they seem to be calm now, and not chasing the new girls around anymore. They are now laying with them in the run and even roosting up against them. It was that the two teen roo's were chasing them all over and the girls wouldn't stand close to them. Now the boys stay where ever the girls and , and almost stand watch at the coop door while the girls are inside. I find it very fascinating actually. I introduced them to the layer feed the next day they got here. I also have chick feed out in free access too since I have small chicks going in and out, plus the girls are a bit under weight. I cracked open the second egg I got from them but it wasn't fertile. I did however see our roo get one of the girls after she laid that one....so hoping the next egg proves fertile.
     
  5. Liz Bailey

    Liz Bailey In the Brooder

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    May 18, 2013
    Salisbury NC
    Two days now without any eggs...so now Im wondering just what went wrong.
     
  6. Liz Bailey

    Liz Bailey In the Brooder

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    May 18, 2013
    Salisbury NC
    Well finally got another egg this afternoon...and checked to see if it was fertile...and [​IMG] it was fertile!!!!! So I will not be cracking anymore open to check, I will be collecting them to put in a incubator ( gotta get one now) while praying that one of my hens goes broody. I added some golf balls in the nestin boxes today to see if by chance that might kick start the other two to begin to lay, since Im pretty sure it's just one of my girls who is laying...or perhaps to kick start that momma instinct. Im so stoked...words can't express it!!!
     

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