Do happy hens hatch more females? We want to hear your stories, if you've been lucky hatching pullets

halefamily_flock

Songster
Sep 16, 2020
329
827
176
Southeast Misssouri
I was browsing through a separate thread on using extremely high temps to hatch only females, and came across several very interesting replies from @LaFleche, sharing experiences hatching high ratios of pullets from hens with low levels of stress. It inspired me to create a new thread, to try to collect stories from other lucky hatchers around the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could identify common practices for achieving more pullets, and having fewer extra cockerels to dispense with, simply by making our hens happier and reducing stress in the flock? Call me optimistic, but it is almost Christmas so the spirit is in the air. :wee

I'll start with my story. I've been extremely *lucky* in hatching. So far, across 3 hatches at 3 different times of year (February, August, December), involving a minimum of 4 roosters and 7 hens, I've hatched 28 of 30 eggs. Of those, 18-20 were pullets. That's up to 70% pullets! That includes my most recent hatch (13 eggs), which is a little too early to know for sure on a couple of them, but looks to be 70-85% pullets. In any case, I'm well above the 50/50 ratio that would be expected.

Here are some of the quotes, from the other thread, that inspired me. Rather than reply over there, and risk hijacking their thread and/or being drowned out by the discussion of high heat in the incubator, I thought I would do it here and get things started...

Yes, I have since I took care to have more relaxed hens. With my wonderful Kraienköppe I had mostly female chicks, last hatch was 2.14 = 2 male and 14 female.

Congratulations! That is an amazing result.

Neither cold nor heat is favourable as is causes stress.

My flock is subject to both. Here in the middle of the USA, we have summers regularly 95 F/35 C with spikes that go even higher. The chickens free range over a large area and have access to shady, breezy spots. This summer, I created "cooling stations" in shady spots around the farm, with plenty of water and even added an industrial fan to generate a breeze. Even still, you can see my hens were suffering from the heat (including the Dominiques who gave me lots of pullets!) The eggs for my August hatch were collected in conditions similar to this.
Hot_dominiques_summer2020.JPG


hot_hamburg_summer2020.JPG


The last few days have been less than 40 F/4 C during the day and down to 21 F/-6 C at night. I don't use any supplemental heat in coop (it's non-insulated metal with a concrete floor), just extra straw & hay bedding and deep litter method to generate some heat.
Dec2020_winterflock1.JPG


I try to keep conditions as close to nature as possible, and have started breeding to strengthen the hardiness of the flock. For example,
  • Crossing the Spitzhauben with single combed and rose combed hens, to try to give them more heat tolerance
  • Reducing comb & wattle size of the Legbars for more cold tolerance
  • Only selecting the most predator savvy roosters & hens for breeding
  • Only keeping roosters in the flock who get along well with others and don't overuse the hens, so I can increase my overall rooster to hen ratio for better predator protection, etc.
If [a hen] does not like the rooster she will have more male offspring, some hens even expel the semen after mating if they do not like the rooster.

This is very interesting! My most recent hatch, earlier this month, was the first time I separated some of the hens and roosters to create specific hybrids. I put up a temporary fence to create a breeding coop & run area. I took care to put up the fencing in a way that allowed the chickens inside the fence to hang out with the chickens outside the fence, in one of their favorite areas. I had just as many hens break into the breeding pen as break out, so I don't think it added any stress. One Cream Legbar hen kept breaking out of the pen daily, so I figured I would let her stay out with her favorite rooster (Spitzhauben) in the free range flock instead. That combination yielded 100% sex-linked pullets (2 of 2). My Olive Egger hen in the free range flock also had this same rooster as her favorite, although his brother was also free ranging with him. She gave me 100% sex-linked pullets (3 of 3).

Inside the breeding pen, I started with the Cream Legbar rooster I liked the most, but the hens clearly did not. After about a week together, they were still not getting on, so I swapped him out with my other Cream Legbar rooster. (The rooster the hens rejected was sent to freezer camp.) The hens took to Legbar #2 right away and became noticeably happier in the pen. Because they weren't sex-linked, I can't be sure about all of my 2-week-old Legbar-Dominique hybrids and Legbar-Olive-Egger back crosses, but feather patterns indicate at least 50% pullets, and possibly up to 75%.

Please add your stories of pullet-hatching-luck and ideas for keeping your flock happy and stress free!
 

JacinLarkwell

Crossing the Road
Mar 19, 2020
16,057
32,782
861
South-Eastern Montana
I have a hen that is the mother to 10 chicks I know of. 9 females and one male. But that's over 2 times and I don't think it has to do with her being happy otherwise all of my birds in her group should be doing the same
 

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