Fertility and..

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ALDavis, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. ALDavis

    ALDavis Out Of The Brooder

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    I've tried to find an answer in other threads without any luck so here goes. How long will a rooster remain fertile for? 2 years? Is there a peak fertility window?

    I've only had my hens since the fall, I'm looking to add to the number of hens that I keep. As I have several people wanting to buy eggs from me now. My hens give me an egg a day now, can I expect 2 a day when the temps warm up or is an egg per hen pretty standard? I don't want to get too many hens and be swimming in eggs but I want to be able to fill my orders. Currently I need to have 5 dozen a week to fill orders. My hens are all crosses. How many hens would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1 a day is pretty normal you would be eggstremly lucky if you got more than one egg per day, in the winter and when they molt their production goes down, fertility for roos is about 1-5 years old sometimes more some less it depends upon the individual chicken.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    A rooster, if fed the proper diet, can be fertile for 5-6 years or more. To keep a rooster healthy and fertile that long you'll have to provide a different diet than the hens. He can't have a diet of 4% calcium nor should he have the same protein level as the hens. 13-15% protein is normally sufficient for mature roosters. Any bird not actively building egg shells should have 1% calcium.
    Excess calcium will cause lower sperm motility, kidney damage and eventually visceral gout. Excess protein can cause liver and kidney damage and articular gout.
    Peak fertility will be from 12-24 months.
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/232/gout/

    You can't get more than an egg a day from a chicken hen since it takes 25 hours to make an egg and ovulation doesn't occur simultaneously to the egg being laid. It's usually at least an hour after.
    Since you've only had them since fall, you are experiencing the pullet flush of eggs. Their second autumn and each thereafter they'll molt and stop laying. Some will start up again after growing a new winter coat, others will wait till after the winter solstice when days get longer.

    For 5 dozen eggs a week, you'll need about 15 hens (less if leghorns, RIR or other similarly productive breed - more if not) during the spring and summer but probably 40 mature hens in fall and winter or start with new pullets each spring so they'll lay when the mature hens aren't.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  4. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    True but that would not be 2 eggs a day but perhaps one every 23.99 hours.
    They may have a shorter ovulatory cycle and perhaps don't take a full 18 hours in the shell gland, but not actually 2 eggs in a day.
    366 eggs in a year are likely from birds on an ahemeral lighting program and not allowed to molt so that would be their first laying cycle, not on an annual basis.

    An egg has to exit the shell gland before another can enter. There isn't enough room for 2. Usually a hen won't lay at night so the eggs that would come during the night are held for the next morning.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    I'm just a bit perplexed as to why you are concerned about rooster fertility, because it sounds like you are producing eating eggs rather than hatching eggs.... since you say your hens are mixed breeds.
    Just wondering if you realise that you don't need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs.....it's a misunderstanding that many new poultry keepers fall into.
     
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  7. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yes we all know that but he/she is wanting to increase the numbers in his/her flock.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The 25 hour thing for an egg to go through the hen’s internal egg making factory is an average. Some take longer, some go faster. The other part of it is that there are different triggers for a hen to release an egg yolk to start that internal journey in becoming an egg. One of the normal triggers for most hen sis when one egg is laid the next starts that journey. But different triggers affect different hens differently. Another trigger that is fairly strong is daylight.

    I once had a green egg layer that laid her egg before 9:00 am every day for a week or more at a time and then skipped a day. Her cycle was certainly not 25 hours.

    They may have counted the eggs but did they mention the quality of the eggs? Occasionally some hens might mess up and release two yolks in the same day. If the yolks are released at the same time the hen may lay a double yolked egg. If the release times are separated a bit, then the hen can lay two eggs in the same day. A potential problem with this is that a hen often makes just enough of some types of egg material in a day to make one egg, not two. It’s fairly normal for the second egg to have either no shell or a very thin shell. Even when there is enough shell material, you can get defective eggs like the last two on this poster.

    http://www.alltech.com/sites/default/files/alltech-egg-shell-quality-poster.pdf

    Aldavis, each rooster is an individual. Some start out really fertile (actually most do) and remain fertile for different lengths of time. A lot of that has to do with their vitality. A younger rooster typically is more active than an older rooster. There is not a magic age when roosters all go from fertile to infertile. Health, nutrition, heredity, and even how much competition they have from other roosters have an effect. Some roosters, especially those one to two, often three years old have no problems keeping 25 or 30 hens fertile, some, especially older ones, may have problems keeping five hens fertile.

    My suggestion is to monitor the fertility of your eggs and add a new one when fertility starts to drop. That’s basically what hatcheries do. They find that by adding a younger rooster to the flock they can often stimulate older roosters to become more active.

    How many hens do you need for five dozen eggs a week? That’s really hard to answer accurately. Different hens lay a different number of eggs per week. Some may only lay an egg every other day if that. Most production breeds will lay an egg a day for anywhere from 4 to maybe 9 days in a row, then skip a day, then they will go through that cycle again. So it can vary a lot by the individual hen.

    A laying flock follows a fairly regular production curve if you have enough hens for averages to mean anything. Normally they start out slow but quickly ramp up to maximum production. Then, over time, production slowly decreases. After maybe a year to 14 months of production their lay rate drops to maybe 60%. This is for commercial flocks composed of egg laying hybrids. 60% is normally when profitability drops to where the flock owner has to decide to either let them molt so they can recharge their system or replace them with a younger flock. Normally after their first adult molt they come back laying great and the eggs are bigger. Then they go through that production curve again. But after their second adult molt their production drops maybe 15% to 20%. They are normally replaced when it’s time for their second adult molt.

    All this is for commercial hybrids. You probably don’t have those so your numbers will probably be different, but they will follow a similar pattern. They also manage the lights to maintain production. A lot of us don’t do that so our hens typically stop laying and molt in the fall, then come back laying great after the molt is over, though some wait for the longer days of spring to start.

    It’s not as set answer, it will vary depending on how productive your hens are and what art of that production curve they are in. It’s going to change throughout the laying cycle.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Actually it's a surprisingly common misconception (if you'll pardon the pun!) I've read it several times from newbies here on BYC, along with people worrying about the taste of fertile eggs and finding baby chicks when they crack them in the pan if they are fertile. Many people start off with very little knowledge and learn as they go along and that's fine.

    Anyone asking if hens will lay more than one egg a day clearly has a limited knowledge of chickens and might therefore be under that illusion.

    Yes we can all be pedantic and argue the interpretation of more than one egg a day, but in reality if the OP gets 6 eggs a week out of every hen/pullet, they will be doing extremely well. In the truly exceptional circumstance of getting 7 a week every week of the year, getting one extra egg in that year is hardly going to be relevant for their required 5 doz a week.

    I would agree with ChickenCanoe, at least 15 pullets for now, especially if they are not high production birds like leghorns or sex links, as there is always going to be the odd bird that is sick or goes broody etc but that production level will not be sustainable into the autumn and winter without introducing many more new birds.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  10. ALDavis

    ALDavis Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm curious about a roosters fertility because I also incubate eggs. I currently have a small flock, 3 wellsummer hens and a buff orpington rooster. The rooster is at least 2 years old this year. I want to continue to incubate my eggs. I am setting 48 eggs from a friend this weekend, the eggs are all crosses. I wanted to see if I would need to keep a cockrel from that hatch to replace the rooster I have after its grown. The eggs I'm currently getting from said rooster are fertile, I just had a successful hatch out of them. I'm trying to plan for my future flock in determining how many birds to keep. The hens I currently have will be replaced by this fall. Out of the 3 of them , I'm getting 2 eggs a day sometimes 3. I do not offer any supplemental lighting. My chickens free range, they come and go as they please whenever they please. The door is always open for them, I don't keep them pinned. I have 3 alert dogs that combat any potential predator issues.
     

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