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Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by evangelinedess, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. evangelinedess

    evangelinedess Hatching

    Mar 28, 2012
    How many roosters should be kept for each hen? Does a younger rooster have better or worse fertiliy? How do you know if it is a fertility issue causing chicks not to hatch?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The short answers to your questions are 10 to 12 hens per rooster, use a younger rooster, and I don’t know but assume the rooster.

    How many roosters should be kept for each hen?

    To me, this is an "it depends". Commercial operations that provide hatching eggs have found that in a pen breeding situation, they need 1 rooster for each hen to get maximum fertility. It's not that one rooster can only keep 10 hens fertile. I mean, watch yours and see how many hens he tries to fertilize in one day. Once fertilized, a hen usually stays fertile for two weeks. But due to many different factors, this ratio is what it takes in a pen breeding situation. This is where they might keep 20 roosters in one pen with 200 hens. This is where the averages come into play. They are such individuals that you have to have enough for the averages to mean something. Otherwise your results can be all over the place.

    If you have a different situation, like only one or two roosters, they may free range instead of be in a pen, whatever, one rooster can easily keep twice as many hens fertile. Or one rooster may not be able to keep very many fertile. It depends on the rooster and the hens. It's not just a case of fertility, there is social interaction going on too.

    One rooster for every 10 to 12 hens is not a bad ratio to shoot for. How many you actually need depends on your specific situation and the specific animals.

    Does a younger rooster have better or worse fertility?

    This again will depend on the individual, but most of the time a younger rooster is more dependably fertile. An older rooster can lose fertility or vitality. He just quits trying to mate as often or really slows down in activity. A young rooster can be driven by hormones to be really active. So in general, a younger rooster is more likely to fertilize the eggs. The only potential problem with this is that a mature hen will sometimes resist the advances of an immature rooster. A mature hen often expects a rooster to act like a rooster. He should dance for her, find her food, watch for danger, and keep peace in his flock. Some hens will squat for anything wearing spurs, but I've seen several mature hens resist a young rooster. Immature pullets are less selective. So the ideal rooster for breeding is a young one, maybe 1 to 2 years old that has matured enough to gain the respect of the hens. I have seen some roosters less than 20 weeks old that could do this and some a lot older that could not.

    How do you know if it is a fertility issue causing chicks not to hatch?

    I don't know. You can crack the egg and look for the bull's eye to see if that egg is fertile, but after I've incubated a while, the egg is so liquid when I crack it I can't find anything. It’s too runny. If you find that most you crack before incubating have the bull's eye, you can assume that most of the ones you don't crack have the bull's eye too. But I don't know how to tell after I've started incubating for one specific egg.

    Rooster fertility is a big cause of why eggs don't even start to develop, but there can be other causes. Improper storage of the eggs, such as them freezing or getting them so hot they kill the egg or maybe storing them too long. Some roosters slow down in the off-season, just like some hens stop or decrease laying. Overcrowding can cause a problem. Nutrition of the rooster or hen can contribute. It's not just protein. They need several vitamins and minerals to produce good hatchable eggs. If yours free range or have access to a variety of green stuff, this is almost certainly not the problem. If you have several roosters in a fairly small pen, there may be too much competition between them. On the other hand, one way commercial pen breeding operations increase fertility when it drops is to add a few younger roosters to stir up competition.

    But if there is a fertility issue with different hens' eggs, it is probably something to do with the rooster. If it is just one hen's eggs, then it might be something to do with her.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  3. evangelinedess

    evangelinedess Hatching

    Mar 28, 2012
    Thank you so much for answering me. You have no idea how helpful that information is to me. It did bring another question to mind though; what is a "bulls eye" and what does one look like? From your information...I believe our rooster has low fertility. Thank you again for your help.
  4. PsychedChicken

    PsychedChicken In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2012
    I usually keep about a 4:1 ratio of hens to Roo's. I keep as many Roo's around as possible without them fighting over the girls. It works great for me. I have excellent fertility and a happy flock. HOWEVER: My birds all free range, in a situation where the Roo's were closed into close proximity all the time they would probably tear each other to shreds. But I dont know for sure.

    When ever I'm setting up breeding pairs I use this same ratio. 1 Roo for 2-4 Hens in a pen together to make purebreed babies.
  5. evangelinedess

    evangelinedess Hatching

    Mar 28, 2012
    Thank you for your reply...my computer has been down for a couple weeks or I would have responded sooner. It seems like you have quite a few roosters...are you running a hatchery? I would really like to some day. My problem may be the rooster, although I do have sixteen hens with him. Sam, our rooster was rescued at a duck pond by my 5 year old. She adores him, as she raised him after cleaning his wounds and nursing him back to health. Getting rid of him is out of the question, and he is somewhat aggressive toward other roosters. Out of the 41 eggs I set in my incubator only 7 hatched...upon breaking the remaining 34 were infertile. I had a ratio such as this one when I was 17 or 18 years old and still had at least a 50% hatch. Also, I noticed that out of 5 freash eggs saved from my black australorp only 2 were fertile. Of the 7 chicks that hatched from fertile eggs... they were the offspring of only 3 of my 16 hens. These hens are some of my smallest hens and the rooster is small...could size be contributing to the fertility issue? Also, I noted that all 7 chicks resemble their mothers at this time. Could his genes be week as well?

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