Fertilizing Pekin Eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Min27, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. Min27

    Min27 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a flock of four bantam pekin/cochin hens and one rooster. They're a fluffy breed. A Christmas present from my grandparents from two years ago. Three of them just went through being broody and sat for two months before they kicked out all their eggs and I bathed them to get them off the brood.

    I really wanted to breed them though, and I thought there would be chicks after this broody period. But our attempts failed. All the eggs are infertile. My grandma told me that the guy who sold the chickens to them said to trim the chickens' feathers if we wanted to breed them. I've trimmed the feathers around their vent to stop their back ends from getting too messy, and I thought that was what the guy meant.

    So has anyone successfully bred chickens of this breed? What feathers are you supposed to trim to allow the rooster to properly mate and fertilize the eggs? Are you supposed to give these chickens a trim all over every now and then?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    No trim all over is necessary, at all.

    Some strains of some pekins and other fluffy breeds rely on human intervention to breed, in which case the hens especially but possibly also the roosters may need their vent area trimmed. If you've done that and still no luck maybe your rooster is infertile, or maybe not even mating at all. Have you seen him mate with them?

    Best wishes.
     
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    When I've had to trim, I do it above the vent for the hens and below for the roosters. If you've just trimmed up poopy trails, you probably did them all below and perhaps didn't take enough off. Cochins/Pekins were one of my breeds I had to trim to improve fertility.
     
  4. Min27

    Min27 Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote: Yeah it was a rushed job. I didn't want to take off more feathers than necessary. The risk of jabbing the hen with the scissors. The hens really don't like sitting there while I'm cutting around their back end either.

    Quote: The rooster has been mating quite regularly before the hens went broody. He's even been doing it with some of our australorps, but I don't know if I want to cross breed those chickens. There are periods though where he doesn't mate quite as often.

    You can get infertile roosters? I wonder if he was desexed?
     
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    You can of course get infertile anythings. If it can be fertile, it can be infertile. Same applies to every single system and function of every organism. If it works, it can also fail to work.

    Infertility isn't uncommon in chickens at all, for a wide variety of issues including bad breeding choices made by the breeders (mainly resulting in severe inbreeding depression but deformed sperm is also very common and so are multiple reproductive disorders in hens).

    Some people will persist with trying to breed an extremely low fertility rooster and even resort to AI if he can't do it naturally. But it can crop up randomly too. I had one extremely low fertility crossbred rooster (hybrid vigor? Ha! Not for him. He came from two already severely inbred lines of purebreds so there was no benefit to him in being a mix of that). He managed one single offspring in his entire few years of enthusiastically mating his way through all the hens he had access to. He appeared completely normal so it took me a while to realize he was so near-infertile that he should be culled not bred. Needless to say neither he nor his single offspring persist in my flock.

    If your rooster were mine I would test him with the Australorps as well, to rule out some potential causes of infertility... Provided his butt is trimmed enough, that should at least narrow down some potential issues as to the lack of fertility. That way at least you'll know the fertility issue is for sure not sitting solely with him.

    I highly doubt your rooster is caponized, since they then return to a more female/neuter appearance (generally) without the fancy male feathering, and do not exhibit mating behaviors or any normal roosterly behaviors... Well, the majority doesn't anyway. Much like dogs, cats etc, desexing removes sexual drive as well as ability in most (but not all) individuals.

    As bizarre as it sounds, it's also not uncommon for roosters to sit on a hen and not actually mate. I culled that trait out because what use is it?! I found that especially came from White Leghorn genetics in my flock but I've seen it in other genetic lines as well. They'd get on a hen and then just sit there and do nothing, then jump off. So if your rooster is like that he can be failing to follow through with mating, just going through some motions.

    Also if the hens really, really don't like him, they will not get into position and there's nothing he can do about it. Squatting isn't all they need to do, they also need to tilt and twist their rumps a bit, and assist in matching their cloaca with his. Even with trimmed butts, if they aren't more cooperative than just squatting, he's unable to complete the task. They have to move their tails and the feathers as well and there's this thing they do with their cloaca, which the rooster also does, basically it's a flaring of the orifice, and without that mating is a failure. I've also had hens that flat out would not mate with certain roosters.

    Did you candle the eggs at all to see if there's any development? If they die early and rot quickly you may only see grey or greenish or yellowish liquid in the eggs after the hens reject them, but they were possibly fertile despite that appearance --- however if you didn't check you won't know for sure. Some bacteria, fungi and viruses can invade and kill eggs very quickly, the most virulent I've ever seen could infect hatching eggs and kill them before the chicks got out. It stank like something seriously septic, caused a septic state in eggs or embryos within a few hours, and was transmitted via contact with contaminated feathers, other eggs, nesting materials, etc, and apparently spread by the wild birds, went through my flock one year out of the blue and I've never seen it before or since. Luckily only took out a couple of clutches and did not persist.

    The problem may be with the females, there's a lot that can go wrong and since the female contributes so much more, so much more can go wrong on her end. Diet is usually the number one culprit, some nutrients (A, E, Zinc and Selenium in particular) are especially vital to reproduction being sustained, as in the female not only getting pregnant but having that state be sustained to the ideal result, a live offspring. (I know it's weird to think of a hen being pregnant, probably, but that's basically the closest description to her carrying a month's supply of 'fertilized' yolks, which even one good mating should be able to achieve, normally).

    Early embryonic death is very common for a variety of causes. If your hens are on layer feeds, quite often they don't have enough nutrients to use for themselves as well as give to the eggs to sustain embryo life or correct development, so the embryos either die before reaching hatching age or hatch with advanced deficiency diseases that tend to kill the majority. Breeder diets ideally, or at the very least 'buffered'/supplemented layer diets, are necessary for good breeding outcomes.

    Best wishes.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    This is fairly unlikely but I'll mention it just in case... Sometimes hens will suffer a sort of 'henopause' wherein their hormones go so awol that they take on a complete rooster appearance, complete with mating, crowing and other behaviors as well as the fancier feathering. But they remain infertile, both as females and males.

    There is a patent for gender reversals in chickens though, so who knows how flexible they truly are, I'd think it's not impossible to get bi-fertile individuals, though surely they'd be almost as rare as hen's teeth.

    Best wishes.
     
  7. Min27

    Min27 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow thanks. That's a lot of things to consider.

    Well the hens aren't broody anymore and they're moulting. I believe the main problem is they aren't trimmed enough at the back end, but the rooster could be infertile too.

    I don't believe the hens don't like the rooster. They follow him around and they come over to him when he calls them. It appears that the rooster has made himself the leader of the flock and the hens don't seem to have a problem with that.

    When the chickens were sitting I checked on the eggs regularly and eventually they sounded sloshy inside when I handled them, so I ended up throwing them out. They also kept kicking the eggs out of their nest and I had to keep putting them back in. I don't have the equipment required for candling and thought that you had to do it 3-4 days into the incubation period or it could affect the developing chick.

    Perhaps next time I should look into changing their feed for breeding. At the moment they're eating laying pellets.
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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  9. Min27

    Min27 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all your help.

    My grandparents have spoken to the person who sold us the hens and rooster. He told them we have to trim all the feathers around the vent on both the hens and the rooster, and we have to trim all the way to the skin. I guess this is why some people suggest plucking, but I couldn't hurt them like that or risk them bleeding. Next breeding season I'll have to get help holding the chicken still so I can do the trimming properly.

    Quote: It was an unexpected situation. Three hens chose the best laying spot and all went broody in there together. The eggs got kicked out and moved around because each hen was coming and going to get food and water. The hens may have also been squabbling over the eggs.
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Good luck with them, hope it works out.

    Best wishes.
     

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