Hens lay fertile eggs without Rooster?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CarlisleCluck, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. CarlisleCluck

    CarlisleCluck In the Brooder

    My question to the group comes about after a conversation I had with a gentlemen last evening. I know that hens lay eggs without having a rooster around - no problem, happens all the time. And I know that once you have a rooster, the hen will then lay "fertile" eggs.

    My friend was telling me that back in the 1930s a study was done with 100 hens that were completely isolated from any roosters. After a while, 17 of the 100 hens laid eggs that were not only FERTILE, but were all female chicks. It was explained as some sort of throwback survival thing.

    I find this hard to believe - if it were true, why would we need roosters at all (except for their beauty and lovely crowing)? If we could guarantee female-only chicks, that would certainly solve the headaches a lot of people have when they find that they got the 1 in 100 male.

    So - has anyone ever heard of this study? Has anyone every experienced this phenomenon? Or has he done a really great job pulling my leg?

    Thanks for any comments (except those that say I am completely gullible!).
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Free Ranging

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Completely absent a rooster - it's not possible.

    However, you can remove a rooster from the hens and the hens will lay fertile eggs for another 3 weeks or so. The hens can store the rooster juice.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    I try to not use the word "never' with anything chicken. Life will sometimes find a way. I would not be surprised to find that it is possible for a hen to lay a fertile egg without a rooster, but there is a whole lot of difference between what can happen and what will happen. And it is hard to prove that something can never happen. It is pretty easy to prove something is not likely to happen.

    From a genetic viewpoint. A rooster gives one copy of every gene he has to all his offspring. A hen does not give a copy of all the genes she has. She withholds her "sex-linked" genes from her daughters but gives a complete set of genes to her sons. That means the hen determines the sex of her chicks. I guess it is possible she could provide genetic material for a son and a daughter and produce a pullet. But that would really be freaky. If that were as common as 17 out if 100, we would get a lot of freaks when we incubate eggs.

    If this were even possible, it would be extremely extraordinarily rare. I can not envision 17 eggs doing this out of 100 that were incubated. I'd expect you would have to incubate hundreds of thousands of eggs if not more to get one. No one can afford to incubate that many eggs just to get pullets. You can get pullets half the time just by following normal practices.

    I'd really want to know where that study came from. A hen can lay fertile eggs for two or three weeks after a mating. If there is any truth to that at all, I'd suspect it was a sloppy test, not a miraculous test result.

    I don't believe everythng I read on the internet, in the newspaper or in books. I don't believe everything people tell me and maybe sometimes I'm not sure when I'm the one doing the telling. I don't even believe everything I see with my own two eyes, including the things I saw before I needed glasses. Is that a gentle enough way to say that maybe you would be gullible to believe that without checking it out?
  4. CarlisleCluck

    CarlisleCluck In the Brooder

    I told him he was full of bull, but he insisted there was a study...so I did try to Google something, but had no luck. All the information you shared I know and told him. I thought I would ask in case someone had heard something (but honestly, if this was legitimate, then I think we would ALL have heard about it!!).

    Thanks for the responses and for verifying what I knew to be true!
  5. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    A Google search on "parthenogenesis" and "chicken" will reveal much.

    It is not common, but it has been known to happen and there are several factors that can influence it.
  6. LindaCT

    LindaCT In the Brooder

    Sep 30, 2011
    Which only goes to show that when a hen really wants to be a mama, she just might find a way. Anybody who has ever met a broody hen will know that they are pretty much unstoppable. [​IMG]
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Oops [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I Googled and could not find any study. I'm not saying it never happened but I agree with Happy Chooks. It is very highly unlikely and a hen or pullet can store the rooster's juice for around 3 weeks therefore fertilizing the eggs.

    You got that right. I have a broody sitting on eggs right now and if I don't take her off the nest for a few minutes each day she will not get off to eat, drink or poop. When I take her off she will eat and drink a little and poop and when I unblock the nest she is back on it in a flash. One day I didn't have the wood I block the nest off secured very well and she managed to get part way back on the nest under the wood. She fit her head and neck but couldn't get the rest of her body under the wood. Now I secure it better so she can't get under the wood while I have her off of the nest.
  9. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    When I first saw your post, I laughed - thinking that of course an embryo couldn't develop from an unfertilized egg. Then I Googled parthenogenesis and chicken like A.T. Hagan suggested. Fascinating reading!
  10. derbygardenhens

    derbygardenhens Hatching

    Sep 2, 2012
    I have 10 18month old ISAs in a secure caged pen. No cockeral could get in, nor are they let out. Today found soft egg sac with a formed chicken inside head, wings and legs showing. I have put this in water for time being. ANy ieas about this - what it could be or what I should do with the 'remains' Derby Gardenhens

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