Hens lay fertile eggs without Rooster?

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

  1. tandykins

    tandykins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Parthenogenesis isn't something to be believed in or not believed in. It's a scientifically tested fact. You can disbelieve it - but your disbelief doesn't change that it is very real.

    It happens most often in species of reptiles/insects/amphibians but there have been well documented cases of it occurring in -several- species of bird. We're not talking about anecdotal evidence that someone's buddy heard from someone's sister's uncle's neighbour's poker buddy's dog's vet. We're talking about research performed by biologists and geneticists.

    It's not even a process that's terribly odd. There are at least two species of reptile that are literally entirely composed of females because they ONLY breed through parthenogenesis and stick insects (which I breed) very frequently breed by this method. Mammals are actually rather the odd-branch-out in this respect - and in lab settings even human embryos can be created by using parthenogenesis.

    It's not make-believe. It's not pretend and it's not a fantasy story or a dream someone had. It's basic biology that can be repeated and tested. Not believing in it is a bit like not believing that the earth is a spheroid body or not believing in gravity. It is a thing based on observation, evidence and testing that we know to be true.
     
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  2. Skink

    Skink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Absolutely agree with tandykins. This isn't really a matter of belief, saying it is untrue would instead be willful ignorance, which is very different from disbelief. As an aside, comparing sexual preferences to reproductive anatomy didn't really make much sense, cmom. Were you perhaps trying to allude to the fact a same sex pairing won't produce embryos? That's true in humans, but the issue is not so black and white with parthenogenetic species. Just look at whiptail lizards, the most famous example. They need to mate with other females in order to kick start their successful reproduction! Genetic material isn't provided by either female to the other, but mounting and being mounted by other females is necessary.

    To answer the original question of CarlisleCluck, the reason we still have to make more chickens the old fashioned sexual reproduction way is mainly because embryos produced by parthenogenesis are almost never viable in chickens! In fact, studying parthenogenesis in domestic fowl is important when it comes to increasing fertility! Frequency of producing parthenogenetic eggs has been found to be genetic, and breeding against this increases the chances of the embryo in an egg being a viable (aka produced sexually) embryo. Single parent eggs also have greatly reduced genetic diversity, and the rare embryo that does make it to hatch doesn't tend to be the healthiest of chickens. For the last hen(s) in their isolated environment, this small percentage of single parent eggs could be the savior of their population, but sexual reproduction produces ideal results.

    I wish there was a way to produce only hens where only hens are wanted, it would prevent a lot of cruelty, but natural parthenogenesis sadly isn't the answer with this species. Maybe someday when we know more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
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  3. tandykins

    tandykins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not to mention the sheer genetic bottlenecking that would happen if the same female genes were constantly passed through hundreds of generations. Whiptail lizards are almost bizarre in how successfully they've been doing this for so long - just constantly cloning themselves.

    I had an absolute braingasm when reading Ohio State University's findings earlier this year when, in the setting of a research farm, Dr. M. W. Olsen not only produced viable parthenogenetic females (females with a higher incidence of reproduction through parthenogenesis) by selective breeding but found that 8% of the hatched eggs were -males-. Not only males. -Fertile- males. That is amazing. I cannot wait to read his further research.

    But it follows that if this result is possible in turkeys - there is no reason to believe that, under specific conditions - this is not also possible in chickens.

    This happened under controlled circumstances - but it's likely happened in nature, albeit -extremely- rarely. We likely just hadn't noticed.

    ...******, now I'm thinking about changing my major again...I -love- biology.
     
  4. Skink

    Skink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is the full paper available? Not behind paywall, I mean? I didn't see anything but relayed nuggets of information in other articles on a quick google skim, but it is 4 am and I am running on an unusual amount of stress and coffee. I'm about as likely to miss something in text as I am to take a breath! What I did find mentioned that all eggs produced males, and 8% of the eggs hatched, not 8% of eggs hatched being male. No publication date on that, found something behind paywall that was a reprint of a paper from 1958 but there wasn't sufficient information to know the contents other than google dredged it up when I slammed his name in the search box. He bred it in to a strain of beltsville whites. I wonder if that flock was dispersed with no record, or is still closed somewhere or what. Would probably be a hard thing to keep going this long, but an awesome piece of living history

    Alarming if it could ever prove to be more profitable in the large scale operations that have already contributed to genetic diversity decline what with the homogenizing of the factory farm chicken and blablabla I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir there, but it might be a blessing when it comes to male chick ethics. There are things to be said against the stresses of shipping and for the inhumane methods of euthanasia practiced at some hatcheries and yadda yadda more choir preaching, though I've come to understand the growing keeping of chickens on a small scale has been a boon to heritage breeds and heritage + genetic bottleneck doesn't really mix... idk. I guess it'd be a mixed bag. It isn't in the stars any time soon, but I hope someone actually picks back up on researching it. Doesn't seem like there's been much information since...

    maybe you should switch majors again and fill in the gaps [​IMG]

    As for the whiptails, I've been given to understand they do so well genetically to that effect because they're a hybrid gone species, but I can't claim to know much about teiids. I've kept a few from the family and could rattle off some junk about those, but anything outside that handful of species are nebulous pickings of "I think I read once"s
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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  6. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Subscribing!

    I am subscribing because at the risk of sounding loopy, I also noted a bulls eye on one of my bantam's eggs. I also did not take a picture because I honestly was thinking that is not possible (no roosters around here) and continued to scramble the egg to feed back to the gals!

    I totally forgot about it and then noticed a few posts from others about the same thing.

    I searched images on the net for fertile v non fertile eggs and could not really find a clear image and wondered if anyone here has nice clear images of fertile v non fertile? Also, I wanted to find this thread again if I notice any other eggs with the bulls eye so that I could add an image of what I am seeing.
     
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Sorry, adding a little bit more.

    Unfortunately the bantam that laid the suspect egg is now broody and not laying. However, after much internet searching, I have found a picture of an egg which is reported as being fertile and looks exactly like what I saw in her egg; a little white dot inside and an outer white circle:

    [​IMG]

    Not ever having had a rooster, fertile eggs is something I really did not pay a lot of attention to and only happened to notice this by chance.

    Looking at lots of other fertile egg images, they appear to be slightly different to the above in that while the outer circle is obvious, the inner circle/period/dot is not as defined as it is in the above image.

    In everyone's opinion, is the above image of a fertile egg?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    It does look like a fertile egg. Put under your broody and see what happens.
     
  9. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Thank you cmon ... unfortunately, I do not have the egg anymore and as I mentioned, fertile eggs was not something I really paid any attention to as I do not have a rooster. I will, however, definitely be keeping a closer eye on all the eggs from now on when I crack them open, because that is definitely what I saw and just wanted to confirm that what I saw was indeed a fertile egg.

    I will update this thread with pictures if I do see that again ... my curiosity is now definitely peaked [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  10. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    These are images from another thread. I have had eggs that have the circle without the dot in the middle. I'll try to get a picture. I tried to take one but it came out blurry and my girl that lays those eggs did not lay an egg today.

    This is a fertile egg.
    [​IMG]
    This is an infertile egg.
    [​IMG]
     

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