How can I tell if . . . ?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Laura Galland, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Laura Galland

    Laura Galland Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 19, 2017
    I'm a new chicken caregiver, and have some questions.

    1) Is there any way to tell from the outside of an egg (i.e., shell) whether or not an egg is fertile? I may want to let some hatch.

    2) I heard that hens stop laying after so many seasons, but do not know how long that is. Anyone know?

    3) How can one tell which hens are still laying and which are no longer laying?

    4) Here's the hardest question for me to ask - What does one do with a hen that is no longer laying?

    Any guidance would be most appreciated!

    Laura Lee
  2. Cluckcluck1215

    Cluckcluck1215 Overrun With Chickens

    Hello and welcome!

    1.No, Sorry! really varys from hen to hen!

    3.If they have a bright red comb and look hen like, most likely they are going to lay.If they are Pullets, they will get red combs around 19-23 weeks old.
    4.Some people cull(kill or sell)But some keep them for pets.
    Laura Galland and AlleysChicks like this.
  3. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi Premium Member

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    1). No, unfortunately. You can crack some eggs open to confirm your rooster is doing his job and then at that point you just assume the rest are fertile. You can candle an egg and after five days and usually sooner you can see if it's developing.

    2). It depends on the hen and the breed. High production breeds like leghorns and sex links are designed to lay a lot and quickly, so generally they lay all the eggs have quickly and start to slow down by two or three years. Heritage breeds that don't lay as much as quickly can last longer.

    3). You can measure their pelvic bones with your fingers to tell which are laying and which are not, that's usually the easiest and most reliable way.

    4). Keep them as pets, cull them, give them away as spent hens, turn them into stew, etc. Up to you.
    Laura Galland and MillersFarm like this.
  4. MillersFarm

    MillersFarm Easily distracted by Chickens Premium Member

    Jun 3, 2016
    Lewiston NY
    My Coop
    Hi! Welcome to BYC,

    1 there is no way of telling if an egg is fertile from the outside but just one rooster is capable of fertilizing up to 12 hens without a problem

    Is does matter what type of chicken it is but right now i have a bantam hen thats over eight years old and is still laying

    I would seperate the one you think is not laying and give it a little place to hang out with a nest, if you dont get an egg in about a week shes either to old to lay or egg bound

    The best thing to do is to cull her(Kill) Or look for a near by action and try to seel her off
    Laura Galland likes this.
  5. Laura Galland

    Laura Galland Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 19, 2017
    Thank you all for your responses! You have been most helpful! As to #4, I was afraid of that answer, but pretty much knew it to be the case. For now, I will keep them as pets . . . until I have too many pets and no eggs. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, but I may set up a second run/coop area to see what's really happening. Then maybe I can keep "pets" in a different area. Will being removed from the flock (not sure what to call the group of chickens) traumatize them in any way? If so, I will need get them wrist bands or something. LOL
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    1. As stated above, you can only tell after cracking them open. Go to the search bar and type in "fertile vs. infertile eggs" and you should get some pretty good pictures to look at to see the difference.

    2. Depends on the bird, nutrition, etc. They can decrease in number of eggs laid significantly after the second laying season.

    3. Comb and wattle color are a good indication, as is measuring the pelvic bones. Another thing to look at is the vent. If it's moist and pliable looking, she's most likely laying. If it looks dried up and shriveled, probably not. Too old and egg bound are not the only reasons a hen will quit laying. She'll quit if she's broody, not getting proper nutrition, has been stressed in any way, has lice or mites... there are a lot of reasons. Or, if she's free ranging, may have a hidden nest.

    4. There is no "best" answer to this question. It's all personal preference. If your chickens are pets and you can't bear to lose one, keep them. Let them live out their lives, but be prepared to put them down if they show signs of illness or reproductive tract issues. If you are keeping them to make money by selling eggs, economically you don't want to be feeding a non-productive bird. It's entirely up to you.

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