How's long does it take a new rooster to breed a flock?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lfili8, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. lfili8

    lfili8 Just Hatched

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    Hi guys, I just got a new rooster on Thursday evening, and put him in with my flock of 5 hens. He seems to have settled in already, and although I haven't seen him breed any of the ladies, I cracked 2 eggs for breakfast this morning and 1 of them was fertilized. I want to start collecting to incubate soon, but would like to make sure there's as few duds as possible in there. How long should it take for him to cover all 5 hens? And here's a pic of the handsome guy for good measure :)

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  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You don't appear to have a "rooster". He's still a baby, no more than six or seven months old, if that.

    If you plan on using him for breeding purposes, it would be wise to wait until he reaches the one year mark, or you see those spurs reach a length of around 3/4 inch. Before a cockerel reaches a year, the quality of their sperm is not reliable. You will have better quality fertilized eggs and healthier chicks if you wait.

    One of the problems with using eggs from very young cockerels is that they usually have not perfected the mating ritual and a lot of the eggs may go unfertilized making incubating the eggs a wasted endeavor.

    Observe him over the next couple months and you should see some pretty amusing "action" while he learns the ropes. I had a young Cuckoo Marans cockerel who was so eager, he would launch like a torpedo at his target only to fly right over her back, landing on his head. Needless to say, that hens eggs went unfertilized.
     
  3. lfili8

    lfili8 Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the reply! The guy who gave him to me said that he's around 10 months old. He's gotta be doing something right since one of the two eggs was already fertilized this morning, but i think I'll follow your advice and give him some time to get the hang of things so I'm not wasting eggs in the incubator :)
     
  4. cmohlin89

    cmohlin89 Out Of The Brooder

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    If the hens are all older than him (he looks a bit young) they may not even allow him to mount them. Once he matures a bit he'll assert himself and do the job.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Looking at him, I'm guessing he's a Brahma mix? Just thinking they're a slower to mature breed, and not as assertive of a breeder when they're young, from what I understand. So, his breed may come into play and keep him from fertilizing as aggressively as a more production bred bird.

    Were it me, just incubating for myself, well, I'm impatient [​IMG]. I'd probably give it 2 weeks or so, then be setting eggs. Just to see, you know [​IMG]
     
  6. lfili8

    lfili8 Just Hatched

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    My hens are all just under a year old, and have been laying since the fall. So they don't really know what they're doing either. I'm not planning on selling the eggs or anything.. just wanted to wait till they are up to a higher fertility level before sticking them in the incubator. He's supposed to be a purebred brahma, but not sure where the guy bought him from originally.. I guess I can keep checking the eggs too and see how many are fertilized.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m not going not argue with what anyone said, to a certain extent I agree with most of what has been said. One of your goals is to have as few duds in the incubator as possible. I’ll work with that.

    Just because a cockerel may not fertilize each and every hen in the flock (true, especially if you have more mature hens) doesn’t mean he doesn’t fertilize any before he fully matures. You’ve seen that he is fertilizing some by your egg for breakfast.

    There are two ways I’m aware of for us to determine if an egg is fertile, crack it and look for the bull’s eye or incubate it and see if it develops. You can also do DNA testing but I’ll try to stick to practical solutions. If you crack an egg you can’t incubate it and once you start incubating you are kind of stuck. You cannot unincubate an egg.

    If you can tell which hen is laying which egg, then just put the eggs from the hens that are laying fertile eggs in the incubator. The way it works the eggs are generally fertile for two weeks after a successful mating, so if one of her eggs is fertile the others she is laying should be also. That should greatly minimize your chance of getting duds. It will not eliminate those chances, there are several reasons eggs do not develop besides fertility, but it certainly helps.

    Another way would be to wait until all the eggs you crack are fertile, but who knows how long you’ll have to wait for that.

    You will often see recommendations to not incubate pullet eggs. When a pullet first starts laying it sometimes takes her a while to get all the different parts of her internal egg making factory working properly so the egg is put together in a way that it will hatch. That’s why you can get so many weird eggs when they first start laying. It’s a complicated system, perhaps the surprise is that so many get it right to start with. A lot of the time those first eggs are pretty small too. That size can cause problems. I hatch pullet eggs all the time, often fertilized by cockerels less than a year old. I’ve found that it’s best to wait until at least a month after they start laying before you incubate the eggs. Yours have been laying well past that month, you should be OK from that perspective.

    While I do try for success, I often find the best time to do something is not necessarily when conditions are perfect, but when I can. For example, if I waited for perfect conditions to plant my early cool-weather garden, I’d skip some years because conditions are never ideal. I just do the best I can.

    To sum up, if you can determine which hen is laying which egg and only incubate the eggs from obviously fertile hens, you minimize your chances of one not developing. That’s often easier said than done.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I'd give him a couple of weeks. If the pullets/hens all accept him, chances are that all eggs will be fertile if he's hitting the mark. You can make that assessment when you cook breakfast every morning. Do you have a place to brood chicks, and room for them, as well as an exit plan for the cockrels?
     
  9. lfili8

    lfili8 Just Hatched

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    Ridgerunner I would love to know which egg comes from each hen, but don't really have any practical way to tell. 2 more eggs have been laid since this morning, one with a rubbery shell and a normal one. The rubbery one is the first "weird" egg my chickens have ever laid, their eggs have been uniformly shaped, large eggs for the past couple months. I opened the rubbery one and that one is also fertilized, so he's successfully mated with at least 2/5 hens since Thursday night, but not all 5 yet. I think at this rate, within a few days all the eggs should be fertilized, so might do a test run in the incubator next week.

    Lazy, yep, I'm well equipped for the chicks I plan on raising ;)
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Sounds like fun. I'm waiting till end of March to incubate. Then will do a revival of the egg shaped gender experiment.
     

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