Looking for general advice

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by SCCooper, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. SCCooper

    SCCooper New Egg

    Jan 5, 2014
    Hope this is the right forum...if another would be better, please let me know. Most of my questions have to do with hatching so I figured this would work. A little background...

    I'm not completely new to chickens. We had three hens a few years back that came with a house we purchased. I was a learning experience and a lot of fun but I'm really still a novice. We had them for a year or so, they all eventually became fox food :( Since that time (~6 years now), we have moved a couple times and haven't been able to get chickens due to where we lived. We are now purchasing another house where we will be able to have them, including roos...very excited!

    I've already decided that I want to get Dorkings. I spend some time volunteering on a small farm where there are a bunch of them and I've really grown to like them. I would like to have them for eggs and meat, and I think they'll be good around my three small kids. I am planning to order 5-6 hens and a roo in the next 60 days (need some time to build a coop). I would like the flock to be mostly self sustaining by hatching eggs and butchering as needed. So, here are my questions:

    - How old are they when they start mating?

    - If a hen goes broody, is it best to just let her hatch the eggs? I assume I can incubate if one doesn't.

    - If you have fertilized eggs that you don't want to hatch, is it best to just refrigerate them? I assume that would prevent them from developing.

    - Do they mate at any time of the year or more/less often at different times?

    Sound like a good plan, or not?
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    They pretty much mate year round.
    As long as the eggs are kept below the 70s, there will be no development so refrigeration wouldn't be absolutely necessary.
    If you want chicks and are fortunate to have a hen set then that's the way to go. Dorkings tend to be setters.
    Breeding commences around 20 weeks or younger depending on the breed. Dorkings are fairly slow to mature so perhaps a tad longer.
    They are supposed to be one of the best tasting meat birds, though I've never eaten one.
  3. ChucktheChick

    ChucktheChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2012
    The coop
    Great! I love dorkings too. Great chickens.

    - chickens start mating around 4-6 months

    -it's great to let a hen go broody, as long as she's separated from others. Other hens will pick on the broody momma and babies once they hatch. They'll also pick on her while she broods.

    -it's okay to eat fertilized eggs. Yes, put them in the refrigerator. It'll keep them from developing.

    -in my experience, roosters like to mate from late spring to early fall. Depends on the bird.

    I think it's a great idea. When you do get them, be sure to update us!
  4. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 13, 2013
    SW Kansas
    Most breeds reach sexual maturity as early as 18 weeks or as late as 22.
    I have not hatched yet but plan to let my BOrp hatch some whenever she is ready!
    I go ahead and refrigerate the eggs I sell, although it is not necessary. They won't develop without heat and humidity. Although I have read posts here from those who have taken refrigerated eggs and successfully incubated them.
    My young roos mate as much as any young male of any species LOL. I would think that this would dwindle with age but haven't seen weather/seasons to play much of a factor.
    You sound like you already have a good plan!
  5. shannondee12

    shannondee12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2013
    Left Hand, WV
    I can't comment on Dorkings but my buff Orp started mating the hens at 14 weeks old and the hen started laying Christmas Eve at 16 weeks old. She has laid everyday and has been joined by a silver laced wyandotte just 2 days ago at 18 weeks old. The buff orp eggs are testing fertile so they are going in the fridge for now.
  6. SCCooper

    SCCooper New Egg

    Jan 5, 2014
    Wow...thanks for the quick responses. Glad to hear this is a workable plan. If a hen set and should be separated, what is the best way to separate her? Do I need something other than the coop? Also, I plan to mostly free-range them...if a hen sets, will she stop browsing around the yard and keep to herself?
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    She'll come off the nest once a day to defecate, eat, drink, stretch and peck around a bit. Depending on ambient temps that will be from 20 minutes to over an hour.
    When she comes off the nest she may hang with the flock or wander on her own. When she's on the nest, she's in a sort of trance but will become quite gruff if disturbed. I haven't seen a broody hen that is intimidated by anything and will defend the resultant chicks from anything. They can be quite scary. Perhaps those that have experienced picking on by the flock had a setter of an extremely docile breed.
    Since she doesn't care about the flock so much at this time, it really is best to separate them. I've had hens raise chicks with the flock and sequestered. Both work but separating them prevents other hens from adding eggs to the nest, prevents more than one broody from stealing each other's eggs and when they hatch, I can make sure the chicks and mother have the appropriate feed for them without the rest of the flock eating it.
    I have several small coops. One is divided into pair and trio size units and they make perfect broody apartments. Or you can just partition part of your coop that includes one of the nest boxes.


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