mating, laying, etc.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SweetPeaMcD, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. SweetPeaMcD

    SweetPeaMcD Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 26, 2012
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    Well, since we found out that Louis (Lou-ee) is definitely a boy, and Snowball (formerly Jaina) is definitely a boy as well, we decided to bring some ladies into their lives. Shocked, because they were hatched Sept. 2nd & 3rd respectively, and Louis has already decided to start a family! Is that a bit young for that?? He's been crowing for a few weeks now, and I don't mean a weak, strange noise, but a crow that you can easily identify.

    Pepper & Perry hang out together, kind of loners. The boys will chase them and grab the back of their necks. Ginger will drop down and just stay still, the other ones just want to run away. Ginger laid three eggs in the past three days, but we haven't cracked them open. My daughter said, "Great. Now we're going to be aborting chickens!!" as she cracked open a store-bought egg for her cookies. If we decide to let Ginger keep an egg, well... what should we do? We don't have an incubator, but our ancestors didn't have them either, did they?

    When you find eggs out in the yard, do you keep them if you have no idea how long they've been there?

    They're eating "layer" food and the rest of the chick starter. Should we enhance their food?

    The ladies were all kept in runs with no nest boxes, no upstairs/downstairs, etc. We let them free-roam and go in and out at will and close them in when we're gone or at night. All of them will go upstairs but Eleanor. Wondering if she thinks she's too hefty, or she's not comfortable with the ladder. Do you think she'll ever go up?


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Snowball doing the "Flamingo" Louis & Snowball

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Eleanor Cinnamon Ginger (3 eggs in the past 3 days :)

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Perry, she's the shy one, a loner Pepper (the gray one)
    I also think she has a broken toe :(


    Not sure exactly of all of their breeds, I believe Louis is RIR, Snowball and Ginger look to be the same type, Eleanor & Ginger are buffs, Pepper is just beautiful with her pretty tail (can't see in the photos) and Perry was just too cute for my daughter to leave there. ;)
     
  2. SweetPeaMcD

    SweetPeaMcD Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 26, 2012
    Central Virginia
    [​IMG]
    Here's a better shot of Pepper's tail :)
     
  3. curiositykt

    curiositykt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 4, 2012
    Marlborough MA
    You need an egg box as soon as you can get one. It doesn't need to be fancy, just a dark area where they feel safe and protected.

    You don't want to let them go too long without an egg box as they will never learn to lay eggs in the proper place if you don't start early.

    So long as you get the eggs every day or so they should be fine to eat. They won't hatch into chicks unless the circumstances are just right and you don't have a broody chicken so they will need to be incubated if you want babies. In the olden times people would keep a few chickens who would go broody often so they could have chicks when they wanted. My dad talks about having one chicken that would always be broody so he could keep hatching out guinea hens to sell.
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Rep of Ireland
    Your roosters may appear to be sexually mature and though they are mating with the hens, at their age it's unlikely that they will be producing sperm/have a high enough sperm count/volume to actually fertilise any eggs. (So tell your daughter not to worry!) The age at which a rooster is mature enough to be successful differs across the different breeds and other factors also come into play, like feeding, health etc. From my experience with my roosters I found they need to be at least 5 months old. Once they are mature enough one successful mating will ensure the hen lays fertile eggs for up to 3 weeks.

    This thread will show you how to check if your hen's are fertile:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/16008/how-to-tell-a-fertile-vs-infertile-egg-pictures

    Once you are sure you are getting fertile eggs from your girls you can either wait until one of them goes broody (she'll spend a lot of time in the nest box and sleep in it too, complain if/when you take eggs from her, walk around puffed up and clucking) or you can buy/build an incubator and hatch them yourself.

    If you find a stray egg in the yard you can float it to see if it's fresh. Jut fill a bowl with water from the cold tap and place the egg in it. If it lays flat it's fresh. If it stands up or floats, toss it.

    Layer food is fine. I see from the pics your chickens are out doors and have access to grass etc, so they'll get some nutrition from that and whatever tasty snacks (bugs) they find.

    I agree with the above post, you need to get them nest boxes if they are laying. You can place a fake egg or a golf ball in there to show them where you want them to lay.

    You can encourage Eleanor to go up by lifting her up in the evenings and placing her next to the other hens. Have you got roosts for them to sleep on? Chickens instinctively roost at night. It's to keep them safe from predators.
     
  5. SweetPeaMcD

    SweetPeaMcD Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 26, 2012
    Central Virginia
    We've seen Louis in action, so to speak, and he's not quite gotten his positioning down. [​IMG] But, at least he knows what to do when the time is right, haha! This has led to some really good conversations in our household though.

    We do have two nesting boxes upstairs and Ginger & Cinnamon are using them now. It's funny to watch a couple of the other girls when either of them are getting clucking and getting ready to lay an egg. It's almost like they go upstairs and check on them.

    Thanks for the info on the nest box... My 13 yo son built a box for downstairs (in case Eleanor ever gets the urge and can't get upstairs), but it's not fully enclosed. I have been crawling in the coop & grabbing Eleanor at night. She just won't go up by herself. Last night was the first night I was able to reach in and scoop her up w/o a chase! [​IMG]


    Those are great pictures of the eggs - THANKS!!!
     
  6. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG]
     

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