Pullet question.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenKeep01, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. ChickenKeep01

    ChickenKeep01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am wondering when do pullets become hens. I want to know for breeding
    Please note: i am only putting this question under "managing your flock" because i didnt know what else to put it under
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Not sure what you are asking. A pullet is a female chicken under one year of age. She reaches reproductive maturity sometime between 4 to 8 months, depending on the breed. Once she is regularly laying eggs that are consistent in size, shape, and shell quality, you can begin incubating the eggs.
     
  3. ChickenKeep01

    ChickenKeep01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks i wanted to know when they are considered a hen and not a pullet
     
  4. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    At 1 year old... :)
     
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  5. ChickenKeep01

    ChickenKeep01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m late to this thread but is your real question “When can you start to hatch the eggs”? You do not have to wait until they are a year old to do that. If that is your real question let me know and I’ll respond to it. I’ll subscribe to this thread for a couple of days to see if you respond.
     
  7. ChickenKeep01

    ChickenKeep01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's sorta my question I waned to know when they are no longer pullets and the eggs have a higher hatch rate
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a couple of problems with hatching pullet eggs. Some pullets take a while to get everything in their internal egg-making factory working right. There are a lot of different parts to the egg laying process and sometimes it takes a while for the pullet to get the kinks worked out. That’s why you often get those weird pullet eggs, the shell-less, soft-shelled, double yolkers, no yolks, no whites, extra thick shells, and some that are just plain weird. What’s so surprising is that so many are pretty normal to start with.

    The other problem is that the eggs start off small and gradually grow in size. That’s nature’s way of protecting an immature fairly small pullet. The larger the egg compared to the chicken the more likely it is that the pullet will be hurt by laying the egg. The small egg just doesn’t have enough nutrients in it for the chick to develop to a large size so it’s not quite as robust as a chick from a larger egg. Of course there isn’t enough room for the chick to grow very large either or it would not hatch.

    I hatch pullet eggs all the time. Sometimes I get a great hatch rate, sometimes not so great. I’ve had 90% with pullet eggs. I hardly ever lose a chick that hatches, whether from a broody or an incubator. When I do lose a chick, it is usually one from a pullet egg. Even that does not happen often.

    A couple of examples from this spring. I set 13 pullet eggs in my incubator in February. Those were from two different pullets that had been laying about a month, six from one and seven from another. I could tell by shell color which eggs were from which pullet. From one I got 5 out of 6 to hatch, the other never started to develop. All of them lived too. Not bad. But I got 0 for 7 from the other pullet’s eggs. None of them started to develop. I suspect the problem with her eggs was that behaviorally she had not matured enough to squat for the rooster so her eggs were not fertilized. I blame the rooster a lot for that. He wasn’t aggressive enough about mating all year, if a hen or pullet ran away when he danced he would not chase but just walked away. He has been replaced. But that’s another potential problem with pullets, they may not be mature enough to lay fertile eggs.

    Two months later I set 20 pullet eggs in my incubator. These were from the same two now 3-month-laying pullets plus four others that had been laying about a month. I’m not sure which eggs came from which pullets. I got 12 out of 20 to hatch, not great but not absolutely horrible. All twelve lived, by the way. Of the eight that did not hatch two started to develop and the other six were clear. From the colors of the shells it looked like whether they hatched or not was not related to which pullet laid the egg. I also set 8 eggs from older hens, at least a year old. I got 7 out of 8 to hatch from those. I think that shows my incubation was OK.

    I don’t think this is tremendously relevant to your question, but commercial hatcheries that provide eggs that eventually become the Cornish Cross broilers start incubating the eggs when the pullets that lay them are around 22 to 23 weeks old. I don’t know what kind of hatch rates they get. But these pullets are specially bred for this and the onset of laying is controlled by food and lights. Our chickens are not bred like that and are not raised like that.

    There is not a clear cut answer to your question. The longer you wait to incubate them the better the hatch rate to a certain point but you reach a point where the improvement is miniscule. There is a huge jump between the first egg they lay and the egg they lay after they have been laying a month. That one month of laying is pretty much my limit. From my experience, there is a small improvement from one month to two months. After two months the difference is pretty miniscule. I think that depends more on the individual pullet or hen than how long she has been laying. I have had hens that even if the hens were over a year old their eggs just would not hatch.

    I don’t know what your goals are or your circumstances, but I’d suggest starting incubating eggs after the pullets have been laying two months. Your hatch rate should be pretty decent.
     
  9. ChickenKeep01

    ChickenKeep01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks that helped alot
     

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