Rooster and hens....

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MainelyChicken, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. MainelyChicken

    MainelyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, here it is... I have a new rooster, and a coop full of happy hens. What now???? Will the rooster know when its time to mount the hens? After that what or when do i do anything???? How will i know if the eggs are fertilized. How many will she lay that are fertilized??? Lots of questions and no answers, PLEASE help me!!!!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    This thread tells you how to tell if an egg is fertile. You have to crack open an egg to look for the bull’s eye so you can’t hatch that egg, but if most if the eggs you open are fertile, most of the eggs you don’t open are fertile.

    Fertile Egg Photos
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=16008&p=6

    After a successful mating the hen stores the sperm in a special container. It varies a bit but normally every egg she lays within two weeks of a successful mating will be fertile. Some last three weeks or even more but two weeks is a good number to use.

    The mating ritual is not just about sex, it’s also about dominance. A rooster does not keep notes in a little black book to keep track which hen needs fertilizing, it’s totally random. But with his desire to fertilize eggs and maintain his dominance over the flock, he’ll cover a whole lot of hens. Fertility rate depends on the number of hens, how well they cooperate, the health and vitality of the rooster, and flock make-up, but a reasonably young active rooster will probably keep 20 or more hens fertile in a small flock situation. Check your eggs for the bull’s eye and you’ll see how he is doing.

    There is a “magic number” floating around this forum that you need 1 rooster for every 10 hens to maintain fertility. That comes from commercial operations where they use the pen breeding method. That’s where they might have 20 roosters in a pen with 200 hens. They’ve found that the 10 hens to 1 rooster ratio works best in that specific situation, but we normally keep them differently, with a lot less roosters and a lot less hens. Personally I don’t believe in magic. We each have our unique situation so the right number is different for each of us. Check your eggs for the bull’s eye to see how your rooster is doing in your unique situation. Remember, he only has to mate with a hen once every two weeks.

    It takes about 25 hours for an egg to go through the hen’s internal laying factory. The egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Sunday, Sunday’s egg will not be fertile. Can’t be. It had its window of opportunity Saturday. Monday’s egg might be fertile. Depends on when the mating took place and when that egg started its journey. Tuesday’s egg will almost certainly be fertile.

    Hopefully that helps. If you have any more questions, let us know.
     
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  3. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The rooster will breed with the mature pullet or hen when her comb is bright red indicating to him she is ready to breed. If she accepts the breeding she will shake and if she rejects it she will poop.

    You can assume the eggs are fertile if you witness the rooster and hens together, In my experience, the roosters are very good at making sure at some point in the day to get with all the fertile pullets or hens. A pullet or hen will not lay more eggs. A pullet or hen does not require a rooster to lay eggs - it is just normal ovulation.

    If you are curious whether or not your eggs are fertile. All eggs have a dot on the yolk. If the dot is just a dot then it is not fertile. If the dot looks like a target - then it is fertile. You are not eating a baby chick at this point. A fertile egg is just a fertile egg unless constant heat is applied as if in incubation or under a nice broody hen for 21 days.

    Fertile eggs taste the same and non fertile eggs.

    Caroline
     
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  4. MainelyChicken

    MainelyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the response. When and if the eggs are fertilized, will the hen know they are? Will she get broody or do i need to do something else with the eggs??
     
  5. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No when you have mulitple hens they seem to go broody in their own time. They may all be fertile and lay eggs in one nest. At some point one of them will sit on the eggs and make an odd noise when disturbed that might sound like a noise from GODZILLA. She will be all puffy and sort of resemble a angry feathered basketball. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when they go broody. I had a pullet - Lay about 10 beautiful greenish blue eggs and then she immediately went broody. I should have let her sit on those eggs but I didn't and she remained broody almost 80 days. I let her hatch eggs and she was a horrible mother so I let the other white rock broody raise the chicks which she did well. She was a cream leg bar. If you find a chicken in a nest with hackles raised anytime you approach her making a wierd sound (her comb will not be bright red) you can bet you have a broody girl.

    Caroline
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    A hen has no concept of fertile eggs. When a hen goes broody, she will set on fertile or non-fertile eggs, turkey or duck eggs, door-knobs, or golf balls. If none of those are available she will set on her imagination. She does not need a rooster around or eggs of any type to go broody.

    Not all hens will go broody. It’s an instinct that has pretty much been bred out of many hens, especially production breeds like leghorns. In a commercial operation, they don’t need hens to hatch eggs. They have incubators for that. When a hen goes broody, she quits laying eggs, requires special handling, disrupts the flock, and eats food. In those situations, going broody is often a fatal condition.

    Hormones cause a hen to go broody. I don’t know what triggers those hormones. I’ve tried letting eggs pile up ion a nest and it never worked, though I did have one go broody in a different nest. They go broody when they go broody. You really don’t have any control over that. The only way you have to control when eggs hatch is to get an incubator.

    There are a lot of different signs that a hen might be broody. A broody hen on a nest might fluff up, growl at you and even peck you if you bother her nest, but I’ve had hens do that when they are just laying an egg. A broody will spend a lot of time on the nest, but again I’ve had some do that and not be broody. When she is off her nest for her daily constitutional, a broody normally walks around fluffed up and making a constant pok, pok, pok sound. Again, I’ve had some do that who were not completely broody. I think their hormones were acting up but they had not kicked over into full broody mode.

    My test to see if a hen is truly broody and deserves eggs to hatch is that she has to spend two consecutive nights on the nest instead of roosting in her normal spot. One night is not enough. I’ve had several spend one night and then never go back to the nest.
     

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