Rooster knows who's ready to lay (so to speak)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Schrebergaertner, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Schrebergaertner

    Schrebergaertner Songster

    Dec 13, 2010
    I'm new to BYC and new to chickens--what a great forum! Anyway, last July we got 12 1-week old chicks. 3 each of BR, RIR, BO, and Ameracauna. Turns out one of the Ameracaunas is a rooster, and he's a beauty. Very friendly, seems to be very protective of the girls, and so far the crowing's only a minor issue with one neighbor. After reading many posts from people who ask why their hens aren't laying I thought I'd post what I've recently observed (apologies if this is old news, as I said, this is all new to me). About a week or two after he started crowing (1 or 2 months ago) he started mating, but only with the BRs. We weren't sure why he chose them, but within a few days, they were the first ones to start visiting the nest boxes and were the first ones we got eggs from. Last week he started going for the RIRs, and sure enough, now they are starting to fiddle around in the boxes and we think we got at least one egg from a RIR, since we got 4 eggs in one day this week, and there are only 3 BRs.

    So is a rooster's affections an accurate gauge of when a hen is about ready to start laying?

    PS: We're in SoCal and it's been cooler than normal and we don't use any artificial lighting, so I think we're fortunate to be getting as many eggs as we are (avg. 2 per day and only 3 or so hens are laying).

    Thanks for all the great info from eveybody! Having chickens has been a blast!
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas

    You could say that in a way the rooster's new attention to mating certain hens is an indicator of when a hen is ready to lay, but I think there's a better one.
    When a pullet (hen under a year old) starts actually squatting for the rooster (vs. screaming bloody murder), eggs will soon follow. The reason I say this is that I've had roosters start trying to mate the pullets when he was only two weeks old (with my turken). Of couse the pullets hate it at that age. Once the pullets start cooperatiing instead of trying to run away I know eggs will soon follow.
  3. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    Quote:I ended up with an Easter Egger cockerel, when I had ordered pullets only, just like you. My boy grew up with another Easter egger (a pullet), plus two buff orpington pullets and two barred rock pullets. All six of these babies grew up together in a closed group.

    My boy started mating all five of his female coop-mates as soon as he figured out he was a boy, around nine weeks of age or so. It didn't matter to him that the pullets weren't ready yet. He was, and so he had at it. There were several times that I actually separated him from the girls for a few hours, just to give the gals a needed rest. Eventually the girls matured sexually too, and it became easier for everybody because they were willing to squat and submit at that point.

    Not long after that, a BO went broody and the two BRs each laid fertile eggs for her to hatch.

    When these little girls were merged in to the larger flock (when they were 16 weeks old and the other members of the flock were about 40 weeks old), I noticed that DaddyRoo didn't move on them until about the time that they were beginning to lay.

    Our BO went broody again a few months later, and so we had another generation to merge into the main flock three months later. Once again, DaddyRoo did not make a move on the pullet until she was ready to lay eggs.

    Finally, I bought two Delaware chicks while babies, and merged them in a few months later. Once again, DaddyRoo did not make any move on the pullets until they were ready to lay eggs.

    So to answer your question -- YES, alot of times roosters are sensitive to the maturity level of the hens they will mate.

    When DaddyRoo was just a little boy himself, he was sexually and socially immature and so he went after any chicken with "indoor plumbing."

    But by the time three more months passed, he was sexually and socially more mature, and from that time on, he has always waited until the little girl was old enough before he started mating her.
  4. Schrebergaertner

    Schrebergaertner Songster

    Dec 13, 2010
    Thanks for the info. Sounds like our roo is just unusually mature and selective for his age! All the more reason we'll want to keep him (which we never expected).

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