Topic of the Week - Chicken Myths, True or False?

sumi

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My MIL used to swear round eggs = hens and pointy eggs = cockerels and therefor only set round eggs (until she hatched 7 cockerels out of 7 eggs, but that's another story)...

There are many myths and beliefs around chickens and many firm believers in these myths. From egg shape determining the sex of the chick to setting eggs by the moon. So, just for fun, this week I'd like to hear you all's thoughts, stories and experiences on chicken related myths. Which are accurate and which should be taken with a pinch of salt?


For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 

sumi

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Uh ohh! :oops:

There are so many superstitions and so much myth out there regarding chickens that this topic is bound spark several impassioned exchanges. Time to sit back and watch the fireworks begin! :pop
What I'm hoping for is an interesting and informative discussion on people's experiences regarding these myths. Without fireworks preferably :) We have a great number of experienced, educated and mature members on site. I hope as the day progress they will chime in and let us know what they found to be fact and fiction when it comes to these beliefs and myths around chickens, eggs, hatching etc. :)
 

brucifer

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Okay Sumi, I'll start: When my roosters crow each morning, they cause the sun to rise. j/k! :lol:

Actually, one myth that I hear all the time is that by doing this or by doing that chicks will feather out faster. I raise several different breeds, and quite often chicks of the same breed, from the same brood, fed the same feed, living in the same environmental conditions will feather out at different rates. For example, I find this especially true with my experience with FBCM. We've hatched some FBCM chicks that at four weeks were lanky, ugly, full of pin feathers, and with very few actual feathers right alongside four-week-old FBCM chicks who were fully feathered and things of picturesque beauty. They all eventually grew up to be fine, healthy birds.

I'm not saying that protein deficiencies will not stunt feather development, but quite often feathering has more to do with a chick's specific genetics than anything else.
 

Blooie

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True true!! But I might point out that taking food, breed and genetics out of the equation, chicks raised with exposure to cold DO seem to feather out faster than chicks raised under a heat lamp. I've raised mixed flocks of chicks under lamps and outdoors under a heating pad, and I have to say that my experience has shown that those raised outdoors do seem to feather faster. That's not to say that each chick in each batch looked exactly the same feather-wise at a certain age - there were variations each time in development. I'm not explaining that very well....but what I mean is the heat lamp chicks were, for example several Easter Eggers, Orpingtons, Red Sex Links, etc. They were raised indoors under a heat lamp following the recommended 5 degree drops each week until by the time they were almost 6 weeks old I couldn't take them being inside anymore and I evicted them!! The next year I raised the same breeds of chickens using Mama Heating Pad, kept them in a wire pen outdoors in the run from the start, and they were so well feathered that by 3 weeks I was able to turn off the heat completely, even though our temps were still dipping into the teens and twenties.

If I was the only one reporting this difference with only the two batches of chicks for reference, I'd not think much about it except that it was coincidence. But I've raised 6 batches this way now, all varieties including slow-to-mature Brahmas and Silkies, and have noticed the same thing every single time. And I hear the same reports over and over again from others who switched from using lamps to methods that mimic a broody hen more closely. I've also noticed that MHP raised chicks seem to be be a little smaller in body size for a longer time, not growing quite as quickly as heat lamp raised chicks. But I think that's because when the sun goes down, the chicks snuggle under and go to sleep all night through, not waking up until the sun comes up, while heat lamp raised chicks are eating 24/7. :confused: But I ain't no scientifical-type person or expert.

All that said, there are most assuredly differences in breeds, overall genetic dispositions, and even individual chicks, so everything I've said here is a generality, not an exact science.

I think this thread could be very enlightening, as well as a lot of fun! Glad you thought of it! :bow
 

perchie.girl

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Myth ... All roosters are mean and wont get along with each other.

Take the Anthropomorphism out (attributing human emotions) and they are doing what they do naturally... I have had as many as six roos within a smallish flock of about thirty hens. Usually three adults and Three or so Juveniles.

Alpha roo is the boss and whips the others in line. Two other roos take guard duty... Juvies hang together and the adults smak em up when they need it. including the hens.... :lau

Now I had a mixed flock of mutts...

deb
 

brucifer

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Hi Blooie! I appreciate the response. As I mentioned, I don't see feathering rate or poultry climate acclamation as solely genetically-triggered events. Even us humans have adaptability built into our bodies. For example, that's one reason people tan or get darker when they are exposed to the sun. Increased pigmentation is our body's way of adapting to an environmental change so that we can flourish and survive.

However, my issue with the way some people attribute the feathering rate of chickens is where I have concern. The slow-feathering (SF) phenotype in chickens is controlled a dominant sex-linked gene (K) with (k+) being the fast-feathering (FF) phenotype. Males with the genotypes (K, K) and (K, k+) will express the SF phenotype; whereas, males with the recessive (k+, k+) will express the FF phenotype. For females it's a bit more simple: (K, -) for SF, and (k+, -) for FF. Those genotypes are the overarching controlling factors of chicken feathering rates.

As for anecdotal accounts, I always weight them with a bit of caution and skepticism before really believing them. I'm much more prone to evaluate scientific research that has been vetted through the scientific method. In fact, I don't always trust my own casual observations. Let me give you an example:

I used to play a lot of online backgammon at a particular website. Although the website developer claimed to use a fair pseudo-generator to generate dice rolls randomly, it always seemed as if double sixes and double aces appeared beyond their expected probability frequency rate. In the website chat room this was brought up, and others made mention of observing the same phenomena. Once the group-think ball got rolling, someone eventually told the developer that the pseudo-generator was not working properly. Things got very testy to say the least.

Anyway, the data from all of the dice rolls from all of the backgammon games played at the website over the years was still available, so one very smart backgammon player downloaded all of the dice rolls and did a frequency analysis. Come to find out, the pseudo-generator was nearly spot on. Only the frequency of double 4s was more that what it should have been, but even that frequency variation was not significantly different from what was expected.

What I learned from that experience is that group think can be a powerful influence in the face of truth, and I also learned that I could not trust even my own anecdotal observations. So for me, empirical evidence is very important, and using it in an honest scientific study is how to get to the truth.

BTW, the smart guy who did the analysis still had some detractors who insisted that his analysis must be wrong because they had seen the double-six anomaly with their own eyes. The smart guy posted that they were being superstitious, and then moderators had to intervene. I find raising chickens so much more relaxing than playing backgammon these days. :lol:
 
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