When should I breed my hens

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by emerald eyes, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. emerald eyes

    emerald eyes Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 22, 2011
    Sorry, for the multiple questions, but this is the first time I have had roosters in my flock.
    I have three laying hens (18 months) and a new flock containing 5 cockerels and 25 pullets (18 weeks). I am wondering when I should start taking the eggs away from the laying hens for incubation or even worrying about the eggs being fertilized.

    Eventually, we would like to breed the new flock with 2 of the cockerels (I plan to give 3 away), but I am unsure when to separate the pullets from the roosters to prevent unwanted breeding? When is the best time to breed the pullets with the cockerels? Would it be recommended to wait for spring to incubate the eggs so the chicks can be placed outside when feathered (+/- 4 weeks), we are approaching winter here and my coop is not heated or insulated?

    My chickens roam free during the day, so if I separate the roos from the hens, should I not let them out at the same time?

    Lastly, we were selling our eggs from the older flock; however when a predator attacked during the summer, we lost all but the 3 hens. Eventually, we would like to continue selling the eggs retrieved from the 25 pullets. Can fertilized eggs be eaten? If so, when should I refrigerate the eggs? Do the eggs taste better if they are not fertilized?
     
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Quote:You don't have to separate the cockerels. They only reason you'd have to worry about Chicks is if you let the eggs be sat on. I personally would wait till spring. It's getting pretty cold and I prefer to give the birds winter off. Fertilized eggs can be eaten but please let your customers know they are fertilized. Some people have a issues with that. I would refrigerate the eggs just to be safe. I don't believe their is a taste difference.
     
  3. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    I have my cockerels in with my pullets. They eggs may not be fertile at first as it can take awhile for the cockerels to become fertile. They will practice mating with the pullets. I eat my fertile eggs. I can't tell any difference in taste. I have a customer who buys fertile eggs from me to eat. Just crack open an egg once in awhile and look for the bulls-eye to see if the eggs are fertile. You can separate the boys but there is really no reason to unless you don't want fertile eggs or the boys start fighting. I always put my egg right into the fridge after collecting them but I do sell them. When the birds do start mating all of the eggs may not be fertile at first but as they continue to get older, more eggs will become fertile.
     
  4. billiejo21

    billiejo21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We bought a group of chicks, supposed to be 9 pullets and one roo...as they grew, we questioned whether 5 of the pullets were actually roos, but the breeder assured us they were hens...when they were 4 months old, there was no doubt, they were roos!!! The breeder gave us 5 more pullets, but didn't want the roos back and told us to keep them. Around 5 months, the roos started crowing, shortly after we noticed they were beginning to breed our hens (we have about 25 hens in this pen)...shortly after that, our egg production dropped by 50%. We removed the 5 extra roos (along with one other we were not planning to keep) because we felt the extra roos were stressing the girls out. About 4 days after removing the roos, our production began to increase and a week later we are back to normal. I had read that having too many roos could cause a decrease in production, and I can attest to that...I don't think that will be a big problem at this point, but just be aware that all those extra roos might cause an issue once they become sexually mature. As far as eating fertilized eggs...I don't notice a difference at all in taste, there's only a minimal difference in appearance (the bullseye) and that can be hard to notice even if you are looking for it!! I think a lot of farm fresh eggs are fertilized as most people keep a roo for protection and also to continue to replenish their flock. Not every egg will be fertilized even with several roosters...look up checking for bullseyes here and that will help you to figure out if your roos are getting things done!!! Good luck!
     
  5. emerald eyes

    emerald eyes Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 22, 2011
    Quote:Thanks for the information.

    I had the same thing happen, I purchased 25 brown egg laying hens from McMurray; however 4 of the 25 are roos. The company refunded the purchase price of the 4 roos (@2.50 each, the cost of the day old chicks) without question. I am wondering if this is a common occurrence because they seemed all too eager to credit my account. I have noticed the roos are starting to become protective of the hens, except for the 3 laying hens (probably because they didn't grow up with the 18 month old hens). Today, two of the roos approached me as I picked up the pullets, which I have been doing to get them used to being picked up (I treat them like pets and actually stroke their feathers to calm them down).

    I have found that the hens are not laying as many eggs as they used to prior to combining them with the flock of 25 youngsters. In fact, I haven't seen any eggs in the last two days; however they slowed laying last year when winter was approaching and daylight was limited. My roos are 18 weeks old and are beginning to crow in the morning and when I approach them, so I am wondering if the roos are stressing out the hens or if they are simply reacting to being kept with the youngsters. The older hens used to peck at the 21 pullets (even at the roos) although this week I noticed that they are becoming less aggressive and backing away from the roos). The 21 pullets are about the same size as the laying hens, so that might account for the change. The 4 roos are much bigger than the laying hens, we knew they were boys over a month ago when their feet were huge and they were double the size of the rest of the chicks!

    I have heard that adding a roo to a flock helps with protecting the hens. My neighbor has 3 roos (they crow all day long..hope mine decide to give us some quiet time) and they haven't been attacked by the coyotes, fox, raccoon and fisher cats that have been around my coop. In fact there is a house up the street, they keep their chickens outside (no coop) and they haven't been attacked yet...I think there are 3 roos with that flock. Although our friend who lives next door to the cage free chickens got hit by a raccoon in the middle of the day (she now wants one of our roos for protection). Since adding the 25 youngsters, I haven't seen any fox or raccoon tracks around the coop, which is definately a bonus after losing 8 hens during the summer. So sad to find a dead chicken in the coop and the remaining hens so stressed out. We were going crazy trying to secure the hens, the raccoon even clawed at the bolted coop door when I started locking them up at night.

    When the 5 month old roos started breeding with the hens, did you find many fertilized eggs? I sometimes wait a few days to collect the eggs since there are only 3 hens laying (they don't lay everyday), so sometimes there might be 5-6 eggs in the nest. I am wondering if I should be taking the eggs each day (although the evening temps are about 40 with days about 50...and only getting colder!).
     
  6. emerald eyes

    emerald eyes Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 22, 2011
    Quote:You don't have to separate the cockerels. They only reason you'd have to worry about Chicks is if you let the eggs be sat on. I personally would wait till spring. It's getting pretty cold and I prefer to give the birds winter off. Fertilized eggs can be eaten but please let your customers know they are fertilized. Some people have a issues with that. I would refrigerate the eggs just to be safe. I don't believe their is a taste difference.

    I will remember not to allow sitting on eggs until this spring. I have two Buff Orphs that went broody last spring. I couldn't get them off the nest and actually had to force them to drink & lock them out of the coop so they would forage. I would no sooner take them off the nest & they would be running right back to sit. They were mean too, often pecking & screaming at me whenever I was trying to collect eggs. Eventually, the broodiness passed (about three weeks later). A friend of ours wants some fertilized eggs, maybe I will loan the broody hen to help with incubating the eggs! Are there any other breeds that go broody? Our delawares and rhode island reds didn't seem to be effected, only the black sex-linked and buffs seemed to sit on the nest (even empty nesting boxes) for days at a time.
     
  7. cowpiesnhorseapplesfarm

    cowpiesnhorseapplesfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 21, 2011
    Belgrade Montana
    I have people buy eggs from me looking specifically for the fertilized eggs. I have been told they are more nutritous. As for too many roos. When I know for sure that I am overloaded. I usually know by than the "best" or the ones I am going to keep and I do go ahead and separate the rest. I havent seen an issue with excess roos(raised from hatchlings) being together. But I have had issues with too many roos in with hens. As for racoons, ugh [​IMG] I have lost a few this last summer to them, my silkies [​IMG] We are raising silkies strictly for incubators and I lost 2 of them (hens) in one night by coons. We are picking up guardian Pyr. dog's next week just due to this. Hang in there you will figure out what works for you and what doesnt.
     

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