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basic Hen-Rooster question

 
Dean Collins
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hey dumb question but city slicker with no chicken experience.......

I read this online
"the hen does not ever need to be around a rooster to lay them. chickens don`t have a choice in whether or not to lay eggs, they have to. also, a chick will not start to develop in the egg until it has started being incubated. that is why a hen will lay an egg a day in her nest, then if she`s feeling 'broody' after a week or so, she will start to sit on them.. they won`t start developing until she does start sitting, which is natures way of making sure they all hatch around the same time."


Is this correct?
Eg can you eat a fertilized egg as long as it hasn't been sat on/incubated? Do you have to have a rooster to get your first set of eggs? (eg like a cow with milk)
How do farmers keep chickens and roosters when most of the time they want eggs but sometimes they want to hatch chicks for meat or to refresh their stock?
Do you keep the roosters separate and sometimes put some hens into their run (like you do with rabbits) to have them fertilized then keep them separate until they finish brooding? (so you dont mix up the non fertilized eggs).

Lastly how often can a hen have another set of chicks?



Lol so many questions and no experience with the birds and the bees
 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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you never need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs. once she is old enough she starts laying. roosters are nice to have because a good one will take good care of the hens but not at all necessary. farmers who have roosters and hens have enough hens to rooster ratio to keep everyone happy and they cull the extra roosters. not sure if cull is the right word but basically the extras end up as chicken soup. I could be worng on some things i don't have any chickens but I plan to get some in the spring and have been doing a lot of reading.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Yes, as previous poster said you do not need the rooster for the egg. Just like with human animals the female creates eggs whether they are fertilized by the male or not. With human females the fertilized eggs stay inside and the unfertilized eggs are shed along with the lining of the uterus during menstruation but with birds both the fertilized and unfertilized eggs come out and the bird must sit on them to keep them warm if they are to develop.

You can eat the fertilized eggs - we do it all the time. Some cultures even eat the eggs that have birds that are fairly developed in them -- not something I care to do but each culture has their own preferences.

I read somewhere that two roosters to a flock increases the protection of the flock by the roosters. Don't know if this is true but this year I have two roosters and I am seeing that they are both very protective and watchful of the flock. One is very much in charge and as long as the two don't start fighting I'm good with keeping both of them. Genetic diversity and all that.

I handle my roosters a lot ( alot ) because I have sustained a serious injury from a rooster years ago -- so far these boys are not being aggressive towards me.
 
Dean Collins
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I get that once a hen reaches puberty that they will start egg production (and understand its every 24-28 hours for good layers) and have also read that a hen can "store sperm" internally for up to 4 weeks to fertilize eggs as they are produced but what i dont understand is if you take an egg away from a hen does this "stop" embryo development by putting the egg into the fridge?

In the same way how do hens end up "hatching" multiple chicks at the same time if they only lay eggs once a day and then need to sit on them for about 3 weeks?

Also do you need to keep your roosters/hens in a separate pen that you are wanting to breed chicks from the hens that you are just keeping for egg production? or if you get a different breed is this enough to stop the rooster trying to breed with them?

I was planning on having a coop with run and free range so thinking maybe i can keep layers and meaties in the same coop but allow them into the run/free range on alternate days to stop my layers getting impregnated.

Lastly i'm assuming hens "stop" egg production when they are brooding and sitting on eggs? or do they continue to lay but get "off the nest" to go and lay eggs elsewhere?

lol sorry for so many questions.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Dean Collins wrote:t what i dont understand is if you take an egg away from a hen does this "stop" embryo development by putting the egg into the fridge?


Ideally eggs for hatching should be stored at a particular temperature and humidity to keep the fertilized egg in stasis, but usually they are just kept at "room temperature" by the hen as she accumulates a clutch.

Dean Collins wrote:In the same way how do hens end up "hatching" multiple chicks at the same time if they only lay eggs once a day and then need to sit on them for about 3 weeks?


The hen will usually not sit on the eggs until she has accumulated enough for a clutch, this will be her decision what constitutes "enough eggs" but you can help by giving her additional fertilized eggs from other hens.

Dean Collins wrote:Also do you need to keep your roosters/hens in a separate pen that you are wanting to breed chicks from the hens that you are just keeping for egg production? or if you get a different breed is this enough to stop the rooster trying to breed with them?


If you keep a rooster with your laying hens all the eggs are likely to be fertilized, but fertile eggs are perfectly fine for eating. A rooster will mate with any hen he is capable of mounting, doesn't matter what breed. Very tiny roosters may have trouble mating with very large hens and very large roosters can injure or even kill small hens, so the sizes should not be dramatically different. It's better to have a small rooster and larger hens than vice versa. For instance my roosters are all bantams and some of my hens are standard size, but I would never put a standard or giant rooster with bantam hens. A standard rooster with standard hens will produce "chicken sized" chickens.

Dean Collins wrote:I was planning on having a coop with run and free range so thinking maybe i can keep layers and meaties in the same coop but allow them into the run/free range on alternate days to stop my layers getting impregnated.


Some hens may go broody whether they are with a rooster or not. These hens will sit on any eggs they can get, fertile or not. The brooding instinct seems to be completely separate from the mating instinct, oddly enough. A hen doesn't care if she's hatching her own eggs or someone else's; any chick she hatches is "her chick" even if genetically it is unrelated to her.

Dean Collins wrote:Lastly i'm assuming hens "stop" egg production when they are brooding and sitting on eggs? or do they continue to lay but get "off the nest" to go and lay eggs elsewhere?


Once she has a clutch of eggs and begins to set them, the hen won't lay any more eggs. She generally won't begin to lay again until the batch of chicks are old enough to fend for themselves and she abandons them to get on with her normal henly life, which might be to start another clutch of eggs to hatch if she's an especially good brooder!

I hope this helps!
 
Kyle Burdick
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Don't worry about eggs being fertilized or not. If they aren't warm, then they won't develop. So just keep up on picking them up, and there is nothing to fear.

If you want to hatch chicks, then you need to make sure the hen has her own space, isn't bothered to much, and obviously you don't want to pick those eggs. I think most people seperate a brooding hen from the rest of the flock in this scenario.

As far as multiple chicks under one chicken... I don't know whats "natural" for a mother to do, but you can take other eggs from other chickens that have been fertilized and put them under one brooding chicken. Just make sure she has enough butt to cover them all.

A rooster doesn't care what breed hes penned with. It will try to screw anything. At least that's my take. Some chickens don't breed well because of biology or physical traits. But if you do your research, there is no reason why your basic homesteader breeds won't cross.

Again, don't worry about your layers getting impregnated. Just keep pick your eggs everyday.

 
Jay Green
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I get that once a hen reaches puberty that they will start egg production (and understand its every 24-28 hours for good layers) and have also read that a hen can "store sperm" internally for up to 4 weeks to fertilize eggs as they are produced but what i dont understand is if you take an egg away from a hen does this "stop" embryo development by putting the egg into the fridge?


You don't have to store eggs in the fridge and many, many people do not. The chick embryo will not develop unless conditions are conducive for doing so...pretty constant 99.5 degree temps and appropriate humidity levels. You can leave eggs sitting in the coop or on the counter on 100 degree days for days on end and never have embryo development going on. It's just not that simple or folks would just put eggs out in the sun and have chicks.

Hens cannot become impregnated. They can be mated and their eggs can become fertilized and this is a good thing. Just because they are fertilized doesn't mean this puts the hen into a broody state of being...we should all be so lucky! Some breeds never go broody, some go broody quite a bit, some hens of even broody breeds never go broody. It's all hormonal and instinctual. Some breeds have had the "broody" trait bred out of their genetics so that they are more egg productive.

Here's a fine place to learn everything you ever want to know about chickens:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/new
posts/filter/participated
 
John Polk
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As far as mixing your meat birds with your egg birds, don't worry about it.
Most meat birds get butchered before they mature enough to mate.

If you want to raise more chicks, move your (selected) mothers and the rooster to a separate area. That way you can keep the fertile eggs apart from the rest.

 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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In nature, this is the chickens lifestyle.

Roosters are brightly colored and the predators get a lot of them, and so a flock of chickens will have a few hens to every rooster.

Hens lay when they are old enough and it is summer time, whether they have met a rooster or not. A hen makes a proper nest somewhere, and many hens will use the same nest. When a hen goes broody she will set on the eggs, and at tht time she will try to chase off any other hen who tries to lay in "her" nest. At that time, and NOT before, the chicks will start to develop. They will all hatch within 48 hours.

Because hens lay in the summer, which is an ideal time to raise babies, they usually stop laying in the winter unless you use lights to give them a longer day. To a chicken, a longer day length means it is summer and they will lay!

Don't worry about whether or not an egg is fertilized. Seriously. The "chick" is only a couple of cells unless and until the egg is incubated! And, the "chick" STAYS as a couple of cells unless it is!

And, if the eggs are collected before a hen is broody and starts to set, then the chickens simply do not care.
 
Jay Green
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Some breeds may slow down and/or stop laying for a short while in the winter months, but experienced flock keepers choose breeds that are more cold hardy and productive during winter months~without any additional lighting~so that they can continue to get eggs throughout the winter months. Lighting up your chickens merely helps burn out your flock faster and will require you replace those burned out birds more quickly than you should normally have to do.

Ideally, it is wise to choose a mixture of breeds who slow down in the winter and those who do not, so that you can keep a rolling productivity level going that insures you have eggs all year round but you also have breeds who go broody enough to replenish your laying hens as they get too old and must be culled. Most breeds who lay through the winter won't also be the birds who go broody each spring...they may be the breeds who never go broody in your flock, though there are always exceptions.

 
wayne stephen
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We have kept our flock of hens both with a rooster and without over the years . A good rooster adds a dynamic to the daily life of the hens. He is on the alert for danger and signals the hens when danger is around. This allows them to concentrate on scratching for food , they perk up and flee when he gives his alert signal. Of course they signal each other too. A good rooster finds food for the others when he has had his fill. He will point his head down at the food , spread his wings out slightly , tap dance a bit and make this specific cook , cook , cook sound - they all come running and he lets them eat .He then goes off to find more food for the hens. They make a nice sound in the morning. Sometimes when they reach a certain age and have a full set of spurs , they become psychotic devil birds and it's either you or them. When there is no rooster in the flock I have seen hens try and crow , even try to mount one another. I name all my roosters T-Rex as genome studies have shown that the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaur is the chicken. Try to picture a 30 ft tall chicken coming at you and you get the picture. All in all , you don't need a rooster unless you want hatchings or fertilized eggs , but we keep them because of aesthetics and flock dynamics. We have found Rhode Island Reds to be the most agressive and most likely to become psychotic devil birds . Right now we have a Buff Orpington and he is very mellow . I fear he may be too docile to deal with coons and canines , we will see. 5 years with a free range flock and this all I know.
 
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