This is the dog I had growing up, Kandie, in the midst of the chickens.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chickens!
All these answers are based on my adventures as a chicken owner. Hope these help. If a question you have isn't on here just shoot me an email at email@example.com (Please put "chickens" or something chicken-like in the subject so it doesn't go to junk mail!) Thanks.
Sinco, my favorite rooster ever.
|Questions about...||Mating||Baby Chicks||Eggs||Sexing||Lifespan||Hatching||Diseases|
NO, a rooster is not needed for a hen to lay an egg! Roosters are only needed in order for the egg to be FERTILIZED (to have a baby). Hens lay eggs with or without a rooster around.
I don't any of the details or anatomy, but all I know is the rooster holds the hen down by the back of her neck and gets on top of her. Sorry this is an elementary explanation. If you want details click here.
The purpose of the rooster is to fertilize the eggs. An egg won't hatch into a baby chick unless the rooster mates with the hen. Most eggs in the store are unfertilized because the hens aren't kept around roosters. Yes the rooster does peck the hen on the head when they mate, but the pecking is not what fertilizing the hen. It's just to hold her down. No, the rooster is not necessary in the hen house. Unless you want to hatch eggs.
Roosters have nothing to do with egg-laying. Hens lay eggs no matter what. (When they are 6 months or older) Roosters do play a part in baby chicks though. If a hen doesn't mate with a rooster then the egg will just be an egg, and could never possibly be a baby chick. If a rooster mates with the hen, the egg the hen lays can be incubated or sat on, and it will hatch. Only when a rooster mates with a hen is there a baby chick in the egg the hen lays.
Chicks, just before they hatch, draw into their abdomen the the nutrients in the egg. Rich in food value and liquid, the yolk provides the newly-hatched chick with all it needs to eat and drink for over 3 days. My advice: Don't NOT feed them for 3 days just because this is true, make sure they have food and water around them all the time quickly after they hatch. This fact though does allow newly hatched chicks to be mailed in a quick fashion without food or water.
It depends, but usually the eggs that you buy at the store are not fertilized. Commercial poultry farmers keep the chickens in small wire cages usually with several other hens. They don't keep any roosters, because they are of no use, unless you need to hatch some baby chicks. I have heard of some store bought eggs being fertilized, but they are probably from a small poultry farmer, and not commercial. If you are to buy eggs "home-grown" they are more likely to be fertilized, because the people who raised them may have a rooster. You can eat fertilized eggs though, because once in the refrigerator the chick embryo does not develop.
The large end.
There are two separate ducts; one for eggs and the other for waste, but one shared exit. Waste never comes into contact with egg, due to duct design. To read more detailed explanation, read "Laying An Egg" by Wiebe H. van der Molen. Thanks for Wendy for giving me this information!!
It is called Chalazae and is made up of the same substance as the egg-white (Albumen) and has nothing to do with fertilization. It's purpose is to keep the yolk correctly oriented in the egg. (According to wikipedia: "In animal eggs, the chalaza is composed of one or two spiral bands of tissue that suspend the yolk in the center of the white. It acts similar to an umbilical cord in mammals; the growing embryo receives its nutrients from the yolk. The purpose of the chalaza is to hold the yolk in place. For culinary use of eggs, particularly in baking, the chalaza is sometimes removed in order to ensure a uniform texture.") *I did not know the answer to this question until Austin found it for me! Thanks Austin.
If they are older chickens you can tell by the crowing. If the chicken crows it's a rooster, and if not it's a hen. Also usually the roosters have much larger combs, but not all the time. If they are chicks you will just have to wait until they crow. Some professionals can tell the chicks gender when they are small, but even they aren't perfect. Want to give it a shot though? Try this website: Sexing chicks
For many years I had answered this question as "No", but recently thanks to an e-mail I learned differently. It is true. It can happen. I e-mailed my professor at University of Missouri and asked this question. This was his reply: "Yes a type of sex reversal does occur in poultry. Both a right and left ovary start to develop in the embryo but between day 7 and 9 of incubation the right gonad ceases to continue development. If in the adult, the left ovary is removed or fails to function the right gonad hypertrophies to become a testis-organ and thus "a male' instead of what was a hen." For some proof you can look at this page by Feathersite. Sex Change in Poultry
Nothing is wrong with the hen- congrats she just wants to be a mom and hatch babies. These hens are called "broody hens". I call this "obsessed" because they won't get off the nest and get mad if you move them. Don't worry- she is probably eating, but only when you aren't around.
Unfortunately there is no way that I know of to get her to stop. We take the eggs from them each day (much to their indignation) and let them do as they please. We had one grey silkie who would try to sit on eggs all the time. She didn't leave the chicken coop/nest box for over a year. We would occasionally throw her outside to make her get some fresh air, but they usually will just return to the nest box anyways. You just have to wait it out.
It will be pretty obvious when a hen is wanting to sit on eggs to hatch them. Usually they NEVER leave the nest. (they obviously are leaving for minutes to get food/water but I never see them do this). They also puff up and try to peck you when you get near, because they think you will try to take their eggs. If you see hens in the nesting box only on occasion it is probably just that they are in the middle of laying an egg. There isn't much you can do in order to get the hens to sit on the eggs and hatch them, you either have a hen who wants to or don't. If you DON'T have any hens who want to hatch eggs (which is fairly common) then you will need to get an incubator to hatch them yourself. If you want to see if the hens might sit on the eggs I would not collect any eggs for 5 days and see what happens. If they are trying to sit on them after that, then you are lucky and can leave them on the eggs to hatch them. But if they are not sitting on them consistently (all day) then you will have to hatch them yourself.
Around 99 degrees.
Usually around 21 days, give or take a few.
In order to have baby chicks hatch from eggs the egg has to both be fertilized (a rooster and hen have to mate before the egg is laid) and be incubated (in 99 degrees for around 21 days). If the hen doesn't sit on the eggs for 21 days then you would have to buy an incubator to use in order to heat the egg for 21 days.
I am not to familiar with all the possible diseases out there since we have not had any birds with diseases, however, there is a couple options I could give you to research more about. It could be that she is egg-bound (symptoms are listlessness and straining), which is usually caused by low calcium. Stress can also cause an egg to be bound, however it doesn't sound like she is stressed. Here is information on How to treat egg-binding, however I am leaning more towards her probably having a disease then being egg bound. Just to be sure, I would give her extra calcium (usually given in the form of oyster shells) if you haven't done that already. The disease that I am thinking it could be is Infectious bronchitis, which can infect the egg-tract and respiratory track. Here is more information: http://www.infectious-bronchitis.com. I am not sure if there is treatment, I know there is a vaccination but I'm not sure if it is preventative or cure. Regardless the shot may be not economical, so you may lose her.