Thursday, May 14, 2009

I need some info that I can't seem to find online. What? Some kind of knowledge that isn't available on the web? Yep. I wouldn't have thought it possible. Maybe it's somewhere and I'm just not doing the right search. Seems like lots of farmers would know this one. Aha! Maybe that's the problem. Farmers don't have the time to be online as much as I am?

(Kara, I bet you know this one.)

If I want to get fertilized eggs and bring them home to put under my broody hen, how do I go about doing this? Will they die if they get cold? Do I have to somehow get them directly after they come out of the chicken? Or is it not as touchy as all that? My sister has an Americauna hen and I'd love to have some of her chicks, but... I don't know how to do this.

By the way, speaking of broody hens, mine that gets broody is a Buff Orpington. (Her name is Goldie, after my favorite hen when I was a teenager.) I recently read that the desire to hatch eggs is strong in the breed. So if you want a good layer that won't cause trouble by getting broody, don't get them. But if you want to hatch chicks (and have very pretty dual purpose birds) I highly recommend them. I love to watch Goldie's fat hen butt when she runs. Cracks me up! She's also the friendliest hen we have.

Another thing I've wondered, although I don't really need to know right now since I don't have (or want) a rooster, is this: How long after fertilization is the fertilized egg laid? Say if I brought a rooster home tomorrow, how long after the two "do their business" before I'd have fertile eggs? I might have this info in one of my books but I'm being lazy.

Sorry, not horse related. But fascinating stuff. Or maybe it's just me...


Lady Of Chaos said...

I had a broody hen sitting on a pile of dead eggs. So, I went to CL and asked if anyone had any fertile eggs. I picked up a dozen, in a regular egg carton - NOT chilled - and took them home and just put them one by one underneath her. Every single one of the hatched. AS long as they aren't chilled they're fine. No special heat needed until they get to the hen. She takes care of that.

Chickens will lay thier egg a day (average) but won't clutch until they feel they have enough, the eggs remain fertile but don't actually grow much until the hen incubates them by sitting on them. It's taken some of my hens 3 weeks to get enough eggs in the nest to clutch, had one hen clutch out 37 chicks... Don't ask me how...

As for the rooster... the answer is immediately, pretty much. Each egg starts out small, grows to a certain size, then gets laid, usually once a day, the next egg doesn't start getting real big until the first egg is laid. The rooster fertilizes the egg as many times a day as he can lol. Basically every egg laid after the rooster arrives could be fertilized. The first one might not be depending on 'when' in the 'growing' process the rooster ummm tried to fertilize it. :) Umm sometimes they miss and eggs will be laid that aren't fertilized... not for lack of trying though.

Good luck!

Kara said...

Yep, what LOC said.

You should be able to keep eggs for a week easily before you start them incubating. And they'd probably be good for another week or two, but the hatch rate declines as the egg gets older. They are good as long as they haven't been chilled, but to store them before incubation, keep them in a cool place (around 50-60 degrees F, but we had the last batch in the house at 70 degrees), stored fat end up (so the air space will be up), and the cool place should not get below I think 55% humidity. Probably do 55-60% humidity. If they are stored in a very dry place, they will lose too much water before you set them incubating. Most hens do well with clutches of 6-12...even at 12, she might not be big enough to be able to warm all the eggs and some might not hatch because of that.

You could definitely collect an egg a day from your sister's araucana and set 8-10 under her without decreasing their hatch rate. I guess it is up to the hen then...will she get broody and set? We have buff orpington's too, and one was getting broody, but we kept collecting eggs and not a single hen has tried to be broody in a couple of months. The buff orpington/araucana cross chicks are my favorite...they are the orange ones with brown stripes on their backs.

And hens will not start to set until they think they have enough eggs...maybe you should let her start laying without collecting her eggs and when it looks like she might be thinking about starting to incubate, swap them out for eggs that are fertile. I'm not sure how easy a broody hen is to scare of a nest (some are more sensitive than others), but probably you would want to do it only a couple at a time (maybe over the course of a day or two), like LOC said, so that she doesn't all of a sudden go from warm eggs that she'd started to incubate to cold eggs. That might make her give up on them. Chickens are cool...even if the eggs started incubating a couple days apart, the chicks communicate with eachother inside the eggs the last few days and can synchronize their hatching. I think it is even more precise when they are brooded by a real hen who also communicates with them during their last few days of incubation.

And the rooster can start fertilizing immediately, and hens can store sperm from the rooster inside their bodies too, so even if you only had a rooster for a week or two, fertile eggs can still be laid for a couple weeks after...

I love hatching chicks and raising chickens. If you have any other questions, I'd love to talk about them!

Kara said...

You might also be able to get fertile eggs at the farmer's market in Moscow...just ask them if they have a rooster and if the eggs have been in a fridge. Tell them you'd like to hatch some.

Kara said...

And did you know that you can buy eggs on ebay? Just search "chicken hatching eggs". I hatched some eggs from ebay one year. The hatch rate is definitely lower from the jumbling that occurs during shipping, but I got about 50% of the eggs to hatch!

Andrea said...

Thanks for all the info! Fascinating stuff!

Goldie is a very dedicated broody hen. She'll sit on an empty nest for as long as you let her and you can't get her off of it without force. She's like a cat trying to stay out of a bath, only she's trying to stay IN her nesting box. It's really annoying when there are no eggs to hatch.

Cool, I can't wait to put some eggs under her.

Flying Cowgirl said...

When I delivered the mail for a short while, someone had eggs in the mail. I was a bit surprised and tried to take special care in delivering them since the people were not home.