The Basic Reproduction Process Explained
As in all animals, the fusion of ovum and a sperm is how fertilization occurs. Then an embryo forms and develops into a new organism. The chicken is no exception; their eggs need to be fertilized in order to develop a chick.
A chicken will begin laying eggs between five and six months of age, until then she is called a pullet. However, climate, seasons, and other various factors do play a significant role in laying cycles. Certain breed types are also included in the variances of egg laying, first time or otherwise. One thing for sure, when a pullet reaches sexual maturity she will lay eggs whether or not there is a rooster present.
Roosters [males] have reproductive organs which produce sperms that are released during mating. The sperms enter the oviduct of the hen [female] and continues a nearly week long reproductive journey to meet the eggs. The sperms final destination is in the infundibulum. This is where they will wait about a week for the partially formed and unshelled eggs. If there is a yolk, the eggs are fertilized instantly. So, it’s safe to say you can expect fertile eggs seven to ten days after mating.
Note: It is possible the hen may produce fertile eggs the following week as well.
When hens are in the presence of a rooster there is a way to separate the fertilized eggs from infertile by a technique called candling. This method uses a bright light source behind the egg to show details through the shell. Fertilized eggs will show a darker yolk on one end, usually when they are one or two days old. Within two to three days, if incubated, you may actually see indications of a growing embryo.
Looking for a Chicken Feast
Last night a giant owl discovered my chicken yards. Camped overhead and intently scouting the property for a feast. Fortunately, all my hens are in fenced enclosures with aviary netting atop. I do have one bird at slight risk, my new little Sizzle hen. She lives in the barn with our burro, Beamer. Jojo sleeps in a box on top of the hay pile, and during the day stays close to her donkey pal. For once I’m glad Beamer’s opinions concerning intruders are so obnoxiously LOUD. I can only hope the ruckus by a crazy ass in the barn will discourage the owls quest.
The Harris Hawk Also Visits TBN… Again
These beautiful unwelcome birds of prey are not strangers to the ranch, but this is the first time they showed up in numbers. Perched high above the chicken yard, they watch, then circle, and slowly move in closer. Once they see the aviary netting they diligently look for an entry. When their efforts prove unsuccessful, they get extremely agitated and vocal.
- Harris Hawks, Actual Birds
They’ve been easy to photograph because they aren’t the least bit intimidated by me. They stand their ground by making loud squawking noises, then spread their 3-4 ft wing span in an attempt to scare me… it works.
- Harris Hawk, Actual Birds
Two years ago this Harris Hawk grabbed my 6 lb. Rhode Island Red hen, Martha. Luckily, we were able to rescue her. Thanks to our house cat Eddy who witnessed the near catastrophe from a bedroom window. The hawk swooped down from the roof and landed on top of Martha, Eddy had such a fit we looked out the window to see what was going on.
If the hawk wasn’t alone that day we never would have had time to save Martha, it must have struggled with the hen because of her size. Considering Harris Hawks usually work together, it was only a matter of time before the family would be invited to the feast. This is when the grueling task of hanging aviary netting began.
- Martha’s Predator, a Harris Hawk