Feed Store Chicken Lottery

The Pullet is a Rooster? Options and Solutions

They’re pullets, all female, and that’s why you bought those cute little chicks from the feed store. You certainly didn’t expect to get stuck with a rooster, but now you’re the unlucky one who has fallen into that teeny tiny margin of error and have an unwanted cockerel.

Considering your Options

Check your city ordinances, roosters are often banned in suburban areas, so considering the impossibility of hiding him, an eviction notice is definitely in order. I know this is a hard decision, but it only takes one neighbor to complain and the law will be snooping and sniffing around your property.

If you are allowed to have a rooster you still may have a problem if you already have one. Rule of thumb… more than one rooster to a flock is a no-no.  Another thing to consider is your hen’s eggs are going to be fertile, not exactly an ideal situation if you’re selling eggs.

Not all chicken keepers raise meat birds, so us folks who keep only layers have completely ruled out killing and cooking one of our own birds for dinner. That’s an art in itself, and if you’re like me, one better left to somebody else.

Check with the feed store you bought the bird from, sometimes they’ll take it back.  But realistically, most unwanted cockerels share the same fate, a dinner plate.

If the feed store idea is a bust, it’s time to re-home the roo. Ask  friends who might live in a more rural area. The almighty Craig’s List has come through for me time and time again. Last year I had six roosters to re-home, and they all sold for $5 bucks each.  Just keep in mind, cock fighting does exist, so weed out the riff raff and dust off your good judge of character skills.

Beat the Odds of the Chicken Lottery

There is a solution to that 1% margin of error when buying sexed chicks.  If you want to be assured you’ll never get stuck with a rooster again, buy sex-linked chicks.  They’re idiot proof in the sexing department because the hens hatch one color and the roosters another.  They’re hardy, and I wouldn’t be surprise if they wrote the book on egg laying.

Sex Link Chickens

Two common varieties are the black sex-link (also called Black Stars) and the red sex-link (also called Red Stars).

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Promoting the Dominique

The Dominique, also known as Dominicker,  originated  in the United States. They are considered America’s oldest breed of chicken, probably descending from chickens brought to New England from southern England during the Colonial Era.  However, most modern Dominiques may be traced to stock developed by A. Q. Carter after 1900.

TBN’ Ranch’s Dominique Hen, ‘Mamma Too”

By the 19th century, they were widely popular and were raised in many parts of the country. The Dominique is a dual purpose breed, being valued for meat and their brown eggs. They weigh 5 to 7 pounds at maturity, are considered cold hardy, good mothers, and adapt well to confinement or free range. They are early to mature, and although sometimes considered flighty, I personally find then extremely calm. The birds’ plumage pattern, also known as “hawk coloring”, offers some protection against some aerial predators.

Egg Production

Although categorized as a dual-purpose breed, these birds are first and foremost egg producers with hens averaging 230-275  medium-sized brown eggs.

Sexing Dominique Chicks

Sexing the Dominique is really pretty simple, with about a 95% accuracy.  The cockerels have yellow shanks and toes, the pullets have a grayish black coloration on the front of their shanks and also on the top of their toes.  The color differences become less apparent as the chicks mature.

Popularity Concerns

Since the 1920’s the Dominique’s popularity was on a steady decline, by 1970 only four known flocks remained.  Dedicated breeders participated in a breed rescue and their numbers showed a rise in numbers from 1983 to 2006.  By 2007, once again a decline was observed.  Presently,the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has put the Dominique on the ‘Watch’ list.

Of all the breeds of chickens I’ve kept here on the farm, the Dominique is by far my favorite.  They are very sweet, hardy, and most important in these parts, tolerant to our hot summer temperatures that climb above 110.

I hope other chicken keepers will give them a second look next time they buy chicks. Let’s get them off that watch list shall we?

Cominique

Who is the ALBC?

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy ensures the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect over 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are asses, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Founded in 1977, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is the pioneer organization in the U.S. working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. We hope you’ll browse through these pages and learn more about the diverse and valuable agricultural heritage that is ours to enjoy and to steward.

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At 3 or 4 Months, Hen or Rooster?

Here’s a Helpful Hint on How to Tell

I chose this particular breed of chicken because sexing them is quite apparent by looking at their legs & feet. However, some breeds aren’t that easy, the Silkie in particular. But most heavy breeds like the Rocks, and Orphingtons it’s pretty obvious. Hope this little trick is helpful!

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The Fertilization of a Chicken Egg

Basic Reproduction Explained

Silver Laced Polish

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.

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