Friday, March 6, 2009

Feeding Behavior, The Indicator of Mating Readiness

Encouraging the Hen to Invite Mating

Wednesday was the sixth treatment with the ABBA water soluble vitamin E in the water for the cocks and the third treatment for the hens. As I evaluate the birds they are coming along nicely except I would like to see the non-paired birds feeding eat other more. The reason being that this is a good indicator that when paired with a mating ready cock, the hen will invite mating by begging and squatting for the cock. Although I have stressed the the cocks need to have the right vent development, I believe it is actually the hen inviting mating which is the most important factor in whether eggs will be fertile!!!

So I dropped the carbohydrates, bread and oatmeal, and increase the protein in all birds diet. To the regular seed mix which has added sunflower pieces and song food, I have added some hemp seed and bee pollen. I also dusted the mix generously with petamine breeding formula and Lewis Lab brand of Brewer's Yeast. Within 24 hours, the hens abdomens are hotter and feeding behavior is greatly increased! Note: I do not offer any egg containing eggfood till I pair the birds. It is fed daily to paired birds till the last egg is laid and then again when the first chick hatches.

The border hen pictured was trying to sit in a seed dish on the floor, but when I checked her a couple of days before I changed the diet, she was only slightly swollen, no heat, and certainly no skin glistening. Today, just 24 hours after the diet changes, see is hot, the skin is glistening and swelling has increased. I immediately paired her with an appropriate breeding ready border cock and she begged to be feed eggfood, squatted and invited mating several times before I could even grab the camera!! I placed a nest in the cage and she went to it and started building. When the hen immediately goes to the nest after mating, it is a good sign it was a successful mating!

If my timing is excellent, she will lay within five days of being paired. I actually prefer her to lay in five days as fertility is higher if mating occurs up to 14 days before laying than if the hen lays the following day. Once on a Saturday, I took a breeding ready hen with me to my friend Janice Klein's house and put her with one of Janice's cocks in a flight cage. While Janis and I drank Dr. Pepper and visited, the birds mated. I then took the hen home and put her in a breeding cage. She laid her first egg two weeks later, and all five eggs were fertile!

Today's Principle: If the hen is begging to be fed and the cock is feeding her, relax and don't give it a second thought, nature is working fine!!

This weekend, I will be at the National Cage Bird Board Meeting in Tulsa. So, I will not be positing again till Monday.

1 comment:

Richard's Roost said...

I have noticed the same thing on the second round. Generally the hens are more receptive/fertile if I put them with the cock around day 17 after round 1 hatched, than if I wait til later.