Monday, April 27, 2009
Enhancing Second Round Yield
More Chicks From Your Second Round
Second clutches have the potential for producing as many or even more chicks than the first round! But it is critical that the cock be with the hen when her chicks are 14 days old. That is easy if you are doing single pairing as he will be there when he is needed to mate with the hen for her next clutch of eggs.
If you are letting the hen raise the first round by herself, you need to have a cock back in her cage by the 14 th day. This will allow plenty of time for mating before the first round chicks leave the nest and at least five or more days till she lays the first egg of her second clutch. You can easily switch cocks for the second clutch by introducing the new cock on the 14 th day. Introducing him after the chicks have left the nest will decrease second clutch fertility and may result in the cock picking on the chicks!
The top photo is the nest of two German rollers and the one fostered Stafford. Besides the crest on the Stafford notice the peach color of his feathering which is the color you see when you have non-colored fed red factor genes. Today, I put the DKB 5002 cock back in their cage in preparation for the second clutch.
Hens often lay more eggs in the second clutch because she has been feeding nutritious egg food to her chicks that is high in the essential amino acids such methionine and lysine from the ABBA Miracle vitamins that are added to my egg food. The bottom photo is a clutch of seven eggs laid on the second clutch (another hen has eight). That is too many eggs for the hen to cover well. If an egg appears infertile, it is best to discard it when there are too many eggs. The second and third photo are the chicks that hatched from the seven egg clutch pictured. One egg was infertile and one fertile egg may still hatch tomorrow!
With chicks still in the cage when the hen lays, you need to promptly collect the eggs each morning when they are laid so that they do not get excessively soiled. If they do get soiled, set them along with the other eggs but do not wash them. As I addressed in a previous blog posting, some of these eggs will hatch if you do not wash them!
My routine is to feed egg food to all cages with hen dependent chicks or weaned chicks first thing when the light comes on in the morning. Any delay in getting the food out, can result in chicks not being fed and their demise. That is 6:30 AM. At 7:00 AM, I have a full sit down breakfast with the family and return to gather eggs at exactly 8:00 AM. Most of my hens lay between 7:30 and 8:00 with only an occasional one laying after 8:00. Do not disturb the hen while she is laying or she may lay her egg off the perch! After gathering eggs, I give greens to all cages with banded or weaned chicks and all other cages except those with sitting hens. I also refill the hemp dishes in all the cages and return to the aviary after lunch to give more egg food, seeds, mineral grit/egg shells, and fresh water. I offer egg food and again around 5 PM for last feeding. Several days a week I work at the hospital usually on second shift (2:30 to 11 PM) and need to get my husband to do the 5 PM feeding. Occasionally, like this Friday, I am working a day shift and will need to leave by 7:40 AM at the latest so I hope I do not miss too many eggs...Thursday, I will get as many chicks out of the laying cages as possible to cut the damage.
Today's Lesson: For high fertility in the second round, it is critical to get the second clutch mating accomplished early before the first clutch chicks leave the nest!