Yesterday as I fed my canaries, I noticed spinach leaves in the Border cage which is attached to my Stafford hens cage. The birds like to hop in and out of the attached Border cage so much that I left it attached after their show training.
Since I fed the fresh spinach in the main cage and not in the Border cage, some hen is moving spinach from the main cage to the Border cage. Looking closely, I noticed the spinach leaves were being formed into a rudimentary nest!
Which one of the girls might it be? My chief suspect is the only two year old hen in the cage on the right because older hens tend to come in before younger hens.
Sure enough, I caught her busily working to form a rudimentary nest! Oh no, a panic feeling comes over me. Have I missed judged her? Timing is so important. And I want to make sure she is paired at least five days before laying for maximum fertility.
Even though I did not color fed her last year, she is still a very attractive hen.
Not only is her cap nicely marked but also her wings are evenly marked. Love the wide neck and rounded head on the hen on the right.
A bird in the hand!
Nice circular crest with good height. If she were color fed the yellow would be an attractive red color radiating from the center.
A close up look at her abdomen shows she is getting bare and has some heat although not hot but she still has a ways to go on both of those signs. Click on this photo and note the dry scaly wrinkled appearance of the lower abdomen skin. A hen is ready for pairing should not only be hotter and more bare but the skin should be stretched tight and be glossy indicating she has the proper hormonal condition to mate and breed successfully.
Although she is given a nesting sign, she is not ready! Hens often carry paper and frantically fly back and forth or even try to build a nest a full month before they are ready. Pairing when they are not ready is a waste of time and if more stimulating foods are fed, she will lay darker blue infertile heat eggs. Rushing the hens is a major reason for first round failure!
In addition to assessing abdominal signs, I watch for hens calling to the males and squatting when they hear the breeding song. A hen that squats is ready for pairing now!!