I really want my birds to be ready shortly after I return from the Missouri Valley Basketball Tournament March 9 th. That is nearly a month away and yet what did I find this morning but an egg laid on the cage floor!
Certainly birds should be paired when they are ready and not delayed because it is inconvenient with my schedule but how do I know when the time is right?
First of all the cocks need to be ready and anxious to feed the hen and show off singing ferociously, doing their macho dance and their vent needs to be fully engorged.
The hens need to be flying back and forth frantically with red hot stretched and glossy abdomen, calling to the cocks and lastly assuming a mating position when she hear the breeding song.
Do I even have any hens like that now? No. What I have is a FALSE START dropping an egg here and there! Setting this hen up now is a waste of time and effort.
how long prior to an egg being paid does mating need to occur for an egg to be fertile?
The earlier the mating takes place the better the fertility. The longest I have done was 14 days prior to the first egg was laid.
In that case, I needed a special male for my hen which I did not have so I took her with me to my friends house and put her in a small flight with her male while we set and talked and drank diet Dr. Pepper for a couple of hours. I was worried because it was 14 days till she started laying her first egg and she laid five and all five were fertile. The only contact with a male was the one at my friends house two weeks prior!
Once a hen starts laying it is more difficult to get fertile eggs. If she lays four you will likely only get the last one but if she lays six you could get three. Routinely, I like to have mating take place five days before laying but feel rather comfortable if it is at least 48 hours.
The only way to get more fertile eggs once she starts laying is to increase the number of eggs she lays which can be increased by using products high in amino acids such as AA Miracle Vitamin from Italy available from ABBA Products in US.
On occasion, a hen who drops an egg will not lay daily and then your odds for fertile eggs go up.
Generally, if the hen jumps the gun, I let her lay and set on the infertile eggs for as long as she will and then after a couple of weeks, either she is a foster or I discard her eggs and recycle her. The normal cycle when a hen has chicks is to be ready to mate again when the chicks are 14 days old. So it is important to reintroduce a cock at least for mating at that time. Care must be taken that the chicks are safe so I keep a watchful eye at that time and use a divider if necessary.
thank you. that is surprising that you had such success 14 days a head! Barb
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