Tuesday, June 2, 2009
False Breeding Signals
Should this hen be paired?
This hen has raised only one clutch of three chicks. Her chicks left the nest yesterday and she is hopping around, flapping her wings and setting now and then in the nest. These are signs of breeding readiness but before pairing her with a cock, you need to take a look at her abdomen and answer a few questions?
Is it shiny (ready) or dry and scaly (not ready)? Is the abdomen hot (ready) or just warm (not ready)? Is the skin stretched tight (ready) or is it wrinkled (not ready)? Is the hen pleasantly plump (ready) or thin (not ready)? It her breast bone sharp (not ready)?
After examining this hen it is clear that even with the behavior indicating she wants to be paired, she is not physically fit for breeding and her breeding season this year is over. So as soon as her chicks are weaned, she will be put in a flight with other hens. I will give her the first clue that the breeding season is over by dropping protein levels in her diet. First, I will offer the milo and corn fine grind mix free choice. This an excellent food to feed now to weaned chicks and any birds that you want to discourage from breeding. (Information on the fine grind milo and corn is in the February 9th post.) In addition, hens that are not getting ready to lay or feeding babies are not feed egg food and this will greatly drop the proteins in their diet.