Several independent factors in concert bring the best breeding results. Unfortunately any one of the three can push the hens into laying infertile eggs.
First: Changes in day length and light intensity. Smaller size varieties will breed on as little as 12 hours but even they do better with 14 hours light plus 30 minute dimmer.
Second: Changes in temperature and increasing humidity. Hens like chickens are reluctant to lay when temperatures are below 65F and when the humidity is very low. As temperature warms breeding activity greatly increases. Spring rains also tell the birds conditions are favorable for breeding. I like to wait a bit till Spring rains start to seriously breed my birds.
Third: Changes in Diet. Feeding more quantity or feeding different foods especially those higher in carbohydrates and proteins is very stimulating. Too much vitamin E to the hen and she will not sit but rather want to recycle laying over and over. Males should get vitamin E for six weeks prior to breeding and can continue getting it till breeding is over. Hens maximum of three weeks prior to laying and then not again unless they fail to lay the second clutch.
If any one of the three factors is dramatically increased the hens start laying! Laying eggs is not the same as laying fertile eggs.
This time of year, I get many e-mails or phone calls about problems that are caused by increases in one of the three factors with very unsatisfactory results. A recent caller couldn't understand that when he returned from a trip, many of his hens were laying even though temperature was low and day length was still 10.5 hours. Questioning revealed his wife took very good care of them in fact she feed them egg food every day! Oops, unintentionally she pushed the hens to lay infertile eggs!
|Lucca, my Belgian Malinois, took the top bill off the table from the cleaning ladies money and worked on it a bit!|