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Avatar for OffGrid
May 18, 2020 9:41 PM CST
Camden,TN
So I created this account to ask this question because I cant find a proper answer anywhere on the internet. Long story short my family is adding chickens and ducks to the homestead and I have a fairly basic question:
There will be times because of work that we will not be able to collect eggs for up to 4 days at a time. We have both male and female ducks and chickens. Should we separate the males from females to avoid fertilization of the eggs if we are gone for up to four days? Nobody here wants to crack open an egg for a developed embryo to fall into the pan. I have read that unfertilized eggs can wait for up to a week and still be perfectly fine but how long will it take for a fertilized egg to become developed enough for a bloody embryo to pop out?

Answers to those two questions would be much appreciated. We are capable of separating the males and females we just dont know if we have to.
Avatar for porkpal
May 18, 2020 10:03 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
Roses Plant Identifier Farmer Raises cows Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
Fertilized eggs only begin to develop when the hen/duck goes broody and sits on them to incubate them. It takes three or four weeks for the chick or duckling to hatch. Normally they wait until they have a nest full before starting to sit. All the eggs should be fine.
Porkpal
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May 18, 2020 11:17 PM CST
Name: Tofi
Sumatera, Indonesia
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Just as said by porkpal, the problem will not be "growing embryo" within the egg, as long as the hen hasn't start brooding.
However, depending the behavior of the male or even female chicken, there are risks is that they can stomp and also eat the eggs, if they got hungry or just start to be curious and accidentally break one. Once the behavior started, it is difficult to stop. I have deal with these issue with some of my chicken, The non-laying female can sometime eat other females eggs, and in rare occasion the mother her self did, but I guess it is also related to the chicken breed. (mine is just local breed, that behave almost like wild jungle fowl).
So for me, if I have no plant to incubate the eggs, I would separate male and female chicken.
For ducks, I never encounter same problem before.
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May 19, 2020 12:11 AM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
You only want 1 rooster for every 10 or so hens. The roosters are very territorial and don't share well with other roosters. Unless you want a blood bath, you should choose your favorite rooster and re-home the rest. When you buy chicks, ask for pullets only. Its hard to sex a chick at birth so you will have about 10% roosters anyway. If you buy straight run, you will have half roosters. A good hen will lay eggs about 7 days out of 10 but during molt, they may not lay eggs at all. Also, hens only lay for a couple years before they retire. You will need a plan for extra roosters and retired hens. I always took them to the auction.

Ducks lay eggs only once a year. They also need water to at least wade in or their feet will crack up.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Avatar for OffGrid
May 19, 2020 8:19 AM CST
Camden,TN
Thanks yall for the extremely helpful info!!
DaisyI said:You only want 1 rooster for every 10 or so hens. The roosters are very territorial and don't share well with other roosters. Unless you want a blood bath, you should choose your favorite rooster and re-home the rest. When you buy chicks, ask for pullets only. Its hard to sex a chick at birth so you will have about 10% roosters anyway. If you buy straight run, you will have half roosters. A good hen will lay eggs about 7 days out of 10 but during molt, they may not lay eggs at all. Also, hens only lay for a couple years before they retire. You will need a plan for extra roosters and retired hens. I always took them to the auction.

Ducks lay eggs only once a year. They also need water to at least wade in or their feet will crack up.

I read that if they are kept together from being young they establish a pecking order and they wont really harm each other. Is this true in your experience? What if I keep them separated from the females in a different pen? Will that affect how much they fight because they arent competing for mates?
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May 19, 2020 9:57 AM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
The pecking order is re-established every spring. I never kept the roosters separate but, I imagine they would fight regardless. Why do you want to keep the roosters?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
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May 19, 2020 10:29 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
OffGrid said:Thanks yall for the extremely helpful info!!

I read that if they are kept together from being young they establish a pecking order and they wont really harm each other. Is this true in your experience? What if I keep them separated from the females in a different pen? Will that affect how much they fight because they arent competing for mates?

...

There are varying degrees of how much they harm each other...
I had a rooster dripping blood from it's face one morning... and then I gave it away.

While it's nice to be able to incubate a few eggs... If you aren't planning to hatch any... those roosters can sure wear out some hens... You know... wear the feathers off their backs...

I'm happy to raise some roosters, because I have the recipe for rooster soup from scratch, and I feel a lot safer eating one of my pets than I feel when considering purchasing chicken wrapped in celophane...

When I sacrifice a pet, it's only one, and done as humanely as possible... and as it's a small batch, I don't have to worry about the other hundred thousand that went through the bath that you see in the big batch operations....

If I had to eat store bought meat? Probably go entirely vegetarian.

I don't think that having a bunch of roosters in one pen together is going to result in happy birds... They fight whether they have access to the hens or not.

What about a bunch of individual chicken tractors?

How are you planning to feed and water the birds when y'all are away?
Avatar for OffGrid
May 19, 2020 11:46 AM CST
Camden,TN
The idea behind keeping roosters is to be able to expand the flock without buying new ones every year. We will use feeders and drinkers when we are away. Thanks for any info
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May 19, 2020 2:37 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Then you need one rooster. He will be one happy bird. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Avatar for OffGrid
May 19, 2020 2:43 PM CST
Camden,TN
DaisyI said:Then you need one rooster. He will be one happy bird. Smiling


Makes sense, but what about inbreeding? If they reproduce from the same rooster over a couple years will that be an issue? Ive seen conflicting results on my own googling
Avatar for porkpal
May 19, 2020 5:18 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
Roses Plant Identifier Farmer Raises cows Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
I suspect that all our chicken breeds are severely inbred. A few more generations are unlikely to make much difference.
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May 19, 2020 5:43 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
I kept chicken for 25 years and never noticed any chickens with two heads or 3 feet. I don't think its an issue. We never had just one kind of chicken so, more genetic material to choose from.

Araucana and Cochins were always our favorites. Of course, every year, someone would fall in love with a new chick at the feed store so, there was always an infusion of new blood, usually something silly. Smiling

If you are doing this because it sounds like fun, go for it. If you are doing this because you think it will be easier than buying eggs from the store, don't. Its expensive and time consuming to raise chickens. If you want fresh eggs, find someone with chickens and offer to buy some.

Chickens don't start laying until they are about 6 months old, just in time for their first molt and winter. No eggs when they're molting or when they're cold. You will need a coop and a coop yard with a 6 ft. fence and a roof, otherwise you will lose them all to the first coyote, fox, raccoon, possum, mountain lion, hawks, the neighbor's dog... (we lost chickens to all those animals).

This is not to discourage you, I loved my chickens, ducks and geese. Its just a reality check.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Avatar for OffGrid
May 19, 2020 8:15 PM CST
Camden,TN
I greatly appreciate everything yall said! We are keeping chickens for fun and prepping for shtf scenario purposes. The information is all excellent and will be taken into account
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May 21, 2020 8:02 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
OffGrid said:
what about inbreeding? If they reproduce from the same rooster over a couple years will that be an issue? Ive seen conflicting results on my own googling

I Think maybe you are borrowing issues that aren't relevant. If you have a number of roosters... what is your plan for identifying the biddies of each rooster?

Most of this year's biddies [at my house] were from a rooster with feathers on his feet... those cross breeds are prettier than the originals!

But, yeah... next year? might need to borrow a rooster... or... as Daisy suggested get some biddies from a different source... Or... just keep this years chicks separate until I collect enough eggs to hatch from the ones that provided the eggs this year....One year, a neighbor gave me a bunch of roosters... I suspect that until people get serious about their preps, there will be no shortage of fresh roosters for the flock.


But, yeah... varmints... last year... I had a raccoon that positively decimated my flock... took a really long time before I finally solved that difficulty...

Re: 6 months till you get eggs.... at my house, it takes 12 months... The difference is that I refuse to feed my birds antibiotics.

Feeding healthy birds antibiotics makes them mature a lot faster.... but comes with it's own set of moral issues.

Like... all those farmers feeding antibiotics to the livestock... were able to take them to market a lot sooner... but also, created a reservoir of antibiotic resistant bacteria... so, not a good idea.
Last edited by stone May 21, 2020 8:03 AM Icon for preview
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May 21, 2020 10:43 AM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Six months to maturity but then, molt and winter could add another 6 months. I was very careful to find feed without antibiotics plus, they scavenged during the day and got most of the kitchen scraps and weeds I pulled.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Avatar for porkpal
May 21, 2020 11:25 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
Roses Plant Identifier Farmer Raises cows Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
My pullets do not molt until the second autumn, and most start laying at 6-7 months with non-medicated feed.
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