Sustainable Living Center Oregon
Breeding chickens is a great way to create a sustainable flock or a source of income. Watching the process is a fantastic experience………. Thanks to the short amount of time that the eggs need to incubate.
We now produce chicks, pullets, laying chicken and fertile hatching eggs of the following breeds:
Suggestions for those new to broody hens:
If you are buying eggs to put under a broody hen, please watch to make sure she’s staying on the nest all day and all night before giving her fertile eggs. Watch to see that she returns to the same nest consistently before giving her fertile eggs. For that first day or two, give her some *infertile* eggs to practice on (we use ceramic eggs). Some people give a broody eggs after she’s spent her first full night and day on the nest box before giving her eggs, others give it a little longer to be sure she’s committing.
Consider how you might contain her so she isn’t bothered by the flock . Squabbles over a nest can (and do) lead to cracked/broken fertile eggs. We have build separate Broody Cages where she can hatch the eggs and raise her chicks without the flock bothering her.
Each breed has 6 – 8 hens and a rooster housed in a separate Coop Cube and Hobbit Dome. Therefore, we have 125 hens housed in 20 separate Domes. Since our system protect the hens, there is no need for the rooster except for breeding.
We introduce a rooster to hen’s home depending on the type of chicks we want. If we want the same breed, we will introduce that same breed’s rooster. If we want sex link chicks , we will introduce a rooster of a different breed.
The Basic Roosting Cube is made from:
Roost perches for 8 chickens
with Gamma screw off Lid
One hundred (110) volt or solar automatic door opener\closer
with water collection roof system
Winter Lights to keep winter eggs production stable
2. Hobbit Chicken Dome …. Day Time Protection from Eagles, Hawks and the neighbor’s dog. Each Dome can be attached to a Coop Roosting Cube for night time protection.
If the Dome is moved often the chicken feed bill can be reduced by 15% -20% The Dome has the same effect as “Pasture Raised Chickens” with protection. The Dome is made of electrical 1/2″ PVC conduit pipe.
.3. Natural Brooding Cage …. Brooding Hens\Rooster Isolation Cage. When a hen goes “broody” she is place in the Brooding Cage. The Brooding Cage is built to protect the hen as she hatches her chicks. It is a self contained unit with protection, water, feed and nest. The top of the brooding nest comes off for clean and inspect the hen nest.
The Brooding Cage is built from the cage that held the 275 gallon IBC tote.
4. Integration Triangle …. For Integration, Rooster Isolation, and Isolation of Sick or Bully Chickens. The Triangle also capture rain water, provides Sun Shade, and Wind Protection. There are three (3) places (between the two pipes) to insert barriers to split the Triangle into two sections for isolate of rooster, integrate chicks to the flock, or isolate a sick or bully chicken.
It is made from electrical 1/2 PVC conduit pipe.
Be prepared for noise. Roosters are loud animals. Find out if it is legal to keep chickens in your area. Some places have strict laws on keeping chickens whilst other places have ruled on keeping roosters and the amount of chickens you have. To avoid problems, it is best to check your local laws and regulations in your area. If you cannot have a rooster, you will need to purchase fertilized eggs to hatch.
What do you do with rooster chicks?
Breeding chickens will result in about 50% male chicks.
Male chickens will not contribute to your egg production.
They eat larger amounts of food, and will significantly increase the noise level of your flock.
Be aware that breeding chickens will result in having to deal with roosters. It is possible with right rooster and hens it is possible to determine the male chicks at birth. You can decide at that time what to do with the males. It is possible to turn them into Capons. Click Here for details on Capons.
There are three (3) common methods that are used to determine which chicks are male are:
The problem with vent sexing is that there are over fifteen different shapes associated with the male and female sex organs and most people do not want to check the vent of a chick.
Many breeds can be sexed by examination of their primary wing feathers just after hatching. The females have staggered rows at the tips of their feathers (think: at the tips of their fingers) with little fluffs of feather. The males have a single even row with less or no fluffs, just the blunt tip. This method can be used by the hobbyist or commercial hatchery, but must be done within a day or two of hatching. Chick Here for more details of Feather Sexing.
Color sexing is the easiest way of sexing day old chicks. There are two basic kinds of sex linked color crosses; there are the red sex-linked cross and the black sex-linked cross.
Living things are made of millions of tiny self-contained components called cells. Inside of each cell are long and complex molecules called DNA. DNA stores information that tells the cells how to create that living thing. Parts of this information that tell how to make one small part or characteristic of the living thing – red feathers, or comb color, or a tendency to be big tail – are known as genes.
A living thing has two copies of each gene, one from its mother, and one from its father. There can be multiple types of each gene, which give different instructions: one version might cause a chicken to have black feathers, another might cause them to have white feathers. These different versions are known as “alleles” of the gene.
Since there are two copies of each gene and can have two different “alleles” at the same time. Often, one “allele” will be dominant, meaning that the living thing looks and acts as if it had only had one “allele”. The unexpressed “allele” is called recessive. That is how you can breed sex-link chicks develop.
Any breeder can produce red sex linked chicks if they have a red male has the correct “allele” and silver female chicken has the correct “allele.”
White birds have “alleles” and can be used to make a sex-linked chick, but a breeder never knows if the white bird has the correct “allele.” For example, white leghorns cannot be used for sex linked chicks because they do not have the correct “allele.”
The most important thing to remember about sex-linked chicks is that:
Two sex linked chickens cannot be crossed to produce sex linked offspring.
A person cannot produce sex linked offspring if they cross a male sex linked variety with any variety of female.
A person cannot produce sex linked offspring if they cross any variety of male with a sex-linked female.
A person cannot use sex linked birds in any cross to produce sex linked offspring.
Female sex-link chickens can be extremely good egg-layers which often produce 300 eggs a year or more depending on the quality of care and feed. The color of their eggs vary according to the mix of breeds, and blue-green eggs are possible.
Many common varieties are known as the black sex-link (also called Black Stars) and the red sex-link (also called Red Stars).
Black Sex Link Chicks …. You can expect as many as 300 brown eggs per year, per hen from Black Sex Links. They are primarily kept as laying birds, although many people raise them as dual purpose birds.
Temperament: Black Sex Links are hardier than many breeds. Many owners report that Black Sex Links are a bit less aggressive than Rhode Island Reds.
Red Sex Link Chicks are an excellent choice for many egg laying operations for their substantial production as well as their ease of breeding and sexing. These breeds also mature rapidly and will begin laying much earlier than many other breeds. One can easily sex or determine the gender of these baby chickens –
You will need a rooster only for breeding. The rooster does not need to be the same breed as your hens to mate. You should have a rooster for every 6-10 hens. The rooster eye color should be even, and his feet should be free from deformities. The rooster’s comb should look like a standard comb for his breed.
Some rooster breeds can be aggressive. Make sure that you pick a rooster that is even-tempered, especially if you have children. Rooster are for natural protection of the hens. With our Chicken Breeding System, one does not need a rooster for protection, only for breeding. After the breeding, you can separate the rooster to his own Chicken Breeding cube or cage
You can breed chickens throughout most of the year, chickens bred in the spring tend to be stronger. Chickens born in the Spring will begin producing eggs in Autumn. There is no set time for when a flock starts to breed.
You do not need to do anything special to breed your chickens, just introduce the rooster to your flock and let nature take its course. Chickens are ready to mate at about 6 months of age. Some breeds take longer but that is the average.
The Chicken Breeding System allows the hen to raise her chicks. If you rely on your hens for egg-laying, letting the hen raise her eggs will result in about 3 months of lost egg production (21 days to set and hatch her clutch, and another 2 months to raise her babies before she starts laying again). You will also need a “broody” hen, which means she is willing to sit on the egg for the entire incubation period. You can’t force a chicken to go “broody” – it is just something they do naturally. However, you can try putting fake eggs in the nest to get them to sit.
Most chickens have had the broody trait bred out to keep them productive. Some of the broodiest breeds include: Silkies, Serama, Brahma, Jersey Giant, New Hampshire Red, Sussex, and others. Find your broody hen. You can use fake ceramic eggs to test for the most broody hen. If your hen will sit on the fake eggs for 24 hours, then she will most likely successfully incubate eggs for 21 days.
Collect your eggs regularly. Even if you are going to let the hens incubate the eggs, you will want to collect them and choose the best ones to incubate. Fertile eggs can be stored up to a week. After that their hatch rate will go down. It’s best to add eggs to the hen all at the same time so that they hatch on the same day. Collect eggs two to three times a day to make sure that the eggs don’t get dirty or don’t start developing. Scientific studies have proven that female chicks are from rounded eggs whilst male chicks are from pointed eggs.
Handle the eggs delicately to keep from upsetting the membrane and other internal parts. Clean your hands before gathering eggs. This will help prevent you passing on bacteria to the egg.
If it starts getting hot out, collect eggs even more often than normal, up to five times a day.
Use a soft basket to hold the eggs while you collect them. This will help keep them from getting damaged. A little straw in a hand basket makes for a perfect egg basket.
Keep the nest clean. Although you should always be keeping the coop and nest boxes clean, it is especially important when breeding. Mud and droppings can increase the harmful bacteria that can infect the egg, which will hurt the egg’s chances.
Make sure the hens always have clean bedding. The top of the brooder can be easily removed to clean the bedding.
Choose the eggs you wish to incubate. Choosing the right eggs will significantly increase your chances of a successful hatch. You will want to avoid eggs that are noticeably larger or smaller. Large eggs have difficulty hatching, and small eggs often produce chicks that are too small to live.
Do not choose any eggs that have been cracked. Avoid eggs with thin shells. Do not choose eggs that are noticeably misshapen. Only keep the clean eggs. Washing or wiping dirty eggs removes protective coating, making it more vulnerable to bacteria. Keep contact with incubating eggs to a minimum.
Mark your eggs. If you are hatching a lot of eggs, or are breeding different types of chickens, you may find it useful to mark the eggs with dates or breeds to help you keep track of them all. You can use a pencil, marking pen, or a stamp.
Eggs can be stored up to 7 days after they have been laid and before you start incubating. Eggs should be stored for at least 24 hours before you start incubation, otherwise they may not hatch as well.
Try to maintain a temperature of 55 °F (13 °C) and high humidity.
Store the eggs with the pointy end down. Turn the eggs daily. While you are storing the eggs, they will need to be turned once a day to keep the membrane from sticking to one side. You can do this by placing a piece of wood underneath one end of the carton and then switching it to the other end the next day.
Sneak the eggs under the broody hen. This will be easiest at night, while the hen is sleeping. Depending on the breed, she may be able to incubate up to 12 eggs. Smaller breeds may only be able to fit 6 or so. All the eggs need to be able to be covered when she roosts. Handle a broody hen with care – she’s often cranky and doesn’t want to be messed with.
Separate the brooding hen and her eggs from the other chickens in the Brooding Cage to prevent the flock from getting the eggs dirty or damaged. Warning: Moving any hen while she is setting may cause her to abandon nest.
Keep the brooody hen well fed. Make sure that the broody hen has plenty of fresh water and food. You can switch the hen to chick starter food so that the chicks have the correct food right away. The hen won’t eat as much as normal. Watch her and make sure that she is eating and drinking. You may have to remove her from the nest or set her a food and water dish right beside her nest. Hens will sometimes refuse to leave the nest to eat or drink and starve to death.
Hens get up for periods of time while nesting. If she gets up to eat, drink, and go to the toilet, it’s perfectly normal. As long as she completes the 21 days of incubation, this would not be a problem.
Let the hen hatch the eggs. When the eggs start hatching, don’t disturb the hen. She will help the chicks hatch. Eggs begin hatching around the 21st day, and the process can take up to 24 hours or more. Most of the eggs should hatch around the same time. After hatching has started, remove any unhatched eggs after about two days.
Let the broody hen raise the chicks. The broody hen will provide the necessary warmth and care for the chicks. After six weeks, you can move the chicks to the Triangle. This will allow them to get their bearings without being picked on by the other chickens.
Our Breeding Cage provide a separate brooding area that the hen can enter and leave but the chicks can’t leave. This will help keep them out of trouble.
Provide plenty of clean water and fresh food. Chicks need specific blends of food to grow up healthy, so make sure that there is plenty available. Different feeds will recommend changing types after a certain amount of time (6 weeks, 3 months, etc.).
Introduce the chicks to the flock. After about 6 weeks, the chickens will be ready to be introduced to your flock. Introduce them slowly, and ensure that everyone is getting along before moving them in permanently.
Inbreeding is where the chickens being mated are related, such as a brother and a sister. Inbreeding can cause severe problems for the chicks, including a weak immune system. Don’t inbreed as it will be unfair on the chick; it will have a higher chance of dying. If you are breeding second generation or third generation chickens, be very wary of inbreeding issues.
Try to tag your chickens so that you know which ones are related to the rooster. You can keep the rooster separate and only allow in the hens that you want to breed. You may also consider using different rooster each year.
Consider what will happen to the chicks when they grow up! Are you keeping them to breed more? Do you know somewhere you can sell them? Do you know someone who will take them? Like breeding any animal, always ensure you have planned for the future of the offspring.
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