Learning how to breed chicken the right way is the surest and sustainable way of increasing your flock. You can also make a profit by selling the chicks to other farmers in your locality. Like any other farming venture, every move or decision that you make should be based on facts. You have to take calculated risks to ensure that you get value for money after breeding.
Even though a large percentage of the hard work has already been done for you by the rooster, you have control over the end results. That is, you have put in place a number of control measures to ensure that the chicken breeding process is devoid of any glitches.
Here are tips from professionals in poultry farming on how to breed chicken.
Master and Practice Selective Breeding
As the name suggests, selective breeding is based on the goals that you want to achieve. For instance, your intention may be to breed five or more favorite birds, to increase the flock, to improve the breed any more.
The health and physical appearance of the chicken that you select for breeding is of paramount importance if you are to achieve your breeding objectives. Ideally, you should choose chicken that has the desired characteristics. Steer clear of chicken whose health is in question to avoid ending of with chicks with low immunity to diseases.
Spring is the Best Season for Breeding Chicken
Based on experience, chickens have an inherent ability to lay fertilized eggs at any time of the year. However, research shows that they are more prolific during spring compared to summer and other seasons especially if you reside in an area that experiences cold weather during spring. It is also important to note that chickens spend more time and energy keeping warm during the cold season and little time mating.
Consider the Hen to Rooster Ratio
The first thing to note is that having several roosters in a big flock of chicken is not recommendable. Competition between them a chance to mate with the chicken will hamper the breeding process. That said, it is possible for roosters to coexist and not compete fiercely for the chicken if you have been raising them together for an extended period.
The best ratio of a rooster to a hen should be 1: 4-5. The more roosters there are in the flock, the higher the fertility rate.
Give the Desired Roosters a Chance to Interact with the Hen
Remember what we discussed about selective breeding? Once you identify hens and roosters that have the desired characteristics, go ahead and allow them to interact with each other. But before adding them to the flock, make sure that all the other roosters are relocated. Monitor the behaviors of the rooster to be sure that he is getting the job done.
Just like any good thing in life, breeding chicken takes time. Be patient- allow the rooster to mate with as many hens as possible to get enough fertilized eggs for your new flock. Ideally, you should expect fertilized eggs after the third week. There are plenty of articles online that you can read to get more insights into the reproductive cycle of a chicken.
Pay Close Attention to the Behavior of the Rooster
Needless to say, some roosters are aggressive while others are laid back. The aggressive ones are always trying to show off and prove they are at the helm of the food chain. In the process, they may injure the hens with their beaks and spurs unintentionally.
That said, the breed process is aggressive but the hens have a way of coping with the aggression as they mate. Don’t get concerned when you notice fair aggression but you should spring into action if you realize that the hens are getting wounded by the roosters.
Examples of signs that the rooster is too aggressive or over-eager including loss of feathers and stress. In that happens, it is recommended to remove the aggressive rooster from the flock and introduce a new one that has the desired characteristics. Keep in mind that the hen’s mental and physical health has a direct impact on the fertilization process and the quality of the chicks that will be hatched.
Inspect the Eggs for Fertilization
After three weeks, the hen will start to lay fertilized eggs. Don’t just assume that the eggs are fertilized, go ahead and inspect them. Fertilized eggs look different from unfertilized ones. If you look keenly at the yolk, you will notice a white splotch that looks like a bullseye. If the fertilization process has been going on for several days, you may notice red veins and splot.
Storing the Fertilized Eggs
By now, you are eager to see the chicks break the eggs shell and the temptation to put all the eggs in the incubator may be too strong to ignore. Desist from doing that – otherwise, you will have countless problems to deal with come hatching day.
Experts recommend rotating the eggs as the newly hatched chicks should only be removed from the incubator when they are dry. Opening up the incubator when the hatching process is still going on can put the lives of the unhatched chicks at risk.
Concisely, the eggs in the incubator should be in the same development stage. To avoid losing some of the chicks, it is wise to store the eggs for seven days or so and transfer them to the incubator together. By doing so, the eggs will develop at the same pace thereby eliminating the risk of some of the unhatched chicks dying. The ideal temperature in the area that you store the eggs should be 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clearly, chicken breeding is not as complicated as most people perceive but you have to adhere to the above tips to get healthy chicks. Once the chicks hatch, you need to feed them well to promote their growth and development especially their immune system. Puzzled about what type of feeds to buy, here is an updated and accurate chicken feeders compilation to guide you in the right direction.