How to Breed Your Hens and Roosters
You might be raising backyard chickens because you like the fresh eggs. In this scenario, you only need hens to lay those eggs.
But if you're comfortable with egg production and keeping chickens, breeding hens and roosters could provide new opportunities. Breeding your flock is a great idea if you want to increase your chicken population, have adorable little chicks in your garden, and even have a new entrepreneurial opportunity to sell the birds and turn a profit.
This article is for you if you're considering adding a rooster to your flock.
The Breeding Process: Hen + Rooster
Here are the steps to take when matchmaking and breeding your flock.
1. Choose Your Breeding Pair
Start with your most beautiful hens and then select your rooster breed. Be picky with your hen and rooster breeds so that the outcome is gorgeous, strong, healthy chicks with desirable characteristics.
2. Get Comfortable Managing Your Rooster
Roosters are not cute or cuddly. They're protective of their hens. To learn how to manage your cocky rooster, here are some tips:
- Be brave and show the rooster who's in charge.
- Approach the bird with caution; move slowly.
- Wear similar clothing when interacting with the rooster so you become familiar to him.
- Learn his body language. If you sense the rooster is on edge, walk away and try again later.
- Give him his space and trust him to do his job.
3. Have Enough Roosters for Your Flock
One rooster can service seven to 10 hens. For backyard flocks, one rooster is probably best, as too many studs can lead to aggressive behavior and stress on the hen population. If you have a larger population, raising two or more roosters together, be sure to promote harmonious living by giving them ample space and hens, and allowing them to decide their hierarchy.
4. Breeding Time: Here's What to Expect
Springtime is the best time for breeding your hens and roosters. It's warmer, and the chickens tend to be more productive. When it comes to the mating act, you may get a little surprised as the stud can be forceful in his behavior. But don't worry, he's quick too!
When mating, the rooster performs a type of dance, usually dropping one wing and circling the hen. After the foreplay, the rooster will mount the hen, sometimes gripping her by the neck. There is no penetration in poultry mating but rather a meeting of the hen's and rooster's rear orifices, also known as the cloacas. In hens, the cloaca accepts the rooster's sperm; it's also used to pass feces and lay eggs.
The "cloacal kiss" can look awkward as the two birds position themselves for their cloacas to meet.
Mating does not need to happen regularly as hens store sperm in their body. Eggs remain fertile for a few weeks before their sexual playtime needs to occur again.
5. Make Sure Everyone is Happy
When you notice foreplay and mating, you may want to check to see that the rooster isn't too rough. Some hens might lose a few feathers, but don't be concerned. If you do get a chance, examine your bird for scratches or injuries and treat them to avoid infection.
6. Waiting for Eggs
It can take two or three weeks before your hen lays the fertilized eggs. You can still eat these eggs when freshly laid or leave them for the hen to incubate.
Get Ready for the Chirping of Chicks
Breeding chickens has many perks, and once you see those little chicks hatched and clucking about after their mama hen, you'll be enamored with the smooth breeding process. For help with keeping your poultry family happy, check out the variety of poultry food and other products at petsonbroadway.com.