Are these eggs fer­tile?

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QWithin the last week, I’ve pur­chased two Brahma hens who have been lay­ing for the past month. The place I got them from kept the hens with a young rooster. My ques­tion is how long after be­ing with the rooster will the eggs be fer­tile? I don’t have a rooster and was won­der­ing whether I would be able to hatch any eggs in an in­cu­ba­tor.

AJulie Moore says: There are two ques­tions to con­sider here: rooster fer­til­ity and egg vi­a­bil­ity. As the rooster was young, he would be pro­duc­ing high qual­ity sperm, ejac­u­lat­ing any­thing be­tween 100 mil­lion and five bil­lion sperm at a time. The num­ber of sperm per ejac­u­la­tion is sel­dom less than 100 mil­lion — this is the min­i­mum re­quired to main­tain high fer­til­ity. Even though the rooster was highly fer­tile, it re­ally de­pends on how ac­tive the rooster was amongst your hens. If they were lower down in the peck­ing or­der, it’s likely that he may not have been so in­ter­ested in mat­ing with them. As hens can store sperm for rel­a­tively long pe­ri­ods of time, typ­i­cally up to three weeks if they are young, there’s a high prob­a­bil­ity that the eggs your hens are lay­ing now are ac­tu­ally fer­tilised. The fer­tilised eggs, once laid, will re­main vi­able for as long as a month in some ex­treme cases. Per­son­ally, for op­ti­mum vi­a­bil­ity, I set eggs that are rarely more than a few days to a week old. If I were you, I would col­lect the eggs that have been laid within the past week and set them in the in­cu­ba­tor in one go. Hope­fully, after 21 days you’ll hear the sound of peep­ing chicks. Good luck.

An egg hatches

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