Aug
03
2006

The chicken and the egg

I've noticed a lot of dead fledglings and raided nests lately. Sometimes, mixed in with all the broken eggshells, I find an unhatched baby bird. And that got me wondering: are grocery store eggs fertilized? How come you never come across one with an embryo or a little chicken inside? If they're not, why does a chicken spend the energy required to produce unfertilized eggs?

Egg (and chicken): (Photo by Peter Cooper)
Egg (and chicken): (Photo by Peter Cooper)

When you google "are chicken eggs fertilized?" you get a lot of responses. Guess lots of other people had the same question.

The answer is that chickens will lay eggs even when they've had no contact with a rooster. According to the "Ask a Scientist" feature of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute,

"If an egg has been fertilized, then the embryo inside has already divided several times but remains a group of unspecialized cells [at the time the egg is laid]. When the egg is incubated at about 37 to 38 °C, the embryonic cells differentiate to form a chick, which will hatch after 21 days. If the egg has not been fertilized, then the oocyte [or egg cell] within will never grow or divide, and the egg will never hatch. The eggs you buy at the supermarket are eggs that have never been fertilized.

Domestic chickens lay one egg every 26 to 28 hours (about one egg a day) for a period of 4 to 6 days. In between periods of egg laying, the hen rests. Wild birds may rest for months before laying more eggs, but domestic hens, specially bred for abundant egg production, may rest for as little as 1 day between egg-laying periods."

In commercial egg operations, hens are kept away from roosters, and the eggs are collected as they're laid. Chickens raised to produce eggs only need to mate to replace hens that get too old to lay eggs.

Sometimes you come across a grocery store egg that contains a blood spot. I was told, as a child, that a blood spot indicated a fertilized egg. But that's not so, according to the American Egg Board. Instead,

" Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny [blood] spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots.

Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed but, even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish."

What about those weird white stringy bits you see when you crack an egg? The American Egg Board says they're called chalazae:

"[Chalazae (singular=chalaza) are] ropey strands of egg white which anchor the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos.

The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard."

Here's a neat site about the structure of a chicken egg.

And another one about how a hen lays an egg.

Egg trivia

And a bunch of other resources about chickens and eggs.





Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (117 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (119 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (119 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (123 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (123 votes)




Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Neva's picture
Neva says:

Well, I have a couple of questions. We have 1 rooster and 12 hens in one pen. Is that to many hens for that rooster? We also have 2 other roosters and I was wondering if we could just make a bigger pen and put them all together? Would the roosters kill one another?

posted on Sun, 07/08/2007 - 6:56pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The rooster to hen ratio varies by breed, but typically a rooster can 'service' 4-6 hens. So I would say you should add another rooster. Since you do have 2 'unused' roosters, it would be okay to have all three in with the hens. Fighting can be a personality thing - so keep an eye on your roosters and if they are spending more time fighting than paying attention to the ladies you might take one out. For the first couple of days after adding the males, however, you will get some fighting as they establish their 'pecking order'. There shouldn't be much fighting after that.

posted on Thu, 07/12/2007 - 7:08pm
Vicki Pickreign's picture
Vicki Pickreign says:

I have six Rhode Island Reds who have been laying for a while now and yesterday I went to collect the eggs. I fouhd four regular eggs and one about the size of a robin's egg. What could have caused this?

posted on Fri, 07/13/2007 - 7:33am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Tiny 'eggs' can happen periodically. Typically they result when some debris (such as a piece of the oviduct) starts down the oviduct and the various egg parts are added - albumen, shell membranes, and shell. Typically there is no yolk. Very young and very olds are more prone to this happening.

posted on Sat, 07/14/2007 - 9:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I also have a chicken who lays regular size eggs, but yesterday she did lay an egg the size of a bird egg. Is she sick?

posted on Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:50am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It is not unusual for a chicken to lay the occassional small egg. It probably didn't have a yolk in it. A piece of the oviduct was probably sloughed off early in the reproductive tract (oviduct) triggering an egg to be made. Since the material is small, the egg is small. If she keeps laying tiny eggs it might be something, but the odd one now and then is fine.

posted on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 5:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i had told you about 21 days ago about my large rooster and my small hen. i had asked if the eggs would produce baby chicks and also if it was possible for the rooster to even fertilize the eggs. you asked me to let you know what happened. i turns out that out of the 12 eggs my hen was sitting on only one hatched. lets just say the chick was not right. it had qualities from both the mother and father of course. the legs were not working, so it could'nt walk. it was'nt eating or drinking unless i helped. the japanese silkie is the mother which has black skin. the father has pink skin. the chick had black skin on its head and pink skin on its body. so unfortunatly it died. it was best for the chick of course. i cracked the rest of the eggs to see if they had even been fertilized. there were 5 other chicks but, they were very underdeveloped and not alive. i guess since they all run around together we will just eat the eggs and never let them go that far again=(

posted on Mon, 07/16/2007 - 2:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Thanks for the update. I guess what is theoretically possible is not always possible in practice.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 10:52am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is also interesting to look at the genetics - I would have thought the black skin would be dominate, genetically speaking. Interesting that it only appeared on the head. It would have been interesting to see what an adult would have looked like, if it had lived.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 10:54am
thinkglobalfuture's picture
thinkglobalfuture says:

Really old topic, but just in case you check. Can chickens produce genetic chimera? Just stirring the pot. I'm on a borrowed 'puter and may not remember to check back. GREAT info, I've read all of it. Also... much patience. thanks sf

posted on Tue, 08/10/2010 - 5:40pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Although I have never worked with him, I have heard of chicken chimera. You can even read a book on it - Incorporation of genetically modified cells in chicken chimeras. I have also heard of duck-chicken chimeras.

Along the same lines, I was reading an article in Nature about a half-male / half-female chicken. There is a write up about the three chickens at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100310/full/news.2010.114.html

posted on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:53am
deggsperate!!!!!!'s picture
deggsperate!!!!!! says:

I have been incubating an egg for 33 days. In earlier development I saw the "spider" in the egg when I candled it. When I candle it now the whole egg is black besides for the egg sack at the bottom of the egg. I havn't been turning the egg at all, as I have only learnt of that now. I also havn't been hydrating it with water. Would the egg still hatch, because it was due to hatch long time ago already, but it looks like there is still a chick in there. What must I do? Is it absolutely neccesary to turn them and hydrate them everyday? Often I will find eggs at the stables and I'm determined to hatch an egg. Please help!!!

posted on Sat, 07/21/2007 - 6:52pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

If the egg is a chicken egg - it will most likely not hatch. Turning eggs is essential for proper embryo development. If you don't turn eggs throughout the day (back and forth and not going the same direction around throughout the day). Humidity is also important.

Based on what you've said - you had embryo development but they died and the egg is now rotten. Be very careful if the eggs is very light - which is usually an indication that it is about to explode.

posted on Mon, 07/23/2007 - 8:32am
chicken_morgan's picture
chicken_morgan says:

will u get deformed chicks if u mix breed ur chickens and like every day i go and hold my egg to see if one of the 30 hens is keeping it warm and it always is warm but this one hen is the only one siting on eggs but im getting worried cuz she wont leave the nest to eat or drink plez reply

posted on Sun, 07/22/2007 - 1:44am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Chickens from differents breeds will frequently mate with each and produce viable chicks. It is more of a problem if there are large size differences between the breeds. If you have a broody hen sitting on eggs, it is best to leave her alone - if you disturb her too much she may abandon the eggs.

When hens go broody they typically don't eat or drink much - she may actually be leaving the nest for a few minutes each day (when you aren't looking). I wouldn't worry unless she becomes extremely thin.

posted on Mon, 07/23/2007 - 8:36am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Maybe you could try bringing it to her maybe that just sounds stupid but you could try i bet she is tired and probably will

posted on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Another question... I read what you said about small size eggs above. But 2 days ago my hens (I have 11) laid 2 eggs total, the first ones, it was exciting. They were small about the size when you touch your thumb and pointer together to form an oval. Now today I found another egg about 1/2 that size. Should I be worried?? Also they just drop the eggs anywhere in their outside pen or inside pen and not in the nesting boxes.Is it because they are so young still they are just 18 weeks. And are the eggs edible?? And they lay the eggs in the late afternoon?? Please help...

posted on Tue, 07/24/2007 - 7:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It sounds like you are getting 'pullet' eggs, which are common when pullets first start laying eggs. If it continues on a regular basis for over a week, I would be worried something was wrong (depending on the size of the hen laying the egg). I would imagine there are no yolks in the eggs just a bit of something that stimulated the egg to be formed. In which case, I wouldn't eat them. If they do have yolks in them, they might be from a breed that lays small eggs, and then you should be able to eat them.

What breed of chickens do you have? Some breeds are not very good about laying in nest boxes (such as Leghorns). It may also be that they don't like the particular nest boxes they are provided with - some can be very picking. One method I have used, with mixed success, to train pullets to lay in the nest is to put a golf ball in the nest.

posted on Thu, 07/26/2007 - 10:52am
Rachel Conn's picture
Rachel Conn says:

One of my chicken eyes are stuck shut, Im thinking some kind of serious conjunctivitous, she's not eating too well and stays to herself. I don't have the money right now to take her to the vet. are there any home remedies or suggestions about what I can do? I've seperated her from the rest and when I clean her eyes she eats and perks up. none of the other chickens have shown any signs of having it.

posted on Fri, 07/27/2007 - 5:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There are many causes of eye disorders in poultry - see the online publication Eye Disorders of Poultry.

Most vets don't have avian medicine experience so I don't know that it would be worthwhile trying - but it depends what area you are in.

Since none of the other birds are affected, I suspect it may have been an injury of the single bird. I'm not a veterinarian, but if the bird was mine I would continue to clean her eyes, but would also get an antibiotic to put in her water. Most feed stores sell tetracycline in one form or another. You might consider giving all the birds the antibiotic, rather than a special waterer for the injured hen, in case it is a subclinical respiratory infection in the flock.

posted on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 10:01am
elizabeth's picture
elizabeth says:

i have a cochen hen. shes not quite a year old yet but has been laying eggs. this past week she stopped laying eggs and is acting strange. she eats, poops and drinks ok but wants to stay in her box. she is spoiled and will only lay eggs in the box we kept her in when she was little(in my house) not her coop we built for her. we take her out so she will get excercise , eat , drink and poop. she does this very fast like shes in a hurry . cleans her feathers and wants right back in her box. she makes a fussing noise till we let her back in. when shes in there she makes a noise like she has layed an egg and dont want us to take it away. as she has been laying them, my mom takes them right away, this makes tweety mad and she protests. why is she acting in such a hurry to get back in her box and wont leave unless we take her out ? what should we do ? PLEASE HELP ME!

posted on Sat, 07/28/2007 - 5:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It sounds like your hen has gone broody - this is a hormonal change making her want to sit on eggs and will happen whether eggs are there or not.

There is an interesting article online that discusses broodiness in chickens.

The online publication Why did my chickens stop laying that might be an interesting read also.

There is also discussion of this issue in a previous post - see Tue, 04/10/2007 at 1:53pm.

posted on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 10:14am
Cathy's picture
Cathy says:

I wrote you above about my hens laying real small eggs, we ate one and the yoke was as big as the outside shell (hardly any white), it was very good. You asked me what type of hens I had,I have 3 Black Osterloops or leeps not sure of spelling, 3 Light Bramas, 3 Americaunas, and 3 Rhode Island Reds, the rooster is the Black variety.. I am getting one egg a day and not sure who is laying it. But are still quit small.. I got her 1st egg in the nesting box today, but as I said before not sure whose laying it??? So should we continue to eat the rest of the eggs since last Sunday we have 8 eggs..(the pullets)???

posted on Sun, 07/29/2007 - 3:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

All the breeds you identified - Black Australorps, Light Brahmas, Ameraucanas and Rhode Island Reds. I assume they are all standard size and not bantams [?]. Bantams will always lay smaller eggs.

Australorps lay a tinted brown egg.
Brahmas lay a brown egg ranging light to dark brown.
Rhode Island Reds also lay brown colored eggs.
Ameraucanas lay colored eggs - they are a cross with an Araucana chicken. Araucanas originated in South America, have no tail and lay green eggs. Genetically the egg color is dominant and comes through in crosses so that Ameraucanas lay light green eggs and sometimes light pink or blue. if the eggs were coming from the Ameraucanas it would be obvious because of the color.

It sounds like the eggs, since they have a yolk, are 'pullet eggs' which are the first eggs laid by a young female chicken that has come into production with a suboptimal body weight size. The eggs are safe to eat.

If the hens are not bantams and continue to lay small eggs you need to take a look at their diet. They may not be getting sufficient energy to produce regular sized eggs.

posted on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 10:27am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thank you for all the info, you have helped me soo much.. Today I saw who layed the egg, eggs, it's been the Light Brahma...The eggs are light brown - a lighter brown... I guess the other chickens haven't started yet although I am sure it will be soon...They are 20 weeks old now... Thank you again

posted on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 7:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

20 weeks of age is about right for most of the breeds you mentioned to start laying eggs - if they were properly light stimulated. In general, chickens come into production with increasing daylength and go out of production with decreasing daylength.

posted on Wed, 08/01/2007 - 12:39pm
Jeanie's picture
Jeanie says:

My hen has been on her eggs for almost 4 weeks. Finally a beak poped through one of the eggs. In my excitement I helped the chick out of the shell as I did not know that was a bad thing to do. My chick is up & running and eating, but has an external yolk sac still there after 2 days. It seems to be healing/drying out and shows no sign of infection.
Is there a way to treat it? Will it make my chick ill or cause other problems?
I feel so bad about what I did. Please advise!

posted on Sun, 08/05/2007 - 8:40pm
Jeanie's picture
Jeanie says:

The chick I described above died this morning, my guess is from infection or perhaps the external yoke sac was obstructing elimination. It appeared to have alot of fluid coming from its mouth. At any rate, I know better now than to help a hatching chick out of it's shell. I have seven other wiggly eggs under Doris, I'll leave them alone.

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 12:36pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The fact that it is not infected is a good sign. There really isn't anything that can be done to insert a yolk sac that didn't get absorbed before the chick hatched. But if it is healed and drying out - there is hope. You'll have to take a wait and see approach.

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 1:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Normally chicks that don't absorb the yolk sac don't survive for very long, but since it has been 2 days and the chick is up and running around with no signs of infection it may make it.
There is no way to insert the yolk sac surgically (pre or post hatch). Perhaps what you saw was not the yolk sac - since it would take any infection directly to the abdomen of the chick.
My suggestion - make sure it gets plenty of feed and water (water is most important in the first few days since dehydration is a common cause of death in chicks) and clean bedding. Then all you can do is wait and see.

posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 7:30am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i had a egg without yoke is this common and why does it happen

posted on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 5:10pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

An egg without a yolk is not common - did you purchase it from the store? Those should be candled out and not appear on the market.

If the egg was from your own flock, occassionally the hen starts making an egg around something else transported down the oviduct and setting off the 'automated egg making machine'. It may be a piece of the oviduct or some other foreign material. Typically it is a much smaller egg, like the size of a bantam egg for a regular size chicken and the size of a quail egg for a bantam chicken.

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 1:51pm
Carolyn's picture
Carolyn says:

Hi,

We have a 2 year old barred rock who has not layed a normal egg since last year, when she could be counted on for about an egg a day. She stopped laying for a while this year, and we attributed it to the addition of a dog to our family and some architectural changes to the coop - but that was months ago. Now she lays a small egg anywhere from every other day to once every 10 days - these eggs are all without a yoke. Surprisingly, on 2 occasions, she has layed very large eggs that are almost all yoke.

We've had her into the vet and she received a clean bill of health. Also, she continues spend time in her favorite laying spot daily, and appears very healthy otherwise. In case it matters, she appears to be the head bird of our small flock.

Any info would be appreciated.

posted on Sun, 08/26/2007 - 8:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hey there,

We're new to incubating eggs ourselves. For a while now we've been candling one peacock egg and eight silkie eggs. We've been candling them twice a week. All of the eggs showed positive development the first week, although the second week we saw a blood ring in one of the silkie eggs and had to toss it.

We started incubating one of our silkie eggs July 17 and it was due to hatch yesterday! Unfortunately, it didn't pip at all. We accidentally turned it once on day 19...do you think this could have killed the embryo, or did it just delay the hatch?

How long should we wait before throwing it out? I've also heard that if an egg is late to hatch, take a bowl of lukewarm water and set the egg in it for a minute. If it floats, it's rotten, and if it sinks to the bottom, it's still good. Is this true?

Thanks a lot for any help! I really do hope we can get some of our eggs to hatch.

posted on Wed, 08/08/2007 - 12:56pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

If your silkie eggs haven't hatched by now, they aren't going to hatch. You indicated that you accidentally turned it once on day 19 - I assume you were turning the eggs for days 1-18 of incubation. While you don't need to turn on day 19, it won't kill them if you do. So that is not likely to be a cause of the problem. If you are having problems with all the eggs, I would check your incubator.

You inquired about when to throw out the egg. If it hasn't hatched by day 23 of incubation, I would throw it out. If there is a chick in the egg, putting it in water is not a good idea. If you pick up the egg and it is very light, it is rotten and likely to explode (with a very stinky mess) so I would handle with care.

Candling twice a week is a bit excessive - make sure you are doing it with care since rough handling can be a problem. It can be done, and has been done with Embryology in the Classroom, but not recommended.

posted on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 10:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how can u tell the difference between a chicken and a rooster by looking at them?

posted on Sat, 08/11/2007 - 2:30am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I assume you mean the difference between a hen and a rooster since both are chickens.

It depends on the breed, variety and age. It is more difficult to tell with most breeds when the chicks are young, but by 14-15 weeks of age they should be showing the typical external features specific to their sex - larger comb and wattles, hackle feathers and crowing in males.

Refer to the previous message posted on on Tue, 04/10/2007 - 1:46pm. It gives you link to factsheets that may help you.

The message posted on Thu, 05/24/2007 - 11:49am gives more information specifically on sexing silkies.

posted on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 10:30am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I assume you mean the difference between a hen and a rooster, since both are chickens.

Depends on the age. When they are very young it is often difficult to tell them apart without being a trained vent sexer. There are some special 'sex-linked' crosses. You can check out http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/sex_linked_crosses.html website for more information on these specific crosses.

If the chickens were not offspring from one of the few sex-linked crosses you typically have to wait till the chickens are older. Males will have a larger comb and wattles (the red things on their head and neck) and will grow a larger spur. The feathers are a bit different as well - males have different tail feathers and hackle feathers around the neck. Behaviorly, roosters crow and hens don't (although hens do have the physical ability to crow they just don't have the hormone levels to encourage them to do so).

posted on Thu, 01/21/2010 - 8:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

A rooster wears a red crown a top his head. I'm pretty sure,my friend has just informed me.

posted on Sat, 08/11/2007 - 4:18pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

All chickens have a 'comb' on the top of the head and the size typically differs between the two sexes, depending on age. There are different types of combs - Single, Rose, Pea, Buttercup, Cushion, etc.

The University of Illinois website has drawings of the different comb types.

The University of Connecticut website also has diagrams of the different combs and also shows the differences between male and female body shape and feather types.

posted on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 10:37am
chicken_morgan's picture
chicken_morgan says:

Thank u my little egg its a little black silky mix he only hatched a few days ago

posted on Sun, 08/12/2007 - 9:33pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Congrats! I hope he does well.

posted on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 10:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

One of our black silkie chicks just hatched out and there's something hanging from it's rear. It's like a small, stringy dark yellow type of thing, I don't really know how to describe it. Anyway, this thing that is hanging from it's rear is stuck to the shell. The chick's body is completely free from the shell, but that stringy thing is still connected to it. He keeps trying to kick it off of him but the shell just keeps dragging along. What is this? I'm not going to try pulling it off or messing with it until I know what it is because it might do more harm than good.

We had a chick hatch out a couple days ago who seemed to also have this problem. I didn't notice it until I put him in the brooder, but when I picked him up I noticed a dried up stringy thing hanging from him. I don't think it's the yolk sac. That first chick was running around the incubator and was just fine at first, but he ended up dying the next day (I think he broke his leg, he couldn't stand and he was always sleeping. Also, his eyes didn't open, and he kept opening and closing his beak, like he was gasping). I don't think he died because of that stringy thing hanging from him.

posted on Fri, 08/17/2007 - 4:07pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The inside of the shell has remains of blood vessels and different sacs. Sometimes pieces of material get stuck to the chick when it hatches, and if not removed it can get dried on. If it is still attached to the shell (which hopefully two days later it isn't) you can remove the shell half of the attachment.

Sorry to hear about the second chick - but I agree that his death is not related to the material that was stuck to him.

posted on Sun, 08/19/2007 - 4:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I had this problem about a month ago in my incubator.
Most of the chicks hatched out fine but a few of the later ones had this type of stuff sticking to the birds.
After I got them out by themselves I took off the stuff stuck to them. Then I remember the water in the bottom of my incubator and put more water in and the rest of the eggs hatched out just fine.

posted on Wed, 04/15/2009 - 2:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi- I cracked open a hard boiled egg last evening and found a circular pattern in the yolk that continued through the entire yolk. The circle pattern alternated between a normal looking cooked yolk and a darker yellow almost uncooked looking yolk. The darker yellow circle was a thick geletinous consistency. There were two circles of each of the yolk colors. When we cut the yolk in half the pattern ran through the entire yolk.

Has anyone ever heard of something like this? My kids think we have a magical egg on our hands! :-)

One last note-these are "organic and free range" eggs and relatively fresh-an expiration date a month from now.
thanks in advance for anyone's input-cant find anything on line that is helpful!

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 6:31am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Many people know that when trees grow they leave 'rings' that can be counted to tell how old the tree is - one ring for each year. A similar situation occurs with egg yolks - each day that they put down yolk you get a ring. The nature of the ring depends on the nutrition of the hen on that day. If you add different feed colors every day, you will get eggs with different colored rings. I haven't heard of the consistency you mentioned so can't really guess what caused it, especially without seeing it. If they are free-ranging it may be something they ate. If the latter is the case, you would probably see more of these funny-looking eggs.

posted on Sun, 08/19/2007 - 4:48pm
Ravaris's picture
Ravaris says:

It's vary possibule that the egg had been fertilized acidently. Though most farmers try to keep that from happning it's not always possibule. Don't qote me on this though it's only a guess. It could also just be a play of light. But I would not be so quick to throw out that magic egg idea just yet...

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 2:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thanks for responding-I love the magic egg idea although being somewhat neurotic I would love the scientific reason behind this. We took lots of pictures and I was thinking I could contact an extension agency and see if they have heard of such a thing. If anyone is interested in a photo, I can upload and send one your way. I am very curious (and not very knowledgable about chickens or eggs, although my mom raised chickens all the time I was growing up I avoided contact with them)...why would a fertilized egg have circular patterns inside the yolk?

the mystery continues, thanks again to Ravaris for responding....

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 9:05pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Fertilization would not effect the rings of a yolk. If it was fertilized, with minimal embryonic development, the only area that would be affected is is blastodisc (the white spot on the surface of the yolk).

posted on Sun, 08/19/2007 - 4:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

actually I have had this happen too and I have chickens, I don't think it is because it is fertile. I think it is because it was under boiled.

posted on Wed, 03/07/2012 - 10:19pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I found a diagram online that gives a bit of insight into the rings of the yolk. It talks about the alternating rings of yellow and white. They yellow rings are laid down during the day when the chicken is eating and has yellow pigment in the material it is eating (from grass, yellow corn, etc.). The white rings are put down at night when the level of pigments in the blood stream are lower.

posted on Sun, 08/19/2007 - 5:04pm
Jess's picture
Jess says:

I have a cochin hen named Mama (named for her great mothering in the past) who really let me down this round. We currently don't have a mature rooster so when she is done laying we buy her a dozen fertilized eggs from a friend just so she has something to do (she is impossible to break once she gets broody.) Early Sunday morning when my husband went out she was clucking so he looked in on her. This was a day early in incubation but the chicks had started hatching. We had 2 beautiful chicks, 3 that had already started to pip and 4 squished dead ones. The other three turned out to be duds. The 2 survivors were on the outside edge of the nest. We took them and the 3 that had pipped and finished hatching them inside. We replaced the nest and let her sit on the other three (we just threw the them out today.) I have never heard of a hen squishing her babies like that. I'm just curious whether I should trust her to hatch anymore or if we need to invest in an incubator for any future endeavors.

posted on Tue, 08/21/2007 - 4:25pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

A hen that has usually been a good 'natural incubator' in the past typically remains so. The death of the chicks may have resulted from some event that startled the hen and the chicks were trampled as she was trying to avoid some perceived danger. If she does it twice in a row, I wouldn't trust her any more - but a one time event is not enough to re-classify her as a bad mama.

posted on Tue, 08/21/2007 - 5:44pm
Simon Jolley's picture
Simon Jolley says:

I am about to set up an incubator for a class of Rural Science students, so they can hatch some chicks and care for them. I am getting the eggs from a local wildlife park (fertile assumed). My question is - how long can the eggs be kept in a viable state prior to going into the incubator and under what conditions should they be kept? I need to give the park enough time to collect enough eggs for the whole class to have one each - term starts in two weeks.

posted on Wed, 08/22/2007 - 8:43am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The Animal Science Department at the U has links to several factsheets related to incubation that may be of interest to you. At the bottom of the page are links to several factsheets that will help with the storage of the eggs. It will depend on what type of eggs - you indicated they were coming from a wildlife park so I won't assume that they are chicken eggs, though they could be.

In general, you can easily keep eggs for 1-2 weeks before incubating - but hatchability declines with increased storage time (increased embryo mortality). You need to keep the storage temperature below 65F (physiological zero) so that no embryo development occurs when not incubated (embryo development at below incubation temperature could result in high mortality and morbidity). Typical storage temps are 55F - which is higher than most refrigerators. Storing hatching eggs at 45F (most fridges), however, is too cold.

Make sure that you allow stored eggs to reach room temperature before putting in the incubator - and sudden change from cold to hatching temps can result in increased embryo mortality.

posted on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 10:32am
brooke's picture
brooke says:

well chicks are coll an cute and cuddly

posted on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 8:06pm
brooke's picture
brooke says:

chicks r cute and cuddlie

posted on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 8:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

not just that they are very nice and when become older they are more scared of you

posted on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 1:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yes, they are cute!

posted on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 3:04pm
Michelle's picture
Michelle says:

I bought some cochins from a hatchery, and had them vaccinate for Marek's disease. Now that my hatchery chickens are raising their own babies, I've been trying to find ways to vaccinate them- I found it's just not practical for me. Have my new baby chicks been exposed to Marek's because their parents were vaccinated? Can you tell me what Marek's is?

posted on Mon, 09/03/2007 - 8:29am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Marek's is a viral disease that is highly contagious. If your birds have access to the outdoors, it it good to vaccinate them. They do not get prolonged protection from their parents. They have to be vaccinated immediately after hatching for the vaccine to be effective. Once they have been exposed to the outdoors it is typically too late.

You can find more information on Marek's disease on the of the University of Minnesota's website.

posted on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 10:27am
martha's picture
martha says:

well i just happen to be very experienced with chickens.
i raise close to 600 chickens on my egg farm in portland maine,
and about 300 of my chickens have had mareks disease.
mareks disease is a huge problem amongst chicken farmers world wide,
it causes chickens to become unkempt and unmanageable,
and what i always have had to end up doing is kill or eat them.
but once i eat them i become very sick for about a week.
so i would suggest just killing them and not bother with the vaccinations.

posted on Mon, 09/03/2007 - 5:19pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Marek's vaccine can be useful if the chicks are vaccinated before they come in contact with the virus (which is pretty much every where these days). Vaccinating sick chickens will not help - and there is no cure for Marek's. Vaccination is not a guarantee that your flock won't get Marek's disease - you need to practice good biosecurity.

It is typically not a good idea to eat sick birds.

posted on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 10:55am
mana's picture
mana says:

have a broody hen sitting on 4 eggs. I have been removing her twice aday till day 14 then I reduced this to once aday. Today being day 19 I removed her to dust her and the nest with mite powder (as a precaution). There is no sign of movement or sounds coming from the eggs? I moved the eggs once each just to check any signs...have I made a terrible mistake? The hen went back to sit on the eggs but half and hour later I went into the garden and she had come off and was eating and drinking. Does this mean she is giving up (I did shuffle her back in the nest box and she sat back on the eggs?).
Please advise - thank you.

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 7:09am
trying to help's picture
trying to help says:

I would advise you to leave her alone. When she lays the last egg, she will do what she needs to do. Anything can upset her enough to leave the nest, most of all moving her around. From the date of the last egg, it takes around 30 days or so for hatchings to start. Since it has been so warm, she is able to leave the nest to take care of herself more because they will be warm enough without her for a bit. Without watching her, it would be hard for me to say the eggs are fine. Hopefully there is a rooster around or they wont do anything obviously. I would leave her alone and don't give up until it has been at least a month since the 4th egg was laid. I hope everything goes well!! Please post your results.

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 8:49am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

'trying to help' is correct - you should just leave the hen alone. If she is broody she knows what to do, by instinct, to take care of the eggs and herself. If she is not broody you can't force her to sit on eggs - since a hormonal change is required to activate the broody batch that heats the eggs during the 21 day incubation period (assuming they are chicken eggs). Handling her too much can result in nest abandonment so they are best left alone.

posted on Fri, 09/07/2007 - 12:12pm
mana's picture
mana says:

Thank you for your response. The eggs are not hers. As she was broody we got 4 eggs from our local breeder who said they were fertile. We didn't candle them (as we didn't know you could do this till only recently, by which time we I understand day 18 would be too late). She sat on them straight away and has been fine up till now. She is back on them so maybe it'll be ok? Do you get any signs before hatching? Thank you.

posted on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 10:17am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

You can sometimes hear the chicks before the eggs hatch - but most often you don't see any signs of hatching till the hen takes them off the nest. If they are hatching, you can sometimes see them pipping (starting to break through the shell) around 20 days of age.

As an aside - you can candle eggs at 18 days to remove infertile eggs or dead embryos. If it is a dark mass inside, there is probably a chick.

posted on Fri, 09/07/2007 - 12:15pm
trying to help's picture
trying to help says:

As long as your hen is still sitting on the eggs, you are probably fine. At some point in the near future, if any of the eggs are rotten, she will remove them from the nest herself, or I have heard of hens moving the entire nest away from the rotten one(s). Now its just a waiting game. Let nature do its thing for a couple of weeks. I know its hard, i've done it. Good Luck!!

posted on Fri, 09/07/2007 - 3:26pm
mana's picture
mana says:

Hi, Can I just say thank you to 'trying to help' and 'Jacquie Jacob' for their email responses. It means alot when you can get help and advice from people.
Out of the 4 eggs 2 of them have hatched - amazing, what a great sight. Sorry to be a pest but can anyone advise how long I should leave the other 2 eggs in there? The hen is still sitting on them with the chicks also under her but I had a nosie to see if I could see any cracks or pipping (or even hear anything) but I can't. Any advice? Thank you.

posted on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:41am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There can be up to 24 hour between the first and last egg hatching - if it is more than that, any chicks that may hatch would be very weak. If you have to help a chick out, they are most likely going to be poor chicks (though there are exceptions).

When chicks hatch they take the remaining yolk sac into them and they can actually obtain their required nutrient and water levels for the first 24 hours - which is why it is okay to mail chicks through the mail. When they reach 36-48 hours of age, the first thing they are going to need is water. If the hen is still sitting on the eggs when the chicks are 48 hours old, I would remove the eggs and encourage the hen to take the chicks to eat and drink.

posted on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:06am
mana's picture
mana says:

Update: We have 2 adorable chicks but sadly the other 2 eggs never made it. My husband decided to crack open the eggs to see what the problem may have been ( how far the chicks had got?). One of the eggs was just like any egg with yolk inside and the other had a tiny chick formed in it - with some feathers but was very small therefore had obviously died early on. Pretty upsetting!

Mum seems happy enough with her 2 babies though and all are doing well.

Thank you once again for the helpful advice.

Bye for now....

posted on Wed, 09/12/2007 - 4:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is it true that you should never help a chick out of its eggshell? I heard that somewhere.
Also, any other fun facts about chicken mothers? I'm writing a play and any interesting facts would help... but especially about the eggshell thing.
Thanks!

posted on Mon, 09/17/2007 - 11:03am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Typically it is not a good idea to help a hatching chicken out of the egg - if the embryo is not properly developed you may break a blood vessel causing the chick to bleed to death. If the chick is sufficiently developed, it is typically the weaker chicks that can't get out on their own - so commercially they are not helped. But for the small flock it is more feasible. If a chick is not properly positioned in the shell it may not be able to hatch out - helping such chicks often not a problem.

So I guess the answer is - it depends.

The 4-H School Enrichment resources on the University of Minnesota website is a good resource for information on embryology. Hope that helps.

posted on Tue, 09/18/2007 - 11:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

great point jacquie, couldn't agree with you more...but i have one comment. by chick, do you mean the offspring of a chicken, or do you mean an attractive young woman? if you could clear up my confusion, i would really appreciate it. danke.

posted on Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Please can somebody tell me how long a freshly laid egg will keep for in the refridgerator before it should be eaten? Thanks

posted on Wed, 09/26/2007 - 11:10am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Egg producers are required to put a 'Best Buy' date on egg cartons. This is typically 30 days from the date of packaging. It is possible, however, to store eggs for much longer than this, especially if kept in the fridge at the right temperature. The main change in eggs stored for prolonged period of times is simply a decline in egg quality (from a AA to a B grade) which means the egg white will spread out more in the pan. If the egg is being used in a recipe then this is not a problem. Old eggs just don't make good devil eggs or fried eggs.

posted on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 12:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thanks very much Dr Jacquie for your reply. I won't be selling my eggs though, and really just wondered whether the eggs would keep for that long in a normal fridge. I always thought that maybe shop bought eggs had somehow been preserved or something to make the date longer. But if that's the case, I will assume that I can keep my freshly laid eggs for 1 month in the fridge without them going off.

posted on Fri, 09/28/2007 - 10:23am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Commercial operations wash all their eggs in warm water (temp has to be a certain amount higher than the internal temp of the eggs) and in doing so wash of the bloom, a thin membrane put on the eggs just before they are laid and which acts as a barrier to bacteria. To replace the lost bloom, they frequently spray the eggs with a thin coating of mineral oil. This has been shown to extend the shelf life of table eggs.

If your eggs are clean they don't need to be washed - and the bloom remains intact.

I have kept eggs for 2-3 months with out having the eggs 'go off' - I just never use them for deviled or fried eggs.

posted on Sun, 09/30/2007 - 1:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have some fairly young pullets, just started laying a couple of months ago. when it got really hot weather, they stopped laying. only 3 of 12 are laying now. what do you think the problem is. i have a friend that has the same kind of birds a few miles from me, his is laying good.

posted on Sat, 09/29/2007 - 8:36am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There are several things that can cause hens to go out of lay. There are several factsheets available online that describe some of the problems - for example: 'Why Have My Hens Stopped Laying?' from Virginia Tech and 'Molting and Other Causes of Feather Loss in Small Poultry Flocks' from Kansas State University .

Nutrition is often the main factor - did the hens reduce feed consumption during the hot weather? If so, they will not have consumed enough to maintain egg production. It often takes hens to a long time to return to their previous production level.

posted on Sun, 09/30/2007 - 1:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I always wondered if by accident sometime I would get an egg with a baby in it. i'm happy to know that i won't.

posted on Sun, 09/30/2007 - 2:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi there,

In order to get fertilized eggs, do the hens need to mate everyday or will one "servicing" from a rooster be enough to last for a week?

posted on Tue, 10/02/2007 - 2:49am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

One mating can provide enough semen for at least a week. The percent of fertile eggs decrease with time, so if artificially inseminating commercially, hens will be inseminated twice a week. For most chickens where the hen and rooster are running around in a pen, matings typically occur more than once a day, and definitely more than once a week.

Female chickens have sperm pouches were they can store sperm from a mating. The sperm CAN be viable for several weeks, but typically fertility decreases after about 1.5 weeks.

There is a good description of the female chicken reproductive tract available online. The information is provided by Dr. Thomas Caceci of Virginia Tech.

posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 7:50am
Cathy's picture
Cathy says:

I now have 10 hens I gave away my rooster, he was mean, and attacked people. Anyway to my question,all of a sudden I have a hen (not sure who) is laying eggs that the shell cracks very easy. I just wash them & they crack all to pieces... Do they need a vitamins? I am still feeding them cracked corn, berries & laying pellets. Please help?

posted on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It sounds like a calcium deficiency (and maybe some of the minerals that work with Ca in bone formation - phosphorus and magnesium). Vitamin D is also important in calcium uptake and utilization.

The laying pellets are a balance of the need nutrients - including energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. By diluting it with cracked corn you are diluting some of the nutrients - which may be the cause of the nutrient deficiency. Adding some oyster shell - either top dressing the layer pellets or adding it as a 'side dish' - may help. Chickens do typically have a 'calcium appetite' and will seek out additional calcium sources.

If you check out the University's poultry website there are several online publications regarding the nutrition and feeding of backyard flocks.

posted on Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:26pm
Betsi's picture
Betsi says:

I have been reading this site for 2 days off and on now. I learned alot. I have 6 hens and a rooster. I have some issues. The first thing is I live in a cold climate and I got a heat lamp for my chickens to stay warm. I keep the light on all the time so that I know for sure they are staying warm when they need it. I bought a red light as I was told white light can damage the eyes of the chickens. Is this true? Another thing. My hens stopped laying eggs about 2 weeks ago I thought it was too cold for them thats why I got the light hoping they would start laying again in addition to keeping them warm. I feed my chickens a good diet with everything they need. They have been AWESOME layers for me until now SO I was wondering I think because the days are getting shorter thats why they stopped laying. Is the heat lamp enough light all the time to make it where they have enough light to lay eggs again or do I need to put some other lighting out there? I noticed several links on this site that would help me out BUT I am not able to bring them up when I click on them :(. Anyway any help would be great.

Thanks

posted on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Minnesota is considered to have a cold climate - so we can all sympathize. A heat lamp is required for adults only when it gets really could or when the housing is not well insulated. Red heating lamps are typically better - it is not that the white light will damage the eyes of the chickens, but the laying of eggs is afffected by day length, that is, the number of hours of light per day. With a white heating lamp they have 24 hours of light per day (assuming that the lamp is left on over night, the coldest part of the day) which can distrupt their laying.

There are several online poultry factsheets that you can link to through the U of MN's poultry website. The ones of particular interest for your situation may be Factors affecting egg production in barnyard chicken flocks from the University of Florida and Why have my hens stopped laying from Virginia Tech.

As you mentioned, hens are stimulated to go into egg production with increasing day length and go out of production with decreasing day length - so supplemental light so that the hens have at least 14 hours of light per day (minimum required, sometimes 15-16 hours works better for maintaining egg production in older hens).

If you have trouble with some of the links that I have put up, just go to www.poultryu.com and click on 'Publications and Resources' in the top left corner and it will take you to a wide variety of factsheets related to poultry production.

posted on Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi Tammy,

Oyster shell will help with that.

posted on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:25pm
Michael Bowers's picture
Michael Bowers says:

I want to go back to the original question: why would a chicken waste so much energy producing an egg that isn't fertilized? Eggs are huge! It must be quite a drain on resources to lose this otherwise highly nutritional material. Is this a product of domestication? Do any/all wild birds regularly lay unfertilized eggs? Is bird ovulation regular, as it is for humans?
Sorry if I missed responses to these in the above threads. Thanks for the great site!

posted on Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:55pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Egg laying chickens were genetically selected for egg production - it is not something they would be doing to this extent in the wild where they would only lay eggs during the breeding season. A hen doesn't know whether an egg is fertile or not - it is the same process to make can egg in either case. Wild birds will be stimulated to lay eggs during the breeding season and will lay eggs whether they are fertile or not.

I like to use the analogy of women's periods - they have their period once a month whether they are sexually active or not (and whether they want it or not). It is the same with chickens, only they ovulate more often (once per day for the more productive hens).

posted on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 10:20am
mindi's picture
mindi says:

hi, I would like to know if there is a safe procedure to stop my rooster from crowing, I dont mind it but my husband does...I dont want to get rid of him, ( my rooster that is....) thanks for all your input !

posted on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 8:36am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Sorry - but there is no safe way to stop a rooster from crowing. Years ago they use to 'de-crow' roosters with a surgical procedures but since the voice box is part of the respiratory system mortality was VERY high (typically at least 50% even for experienced surgeons). I don't know of any vets that would do such a procedure today.

Castrating roosters is not an option. I'm sure you've observed that the male reproductive organs are located within the body of the rooster. They are very close to the kidneys - and trying to remove them would be extremely difficult and most likely fatal. They do castrate young male chickens (in the production of capons) but this is done at a very young age when the males are still chicks (and the testes relatively small).

posted on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 11:50am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am wondering if an egg is incubated, at what point can you no longer eat it. You can sex an egg by PCR or the estrogen levels of the allontoic fluid, do you know anything about H-Y antigen or if you can sex an egg the day it is layed prior to putting it in the incubator?

posted on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 5:23pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The option to eat a developing embryo is a personal one. In the Phillipines and Vietnam they incubate duck eggs to 18 days (of their 28 day incubation period), which is just before the feathers start to develop, then boil, salt and eat the hard-cooked embryo. So I guess it is a matter of taste.

Any sexing of eggs as you described would mostly like be destructive (you can sample the inside of an egg and re-seal, but the success is very much dependent on the technican). Having said that, an H-Y antigen wouldn't necessarily work since chickens don't have Y chromosomes.

In avian genetics the male is ZZ while the female is ZW (so for birds it is the female that genetically determines the sex of the offspring and not the male as in mammals).

I haven't heard of anyone trying to sex embryos except for genetic modification - see the research paper A simple Method For Sexing Chicken Embryos at state X.

I hope that answers you question.

posted on Mon, 10/29/2007 - 11:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Can you settle an arguement for me please. Is a egg a chickens period?

posted on Tue, 10/30/2007 - 8:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

An egg is the analogous to the female period in that it is laid whether she is sexually active or not, it just happens more frequently - thus a hen does not need a rooster to lay an egg.

From the From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Ovulation is the process in the menstrual cycle by which a mature ovarian follicle ruptures and discharges an ovum (also known as an oocyte, female gamete, or casually, an egg) that participates in reproduction. Ovulation also occurs in the estrous cycle of other animals, which differs in many fundamental ways from the menstrual cycle." The chicken goes through the same hormonal cycles as women do, just on a sped up basis. The 'ovum' is made up of the female genetic material it is located in the blastodisc on the yolk. and the yolk itself. The ovum and the albumen (plus the membranes and shells) make up what we refer to as an 'egg.'

I hope that settles your agrument.

posted on Wed, 10/31/2007 - 10:20am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am wanting to know what the partial pressures of O2 and CO2 and the humidity within the air-cell of a chicks egg at day E19 of incubation is. Also wandering what the effects of exposing the air-cell to external environment (incubation conditions) could have on the chicks development. I know the the chicks will dehydrate from increased vapour loss but what would about if the air-cell was then covered. Trying to find literature about this sorta thing but don't have much luck.

posted on Fri, 11/02/2007 - 2:08am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

To find some of the information you are looking for, I would go to the 'scholar' version of google (go to http://scholar.google.com/) and use the search phrase of 'gas pressures in the incubated chicken egg'. Some interesting articles come up - if they are not directly related, check the list of references to see if there is something closer to what you are looking for.

posted on Fri, 11/02/2007 - 1:36pm
Kiren Bartlett's picture
Kiren Bartlett says:

Jacquie, This site is lovely, you obviously give up a lot of personal time to help people - this is great.

I am a Mother of three lovely boys, 11, 9 & 3 years, who have become obsessed with chickens. We started with 3 Silkie hens and 1 Rooster. 2 of the Silkie hens died recently, they were very runty and just died for no reason, anyway we have one left Snowball and she has laid 4 beautifiul little eggs the first one on the 20th October and then one every 2 days until we have 4. I can only find blobs in 2 of her eggs but she is not the greatest Mum and we are constantly popping her back on them. However we have 1 Isa Brown and 2 Rhode Island Reds all young around 8 - 12 months and they seem to like to sit on them too. Should I resue them and pop them in an incubutor??.

Snowy is a young Silkie only 10 months so if we do not have success we can always try next Spring.

Kiren :-)

posted on Fri, 11/02/2007 - 4:45pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I'm not sure what you mean by a 'blob' in each egg - are you refering to the egg yolk or is there no egg yolk at all? If there is no yollk, there is no way the egg can be fertilized.

Silkie roosters are typically much smaller than Isa Brown and Rhode Island Reds (unless they are bantams) so if you only have the one rooster, fertility may be low because of the size difference.

There is more to natural incubation than just forcing a hen to sit on her eggs - she needs to actually be 'broody' which involves hormone changes and results in the development of a 'brood patch' that is actually used to provide the heat for the eggs she is sitting on. You want to make sure the hens are actually broody before trying to use them as natural incbuators. Of course, if you don't want to eat the eggs, there is no harm in trying - just keep an eye on the time so that they don't go rotten and explode (incubation time is 21 days - if they haven't hatched by 28 days I'd throw the out - and if they are light weight, throw them out carefully).

posted on Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I would like to know is there a certain time of the year chickens do not lay?

posted on Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:58pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

With proper light manipulation, most chicken breeds can be made to lay year round. In general, poultry come into lay with increasing lamount of light per day and go out of lay with decreasing amount of light per day.

The University of California, Davis has an interesting factsheet online line - Lighting programs for table egg layers. It outlines some of the lighting programs being used in commercial operations.

In general, you need to maintain a minimum of 14 hours of light per day to keep the hens in lay - so you need to supplement natural daylight if that is their only light source. You can get timers for the lights that can turn them on and off as needed.

posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 11:24am
Colby's picture
Colby says:

I have about 20 chickens. They are all large breed and sleep in the same coop. I have places for them to roost but they only want to roost on top of my nesting boxes, so while they are sleeping if their are any eggs in the box they poop all over them.What can i do to prevent this.

posted on Fri, 11/16/2007 - 8:29pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Two things might help:
1. Put something on the nesting boxes that prevents them from roosting there, such as a piece of wire.
2. Try and figure out why they are not using the roosts you have for them - are they too high, not round enough for a good grip, etc.

posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 11:33am
kleino's picture
kleino says:

i incubated 19 chicken eggs.13 hatched nicely and the chicks are doing well. 2 of the un hatched eggs were almost completely broken in half , but the chicks never made it out of the shell. one more pipped but didn't make it out and 3 were not even pipped and did not make it out either. all the un hatched ones were fully developed we found out when we broke the shells open.i opened the vents on top of the incubator when the first ones started hatching and the temperature dropped from 102 to 99 , so i plugged one vent up.i also added more water to bring the humidity up from 55% to 65%. the humidity actually went to about 70% to 80% instead. anyone have any theories as to why these guys didn't make it ?

posted on Sun, 11/18/2007 - 11:35am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

An embryo must be in the correct position before it can hatch - head under its left wing and in the large end of the egg. There are always a small percentage of embryos in the wrong position and thus typically unable to get out. Some pip the shell but then don't have the strength to make it out - this can typically be traced back to a breeder diet problem.

There are several factsheets available online through the University of Minnesota's poultry website. You may find them helpful in diagnosing your problem.

posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 11:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am incubating about 40 chicken eggs. They are mainly Rhode Island Red eggs and some silkies. Can you tell me what to look for and other helpful facts about candling the eggs?

posted on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 10:05pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

You should be able to see the embryo outline clearly by 7 days of age, although I only candle them at 18 days when I transfer them from the incubator (where they are turned regularly) to the hatcher (no turning and trays to hold the hatching chicks).

If an egg is infertile, you will see only a clear egg when it is candled - i.e., no shadows of anything inside.
If it was fertile but the embryo died early, you will see a blood ring around the ring, typically in the large end of the egg where the air cell is.
At 18 days, if there is a close to hatch embryo in the egg it will appear dark inside. If however, it is dark inside but VERY light - be careful because it may be rotten and can explode if broken (leaving a VERY bad odor in the area for quite a while).

A couple of online University of California publications may be of some assistance, although the photos are of turkey eggs. The first is Egg Candling and Breakout Analysis. The second is Egg Candling and Break Out Analysis for Hatchery Quality Assurance and Analysis of Poor Hatches.

posted on Fri, 11/23/2007 - 12:57pm
mindi lepacek's picture
mindi lepacek says:

hi, hopefully you can give me some insight of what might have gone wrong. several of my rhode island reds had laid eggs in 1 nest( yes, they were exposed to a rooster ) as soon as there were 10 eggs in the nest ...one of my light brahmas started laying on the nest, she was extremely broody, wouldnt eat etc....she was always on the nest. for the first 2 weeks of incubation the clutch was in the nest box, after that she moved all of them on the floor ( with straw) , on the 18th day, she moved them again approx. 2 feet over, on the 19th day, she was off the nest and there were only 7 eggs in the nest and the other 3 were spread far away from the nest, they were extremely cold. when I picked up the strays they jiggled inside like someone put a rock in them, I cracked them open and there wasnt anything inside but yolk, red looking without an embryo. on day 20 she was off the nest and there were only 5 eggs in the nest and I cannot find the other 2, the 5 remaining eggs were also very cold to the touch almost like they came out of the fridge. our weather here has been about 28 at night and about 47 during the day.... I assumed the eggs were dead. I cracked 3 and they were all just reddish yellow looking liquid without embryos, 2 of them did have chicks inside , 1 was completely feathered and filled the entire egg, there was no liquid , it was very dry, but it was clearly dead and not from me opeining it, the other had a very small chick in it which was almost feathered but definetly not as mature as the other one, very wet still attached to the yolk sack but also extremly cold and it actually looked as if it had died sometime this day.
why do you think that the hen abandoned this nest ? any suggestions.

thank you

posted on Sun, 11/25/2007 - 9:37pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is hard to say what did go wrong.

I guess there are a number of possibilities to consider:

  • Just because a hen is sitting on a nest does not necessarily mean that she is broody. To be 'broody' a hormonal changes has to occur within the hen which results in the brood patch located in her abdominal area to be 'activated'. The brood patch provides the correct amount of heat necessary for proper incubation of the eggs. If a hen is just sitting on the eggs without the brood patch activated there will be a sub-optimal temperature and embryo development will be impaired. ;
  • The number of roosters to the number of hens may not be sufficient for a high level of fertilization, some of the hens are good at avoiding the rooster, if it is just one rooster he may not be sufficiently fertile. All of these factors could rest in a reduced rate of fertility.;
  • Something may have disturbed the hen in the nest - and that can include the other hens, especially at night.

With regards to the eggs themselves:

  • You indicated that some of the eggs 'jiggled inside like someone put a rock in them, I cracked them open and there wasnt anything inside but yolk, red looking without an embryo'. The fact that there was red in the egg may indicate that there was early embryo development to the level of blood formation and then the embryo died. This can happen with an incorrect, or inconsistent, incubating temperature.;
  • You also indicated that 'I cracked 3 and they were all just reddish yellow looking liquid without embryos'. Again, the reddish yellow liquid makes me believe there was some early embryo development and that they died. The embryos would be small and not necessary easy to find if you don't know what you are looking for.;
  • '2 of them did have chicks inside , 1 was completely feathered and filled the entire egg, there was no liquid , it was very dry, but it was clearly dead and not from me opeining it, the other had a very small chick in it which was almost feathered but definetly not as mature as the other one, very wet still attached to the yolk sack but also extremly cold and it actually looked as if it had died sometime this day.' Again, if the temperature is not optimal you can get abnormal development. The embryo needs to be in the correct position in order to hatch (Head under left wing in the large end of the egg). Incorrectly positioned embryos typically are not able to hatch. Incorrect positioning is another indication of sub-optimal incubation temperatures.
    .
posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 11:06am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There are three main reasons that the hen may of abandoned the nest:

  • Although see was sitting on the nest she wasn't actually broody. To be physically broody, hormonal changes need to occur within the hen. These changes result in the brooding behavior as well as the activation of the brood patch on the belly of the chicken. It is brood patch that provides the optimal heat for the incubating eggs.;
  • She may have been disturbed while on the nest - this would include the other hens who may have pushed the eggs out of the nest rather than her trying to move them herself.;
  • If the hen was not truly broody the incubation temperature would have been suboptimal. This would have resulted in the problems with embryo development causing early deads (that is probably what you were seeing when there was red in the eggs) as well as the embryos being inocorrectly positioned in the egg to allow for hatching (the have to have their head under the left wing in the large end of the egg). Hens are often said to be able to determine when the eggs are not going to hatch and will abandon them if they believe this to be the case.
posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 11:20am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thank you so mcuh ! you are really informative, I love this website.

posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a hen that all of a sudden has been sitting on the eggs for 3 days now and wont move I saw my neighbors rooster over her the other day but not sure if he was near the hens. My hens are free to roam How would I know if the egg is fertilized? and if the Rooster did come in contact with my hen? Also How long do eggs last out side in the cold after they lay them? Thanks

posted on Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

This a frequently asked question and if you go back over some of the previous replies you'll find some information - but a brief answer to your questions:

  1. Your question with regards to knowing if the eggs are fertile or not. You can't tell by just looking at the shell. The best way is to wait a few more days and then candle the eggs. I assume they are brown eggs (or at least dark eggs) so they will be harder to candle then white eggs but you should be able to see embryo development in the egg by 10 days of incubation;
  2. A pair of chickens can mate once and will have a fairly high level of fertile eggs for about a week - depending on the fertility of the rooster and the then. After that the percent of fertile eggs decreases, although you can still get a fertile egg or two for several weeks after several matings.;
  3. As to how long eggs last outside in the cold it depends on the temperature where they eggs. Table eggs stored at 45F will last for several weeks. Hatching eggs stored at 55F will last a couple of weeks - assuming they don't go through periods of increased temperature (but lower than optimal incubation temperature - in which case you will have a high percentage of dead and malformed embryos).

I hope that answers your questions. You can use a flashlight in a dark room to candle the eggs, but if you would like ideas on how to make a more permanent candler check out the following websites:

You can also check out the photos on the Candling for fertile eggs section of the Wonder Quest website.

posted on Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:15pm
tony's picture
tony says:

does a chicken egg gain weight as it develops from yolk to chick while within eggshell?

posted on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 6:41pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Good question - first time I've seen that question.

Eggs actually lose eggs during embryo development - 11-14% is an acceptable range. Humidity in the incubator is important in the control of egg weight loss.

posted on Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:31pm
Lozz's picture
Lozz says:

i need help i have an adorable super friendly bantam hen.....and i would like to breed her but i only have an isa brown mix rooster, and i am worried if they mate will the eggs be to big for her to lay and kill her?

posted on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 9:20pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

If they can mate - there shouldn't be any problems with the egg size.The hen decides the egg size, not the genetics of the offspring. I would be more interested in whether or not the hybrid chick will have a higher embryo growth rate and will still be able to develop in the egg bantam lays. I haven't heard of any research in this area, but I would suspect it wouldn't be a problem. When I was younger we had a variety of different breeds of chickens of all shapes and sizes and we didn't keep them separate so I'm sure a few of the offspring would be from the crossing of different sizes of chickens - but have no proof of that.

posted on Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:46pm
Clay's picture
Clay says:

I have seen many comments regarding providing a minimum of 14 hours of light per day. Is there any detrimental effect to leaving the light on 24 hrs a day? I typically leave a single 60W to 100W bulb w/a shade over it near the nesting boxes all night. I have about 18 hens but only get about 4 eggs a day during the winter months. They are Buff Orpington's and are supposed to have a good laying rate all year. Am I getting the expected amount of eggs per day or should I put the light on a timer?

Thanks, Clay

posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 3:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

24 hours of light per day is too much. While it is possible for chickens to lay eggs in total darkness (blind chickens even lay lots of eggs) or in total light, they will not lay at peak performance. 14 hours is typically the minimum per day and 18 hours the maximum.

Chickens also prefer dark places to lay eggs so keeping a light over the nest box can lead to more floor eggs. Chickens can also be cannibalistic and having a lighted area where they lay eggs can result in other hens pecking the rear of those laying eggs resulting in a severe case of cannibalism.

I would recommend putting the light on a timer or at least moving it into an area where it does not light up the entire poultry house at night.

posted on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 11:23pm
Steph's picture
Steph says:

I have two hens - 9 months old - no rooster. I don't know what kind they are - but I just got my 1st egg two weeks ago. I live in sunny, SW Florida, and one of my friends told me that if I leave the next egg I get in the nest, the hen will be more likely to lay another one. Is this true? And how long can I leave it in the nest (remember, it's warm here) before it becomes inedible? Also, I give them oyster shell...any idea what else I can do to produce egg production? Thanks!

posted on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 8:12am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The idea of leaving the egg in the nest box is more to get them to use the nest box (rather than hiding their eggs elsewhere) and really won't stimulate them to lay eggs. I've used a golf ball with some good results - and they are less likely to go rotten. Leaving eggs in the nest makes them more likely to become contaminated with bacteria. And if they accidentally get broken they can be the start of an egg eating problem.

Two main things control egg laying - light schedule (they come into production with increasing daylength) and feed. Many people feed only scratch, or half scratch/half purchased layer feed. While this will reduce your feed bill they will also reduce the number of eggs that are laid.

posted on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 11:28pm
hector's picture
hector says:

Do hens have spurs as well as roosters and can this be a way to tell the sex of pullets

posted on Tue, 12/25/2007 - 2:18pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Both sexes have spurs - but the spur is typically larger in males than in females with the difference becoming more pronounced as they age. For most species the spur of the female is not pronouced until they are laying hens. By then you should also be able to differentiate between the sexes by the feathers in the tail, back and neck.

posted on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 1:12am
Hector's picture
Hector says:

Thanks for the answer about the spurs. Now could you explane how to tell sex by the neck and back. I know the difference of the tail fethers. Thank you HECTOR

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 8:17am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I suggest you check out a publication I wrote when I worked at the University of Minnesota - it has a section on telling the differences between the sexes.

The publication is on sex reversal in chickens but it has a section and diagram on telling the differences between the sexes.

Basically the male has longer and more pointed hackle feathers (located around the neck and flowing on to the back of the chicken) than the female. The male and female both have main tail feathers, but only the male has saddle feathers.

I hope that helps.

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 7:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hi one more question . They said on the site you recomded that only roosters have saddle fethers. Could you tell me how to tell the difference from those that a hen has.thanks HECTOR PS Thanks for the previous help

posted on Sat, 12/29/2007 - 9:56am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

In general, male feathers are long and pointed while female feathers have rounded ends.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:31pm
Colby's picture
Colby says:

I would just like to say for those of you wondering it is possible for a large breed chicken to breed a female bantam. I have learned from experience. The chickens turnen out to be medium sized and grew up to be very strong and healthy.

posted on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 10:26pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

That is what I had expected - but it is always great to have someone commenting who had experience. Thanks for sharing.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:32pm
Colby's picture
Colby says:

My chickens just recently took about a two week break from laying but then started back laying, at first I thought maybe they were molting, but it takes longer than two weeks to molt. Could you tell me what caused this? Thanks and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

posted on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 10:30pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

A molt takes longer than 2 weeks. It is not usual for egg production to be turned on and off like a light switch. Sor it is hard to say what the problem was. My first suggestion would be to check and see if something (or someone) was getting in to take the eggs.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:34pm
frank's picture
frank says:

i have a road island red and she has been laying about 8 months but now her eggs have this white sandy type stuff on them and it is almost like clumps on the shell,would any of you know what this is and what do i do about it. thanks frank.

posted on Wed, 01/02/2008 - 5:19pm
Colby's picture
Colby says:

It is most likely added calcium. I may been in my teens but i know a good bit about chickens, plus this has happened to me before. It should eventually stop. It is really not to much of anything to worry about.

posted on Thu, 01/03/2008 - 7:53pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Colby - Thanks for the input. I hope people aren't undervaluing your input because of your age. I find the greatest resource for putting together poultry-related workshops (for youth or adults) are 4-Hers and other youth actively involved in poultry production. Experience is an important resource.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:56pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

As 'Colby' indicated, additional calcium deposits on eggs are not that uncommon.

The pimples (calcium deposits) are distortions to the shell. Infection is not responsible because pimpling also occurs in disease-free flocks. The defect may be partly hereditary. Age of the hens is also a factor - increasing age, increasing likelihood of calcium deposits.

I agree with 'Colby,' as long as you are feeding a balanced nutritional diet it should pass.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:53pm
rebekka's picture
rebekka says:

hi my name is rebekka my chicks have not hatched and it has been 6 weeks going on 7 why have not hatched and what do i do about it it is raining a lot so could that be the problem about it????? please help me

posted on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 3:09am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is hard to know why your eggs didn't hatch without knowing more about how they were incubated. The incubation period for chickens is 21 days, so it is a pretty good bet that after twice that amount of time (6 weeks = 42 days) they aren't going to hatch and should be thrown out. You could carefully break the eggs open to see what went wrong - to verify whether or they were infertile (any signs of embryo development would indicate fertility) or if there was embryo death.

Since you indicated that it had been raining a lot - that MIGHT be a problem if the eggs are being naturally incubated under a hen with exposure to the elements. If incubated indoors in an incubator it would have no effect. Humidity, however, is important, even in an incubator - so if the correct humidity is not maintained that can also adversefly effect hatchability.

posted on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 4:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Can you eat fertilized eggs? We just got some hens two days ago and they are already laying eggs, I'm not sure if they've been fertilized or not. Can we eat them if they are fertilized?

posted on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 12:30pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There is no health or safety issues with eating fertilized eggs. In fact, some people pay a preimium for fertilized eggs. Some people, however, have an ideological issue with eating fertilized eggs since they 'have the potential to come chicks' if incubated. Of course, if they are not incubated they can not become chicks.

In some countries, especially the Phillipines and Vietnam, it is common to incubated duck eggs (incubation period is 28 days) to 17 days and then they boil and eat the embryos (known as balut).

posted on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 11:00am
Hector's picture
Hector says:

Is it possible and practible to feed hens egg shells insted of oister shell to supliment their diet for calcium. THAQNKS HECTOR

posted on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 4:25pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is a common practice in many backyard flocks to feed egg shells back to the hens. However, it is important to dry the shells completely first - otherwise the hens get a taste of the egg content and may start eating eggs. When I was a kid we use to 'bake' them in the oven and then crumble them up. We then used the crushed shells as a top dressing over the feed.

posted on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 11:02am
Sharen's picture
Sharen says:

Hello, I live on a small farm and have chickens. I gather the eggs for my own use, and a couple of times a year I let the hens hatch a brood. It never fails, if 8 hatch, 5 or 6 of them will be roosters. Is there anything that I can do, food or temperature wise, to insure more hens will be hatched?

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 9:17am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Avian sex determination is considerably different than with mammals. As you know, in mammals it is the heterozygous male (XY) that determines the sex of the offspring and not the homozygous (XX) female. In birds it is the male that is homozgyous (ZZ) and the female that is heterozygous (ZW) - thus it is the female that determines the sex of the offspring.

Researchers have tried several things to influence the sex of eggs, with no luck to date. As an undergraduate student I worked on a research project where I collected eggs at different times of the day and hatched them out - to see if the time of day the egg is laid (which persumably effect the physiological state of the ovary) would effect sex of the offspring. No effect.

The current area of research related to the sex of chicks involves being able to sex the embryo before they hatch - typically around 16 days of incubation. This would be done when the embryos are vaccinated in ovo (ie still in the egg). In the egg industry any male embryos would be destroyed at this time and not allowed to hatched (currently the chicks are sexed at hatch and the males euthanized). A similar system would be possible for broiler chicks, but with a preference for males which grow faster and more efficiently than females. There is an interesting summary of this project available online.

In alligators, the incubation temperature has been shown to affect the sex of the offspring - and this has been studied with poultry. I haven't found any effect with the typical poultry species, but with some wild bird species (especially those that use external heat sources - like a composting pile of leaves - rather than brood their own eggs) temperature does play a role in the sex ratio of the chicks hatched. For example, with the Australian brush-turkeys (Alectura lathami) higher incubation temperatures tend to favor females.

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:03pm
Jason Bloy's picture
Jason Bloy says:

I want to know how to tell if an egg has been fertallized or not with out breaking it?

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 3:57pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There is no way to tell whether or not an egg is fertile or not without breaking it - unless you incubate it a few days and then see if there is fertile development.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:11pm
Kiara Chrisman's picture
Kiara Chrisman says:

I have to tell you that your report was very interesting. It's very unusuall that chickens can still lay eggs even though they're not fertilized. And I also have to say that.....CHICKENS ARE DA BOMB!! Well, second compared to horses, but they're still aesome!

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 11:25am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Hens do not require a rooster to lay eggs - just like woman have their 'monthly visitor' whether they are sexually active or not. Chickens just do it more frequently - once a day or so versus once a month.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:12pm
newatthis's picture
newatthis says:

In order for me to ask a question I need to give you a little background info but I will try to make it as short as I can.
The1st of December someone approached me about taking on 1 Bantam Rooster &14 hens ( 2 Silkies, 4 Frizzles and 8 Bantams) Over my husband Christmas Vacation we built a nice 10'x6' coop with a covered outside pen that is 10' x 26' for them to go out into. We built a wall of 9 nesting boxes and 3 different heights of dowel roosting bars ...especially to accomidate the silkies who had trouble getting up on the original roosting bars.
Well none of them are laying eggs at all. The rooster is doing his job with all of them and I am wondering if it is just that they are getting used to their new home or what?... I am feeding them Nutrena Crumbles and Cracked corn with table scraps and Bread as treats daily. As my name says I am new at this and I need to know what to do to make them lay eggs. The man i got them from said that they are between 12 to 18 months old and the rooster is about 2.... Please help ... the Pen and coop cost us about $500 to build and alot of blue fingers to not have them doing anything at all.... I would also like to know if maybe the size of the nesting boxes are too small or large and would it even matter? They are 15 "wide and about 12" deep... Please offer any advice that you can
I love them but would also love it if they would lay...

posted on Sat, 01/19/2008 - 7:30pm
show-me smitty's picture
show-me smitty says:

Short days with little sunlight in winter may cause some breeds to stop production. Hens depend on sunlight for egg production. Longer days and warmer weather may be your answer.

posted on Sat, 01/19/2008 - 8:14pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

As mentioned earlier - the presence of a rooster does not have anything to do with a hen's ability to lay eggs.

Egg production in chickens is regulated mainly by the number of hours of light per day. With increasing day length they are brought into production and decreasing day length they go out of production. So your lighting program is important.

Second - nutrition is important as well. A layer feed is a complete diet with the right balance of energy, protein and amino acids, vitamins and minerals, etc. By feeding them cracked corn and table scraps (especially bread) you are diluting their nutrition so that it may not be adequate for maximum egg production.


Check out the factsheets related to egg production on the poultryu.com website for some help.

I hope that helps.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:18pm
Louisa's picture
Louisa says:

How does one stop blood spots from forming in a chicken egg? There are no roosters, nests are only 6 inches off ground,very friendly chickens that do not scare easily. Feed is ground oats and barley mixed with 35% laying mash. Also receiving whole oats and barley, oyster shells are always available. Getting 3-4 eggs per dozen with blood spots. Please help!!

posted on Tue, 01/22/2008 - 3:17pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Blood spots are the result of bleeding when the yolk is ovulated in the ovary. There is some genetic connection with blood spots - brown egg layers tend to lay more blood spot eggs than white egg layers.

A shortage of vitamin K, which is important in blood clotting, will increase the number of blood spots. As indicated in response to another question, by mixing other ingredients with a complete feed you are diluting the nutrients. If you continue to dilute the feed, I would suggest at least add vitamins in the water to make sure they are getting enough.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:22pm
gypsy's picture
gypsy says:

I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me. I have 24 eggs in the incubator. Today is day seven. On day 5 I could see one embryo when I candled and then on day six I had another one show up. The rest of the eggs last night seem to be maybe in different stages. Some still look clear just a yolk and some appear to be more solid masses. The eggs are brown and speckly so it is a bit difficult to tell when candled . Could more embryos still appear where I can see them in the following days or are they all bad? Any suggestions? I have one more question. I have an egg incubating that one of my hens laid that is huge! It is twice as large as all my other eggs and my hens are RI reds and lay large eggs anyway. So I am incubating the large egg. It appears it may have two yolks. Could two embryos develop in this egg? How long should I wait not seeing anything in the clear eggs w/just yolk vs the eggs which are growing darker in mass but I can't distinguish an embryo? I appreciate your help. Last year we got our chicks through 4-H program and this year we are incubating. Any help a blessing thanks.

posted on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 11:53am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Assuming the eggs were all placed in the incubator at the same time, if you are not seeing any embryos by day 7-10 the eggs are either infertile or embryo death occurred very early. I'm not sure why the eggs would have different levels of development if they were set at the same time. I'm not sure what the solid mass is - unless you are seeing the yolk.

When candling incubated eggs, be sure not to move them too much (ie don't spin them like you would do when candling table eggs).

Double yolk eggs rarely hatch. That is not to say that they never do since there have been cases of twins. But in most cases there is not enough nutrients and space for two chicks to develop.

Some information on incubation and hatching is also available on poultryu.com. I hope this helps.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:28pm
ashley (16)'s picture
ashley (16) says:

I recently baught two fertilized eggs from the market and they were cool, as soon as I went home I placed them in a bunch of clothes in my dresser droor. When I researched on them the web said to put them in warm water and if they sink the egg has a live chick, but it floated, I don't know if you do this after a certain time of incubation but no air bubbles came up either. So I tried a not fertile egg from the market,bleached an all, well that egg sank, but it wasn't even fertile, so I tried another not fertile egg and that one sank too...so I am very confused and I have the eggs( one chicken and one duck) on a box with covers and two insulator cartons( one on the bottm holding the eggs and one at the top covering them) they are room temp but sometimes seem a little cool, anyway they are under a heater, I check to make sure the heat was not to much and not to little, one of the eggs(duck) had a tiny crack in the bottom, as if there were two egg layors and one small piece of the top layor was take off and a real tinny chip in the second layor, I did the candle test witha flash Ilight and saw health veins and an air pouch at the top, in both but the info I am getting is either telling me their alive or dead, no info is accurate...please help!!!

posted on Sun, 01/27/2008 - 1:15am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The practice of putting eggs in water to see if they float is to determine the freshness of the egg, not whether or not it is fertile.

When an egg is laid it is the same body temperature of a chicken (about 106F) and as soon as it reaches the air it starts to cool. As the egg cools the contents contract and the two shell membranes separate resulting in the formation of an air cell - typically in the large end of the egg. As the egg ages, the air cell increases.

A fresh egg, therefore, has a small air cell and will sink when placed in water. The older the egg the larger the air cell and the more the egg floats. An egg that fully floats is very old.

An old egg is not necessarily a bad egg (unless it is very light - then I would recommend carefully discarding it because it is probably rotten). Nutritionally they are the same as fresh eggs, they just spread out when cracked open so don't make very good fried eggs.

When a fertile eggs is laid it contains an embryo that is 24-26 hours old. Birds have the unique ability to put embryo development on hold until the correct temperature is provided. In the wild, this allows the hen to lay a number of eggs over a period of time and then sit on all of them and have them hatch at the same time. If sub-optimal temperature is provided, however, there will be some embryo development, but death or abnormal development will most likely occur.

As indicated in response to an earlier question, I suggest you check out some of the factsheets related to incubation and hatching of eggs on the poultryu.com website.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:38pm
kk's picture
kk says:

how do i tell if its a fertilized egg or non fertilized

posted on Sun, 01/27/2008 - 7:53pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The only way to tell if an egg is fertilized or not is to either break it open or to incubate it to see if an embryo develops.

posted on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 2:40pm
mae's picture
mae says:

Nutritionally speaking for human consumption...which is better for you? Fertile or non-fertile eggs?

posted on Sun, 02/03/2008 - 10:52pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Nutritionally there are no differences between fertilzed and unfertilized eggs. Some people just get grossed out at the idea of eating fertile eggs while others have religious, spiritual or ethical reasons for not wanting to eat eggs that 'have the potential to become chicks.'

posted on Thu, 02/07/2008 - 2:33pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Some ethnic groups like to eat incubated duck eggs - balut as it is known in the Philippines. Duck eggs are incubated to 18 days of age (incubation period is 28 days so it right before the embryoes develop feathers). The eggs are then boiled and eaten.

posted on Thu, 02/07/2008 - 2:38pm
gypsy's picture
gypsy says:

Dr Jacquie you are such a blessing. Thanks for answering all these questions.

I need an answer asap! My eggs are due to hatch tomorrow. When I set them it was about three in the afternoon. So, they are due to hatch tomorrow. I live in TN where we just ecperienced tornados this week. My power was off about 10 hours. I did not open the incubator but once to put a towel over the eggs in an effort to keep them warm. My question is this. Have they died? I know the temperature was low and probably for some hours. I cannot hear them peeping yet. Should I be able to hear them by now? There is no movement of the eggs just from observing them through the window. What do you think I can expect? They were doing fine until the power issue. Any suggestions or advice? I had other eggs at different stages of incubation as well, should I expect they have died from the power loss? Any help so much appreciated.
From earlier question of mine you answered:
By the way, I culled the large egg and in fact it was double yoked with no development!
Thanks for you help! I feel like a woman wanting to have children taking care of her eggs:) LOL Thanks!

posted on Thu, 02/07/2008 - 5:40pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Embryoes/Chicks are very resilient so they could still hatch - I would remove the towel though so that they can breath.

Although the incubation period is 21 days, it is not exactly 21 days to the hour - there is some variability in hatching time. Typically chicks hatch over a 24-36 hour period.

I have some 'amusing' stories in this area.

- One of the poultry technician's here at the U drove to a turkey hatchery to pick up the unhatched eggs. The objective was to break open the eggs to analyze why the eggs didn't hatch (infertility, mortality death, etc.). When she got to the poultry barn a couple of hours later she had 7 hatched turkeys (called poults) in the groups.

- This story was one I was told about, but don't have first hand knowledge: According to the past Head of the Minnesota Dept of AG food inspection group, there was a person who was selling balut eggs. Balut eggs are something I have mentioned in the past - typically duck eggs are hatched to 18 days (of their 28 day incubation period) and then boiled and cooked. The MN farm, however, decided to make balut eggs with chicken eggs but he forgot to adjust the incubation period - ie he incubated the eggs to 18 days. They were taken to a store where they were sold - but the store didn't clearly identified the balut eggs. Someone purchased the balut eggs thinking they were regular eggs. She put them in the fridge and when she got up in the morning there were a couple of chicks in fridge. If this story is true, it is the extreme example of how resilient chicks are.

posted on Fri, 02/08/2008 - 10:55am
gypsy's picture
gypsy says:

Dr Jacquie

I need help right now! My chicks are pipping! I am so excited after all we have been through trying to take care of these eggs. I need to know something right away!

On of the eggs is pipping correctly where we can see it in the window. The other egg I did not think was pipping but on closer look there is a bit of shell right along it so it is pipping either on the side down or on the side where it is not turned up to the window. There is water in trough of the incubator etc. Should I turn the egg where it is pipping up so as I can see it through the window? I would so appreciate an answer like as soon as possible. I got up this morning and was so surprised to see the pipping. I am just thrilled but really want to know what to do about this one as I don't want it to drown.
thank you thank you thank you

posted on Fri, 02/08/2008 - 8:02am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Glad to hear that the chicks are hatching. Chicks don't really care which way the egg is placed and will still hatch. If you want to turn it so you can watch, go ahead, but it would be for your benefit not the chicks. As long as the egg is not in the water the chick shouldn't drown.

Chicks should pip in the large end of the egg. The majority of chicks that pip in other locations, especially the small end, do not hatch. So the part of the egg is the most important consideration.

posted on Fri, 02/08/2008 - 10:59am
gypsy's picture
gypsy says:

Thanks Dr Jacquie for the information. One chick has successfully hatched and the other I asked you about is chirping but still has not cracked the shell anymore than the little pip hole from this morning. Thanks for all your help!

posted on Fri, 02/08/2008 - 7:02pm
kiki's picture
kiki says:

Hello Dr. Jacquie- I live in Alaska, and am keeping 6 Rhode Island Reds, and 6 Auracanas. They have been laying very well, ( they started laying in October), and up to about a week ago, I was getting 10-12 eggs/day, even though they all are missing feathers on their backs. I am feeding a laying mash with a corn/barley scratch, and they have heated water for our cold winter. There is a light in the laying house (8x8) and it is insulated well. (they do have an outdoor run, they go out when the days are warmer). I don't know why they are missing feathers, except maybe the coop is too crowded. I haven't seen any mites. My question is regarding the bird I found last week with a VERY blody cloaca. The other birds of course were pecking her badly, eating the blood, and I had to kill her to prevent more suffering. I feel bad about this. Today I noticed another hen with a bloody cloaca. I only got 4 eggs yesterday, and 4 so far today. I usually collect eggs twice/day. Thanks in advance for your insight.

posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 4:13pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Sounds like you have a cannibalism problem. Cannibalsim has a number of different cause including a nutrient deficiency. It may also that one or more of the hens has picked up the habit and passed it on. This habit can develop if the other hens are not laying eggs in a dark nest. Chickens will peck at anything shiny. When a chicken lays an egg the cloaca turns out a bit and is shiny - if the other hens see it they will peck at it and cause damage. I have seen cases where the hens have literally eaten hens from the inside out but pulling organs out through the cloaca.

Rhode Island Reds and Araucanas** don't lay as much and as long as leghorns or sex-link crosses so it may be that they have just finished their laying cycle and have started molting. You indicated there is a light in the chicken house - are then hens on a lighting schedule?

**Just want to check to see if you have Araucanas - there aren't many in North America. Many people think they have Araucana chickens (and the hatchery sells them as that) but they actually have Ameracuanas. An Araucana chicken has no tail (rumpless) and feathers that protrude from the side of the face called tuffs. Ameraucans have a tail and instead of tuffs have muffs and beards. Because the egg color in Araucanas is a dominant characteristic, genetically speaking, the cross (ie the Ameraucana) also lay colored eggs.

posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 6:44pm
kiki's picture
kiki says:

Thanks so much for your reply. Sounds like I do indeed have Ameraucanas. They definitely have tails and muffs on their faces. The light schedule isn't really a schedule, just a low-wattage red bulb with a reflector hood. The birds pecked and broke every other light I put in the coop. They seem to tolerate this one. It is on all the time. Should I expect this cannibalism behaviour to continue, and dispatch all the hens and start over? I have kept chickens for several years, and this is the first time the birds have done this. Maybe I should stick with one breed... Someone here told me Araucanas/Ameraucanas are an aggressive bird anyway. (I haven't seen specific aggression- and I haven't actually seen the hens peck each other. Maybe it happens during the nght??) As far as the laying cycle goes, I was under the impression that they usually go into molt around 18months. They won't be a year old until mid-May. This is a great website, I appreciate your time and info.

posted on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 2:17pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

The avian reproductive cycle responds to day length (the number of hours of light per day). The light has to be in the right wavelength since they perceive light through their skulls rather than their eyes. Since long wavelengths of light (towards red end of the spectrum) penetrate the skin and skull more efficiently than short wavelengths using red light should be okay, but they are getting too many hours of light per day to maintain a typical laying cycle. 14-16 hours of light per day is required.

Red light has been used to reduce cannibalism and feather picking - not sure why it is not working for you.

I haven't found Ameraucanas to be aggressive - in some mixed flocks they appear to be the friendliest.

Some have had good results by feeding some greens to the chickens to reduce feather pecking. You could try that.

Age for molt depends on the breed and lighting cycle as well as the nutriiton.

Some factsheets that you might find helpful:

posted on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 4:59pm
kiki's picture
kiki says:

Thanks very much for the additional factsheets. I'll look into them. As far as the chickens seeming to have stopped laying, today I figured out that they are also eating the eggs. There were 6 eggs today, and most of them were covered with the yolks of broken eggs. These chickens do have a supply of crushed oyster shells, so I'm thinking they have developed this bad habit over recent time, and now are eating it for the taste. I'm frustrated.... So, I will reduce the amount of time the light is on, feed more green veggies than I have been (they get all the leftovers from our grocery store produce aisle), and hope for the best. Like I mentioned before, about the Ameraucanas being aggressive, I haven't noticed it either. They are very docile, and feed from my hand. Thanks for all your input, I will continue to research the problems....

posted on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 9:33pm
Hector's picture
Hector says:

helloagain:: This is kind of a dumb question on this site but it does concern eggs .Our comunity has acomunity easter egg hunt and most of the coloredeggs are disposed in the gargage cans if they dont have a winning prisze attached to it.. Are these eggs suitable to be composted. Could you answer or refer me to the proper site to get one. THANKS HECTOR

posted on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 7:24pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

You can compost almost anything biological - I would have thought it was okay to compost eggs but looking on the internet some recommend whole eggs NOt be composted though the shells are okay (egg shells are high in calcium and good for the soil).

According to the eco-cycle website

"What shouldn't go in compost? Bones, meat, eggs (egg shells are okay), cheese, and other dairy products or oils should be thrown in the garbage. Excrement from dogs and cats should also be kept out."

The eggshells should be crushed to help with breakdown.

I have no idea why eco-cycle does not recommend composting whole eggs but have posed the question to our composting specialist here at the U and will get back to you when he answers (if he knows). According to some on the 'Garden in Harmony Message Forum" some have composted whole raw eggs with no problem.

posted on Thu, 02/14/2008 - 2:09pm
HECTOR's picture
HECTOR says:

Hello Dr Jacobs: Concerning composting collored easter eggs I found in a book titled wormes eat my garbage by Mary Appelhof that egg shells and develed eggs were ok to compost. This tells me that if I smashrd and crushed the easter eggs it would be ok. Ask your Utah professor if this would work ok. THANKS HECTOR

posted on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 9:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Thanks for the info. I'm still waiting to hear back from the professor here at the University of Minnesota (not Utah) for his opinion. I personally don't think there would be any problem - let us know how it goes this Easter.

posted on Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

is it possible to detect which chicken eggs are fertilized and which aren't? the birds know which are and which aren't, yet the eggs both look, feel, and weigh alike. is it possible that maybe the fertilized egg is slightly warmer?

posted on Mon, 02/18/2008 - 7:38pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There is no way to tell if an egg is fertilized or not without breaking it open or incubating it to see if an embryo develops. Hens will sit on infertile eggs so they don't have much more insight than we do - though if no embryo develops they are able to detect that.

posted on Tue, 02/19/2008 - 12:23pm
smith's picture
smith says:

I have three bantam seabrights and two buff orpingtons is it safe to put them in the same pen. two hen brights 1 rooster bright one rooster buff and one hen buff

posted on Mon, 02/25/2008 - 11:07pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It can be safe - depending on the behavior of the chickens themselves. There will probably be some initial fighting ask the establish a pecking order (and it is not necessarily the largest that is the top of the pecking order) - so I would keep an eye on the initially. As long as the roosters don't keep fighting, they should be okay. The roosters will go for all hens - so watch out for the buff rooster mating with the sebright hens and make sure they cause injury (as I'm sure you've noticed, the male needs to mount the female in order for mating to occur).

So in short - because the difference in size you need to keep an eye on things initially but it can work out ok.

posted on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 1:56pm
The Duck Man's picture
The Duck Man says:

I live in MN. I am wondering how i can get my ducks to start laying eggs? They are in a barn stall sheltered from the weather. there are 11 ducks in one stall both male and female. I want to start incubating some eggs in the next couple of weeks. What can I do?

posted on Fri, 02/29/2008 - 5:39pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I have heard from many waterfowl producers in MN that they have been having trouble getting their ducks to lay eggs - and to have good hatchability. No one has been able to identify what the problem is - it COULD be a combination of factors including lighting program, weather and nutrition.

The main problem I have seen is a lighting program. Ducks are a temperate zone breeder which means they come into lay (or for males, sexually mature) with increasing number of hours of light per day. This almost always includes use of supplemental light - you want to increase it 15 minutes 2X per week till you obtain ~14 hours of light per day. You then must maintain this amount of light since decreasing day length will put them out of producton.

Weather influence - some believe that birds have an instinct to predict the weather. If you think about it, with a 28 day incubation period, if they started sitting on eggs now they would have ducklings hatch at the end of March, which could still be very cold. I don't know how much truth there is to that believe (it has never been proven) but it makes sense.

posted on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 11:46am
The Duck Man's picture
The Duck Man says:

Hi,
I live in MN and I want start incubating eggs in a few weeks but my ducks arent laying eggs. I have 5 drakes and 6 hens all together in one barn stall. They are of 6 different breeds. I will separate them to breed the way i want them to but now they arent laying eggs. What can I do? I wrote last summer about my 2 ducks sharing a nest, and I incubated those eggs and i had 6 of 9 hatch. I have another Question. Last summer I incubated 3 sets of eggs. I had eggs that were a mix between a mallard and a rouen and the embros made it full term but then died 1 or 2 days before hatching, sometimes withthe yoke inside of the body. One hatched that was crippled(its legs were locked up at the joints and he couldnt walk, his head was misshaped also) Why did these things happen?

posted on Fri, 02/29/2008 - 5:58pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

As indicated in an earlier email, duck producers around the state have been having problems with hatchability - with the problem yet unresolved. Inbreeding can be a problem, and could explain on some farms - but I don't know about your situation.

There are several things that could adversely effect hatchability. I suggest you check out COMMON INCUBATION PROBLEMS: CAUSES AND REMEDIES. It is primarily for chickens but the same principles hold for waterfowl. The booklet Raising Waterfowl has a good section on incubation of waterfowl eggs, and the importance of moisture levels in the incubator.

posted on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 11:55am
Terry's picture
Terry says:

How can you tell the difference between a rooster or a hen when the chicks are first hatched. I think it has something to do with the lengths of the feathers on the tip of it's wings or something like that, but I'm just not sure which one is which.

posted on Thu, 03/13/2008 - 4:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is very difficult to tell the difference between the pullets and cockerels when first hatched. Vent sexing is the most common method, but you have to be trained. Best way is to wait till they are older and some of the secondary sex characteristics (feather shape, comb and wattle size, etc.)

You made reference to the length of the feathers - this is only when the slow feathering trait, which is on the Z chromosome, is used in a specific sex-linked cross (males are ZZ and females are ZW). The commercial sex-linked cross is a Rapid feathering male (kk) with a Slow feathering female (K--) and the result is in slow feather male and rapid feathering female offspring. This can only be used for first day or two - after that it doesn't work.

There are other sex linked crosses used, especially in the egg industry so that they can easily sort out the females from the males.

posted on Mon, 03/17/2008 - 9:38am
Jack's picture
Jack says:

Do male geese have to mate every time to fertilize an egg or just once foor the fertilezs the whole clutch. In other words is the sperm somewhere in the goose and then any egg can be fertilized until sperm is used up.

posted on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 2:50am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Birds, including all species of poultry, do not have to mate for every egg to be fertilized. One mating will last several days, but percent fertile eggs decreases after 4-5 days. I recommen having them mate at least twice a week if you are hoping to collect eggs for incubating.

Ther are 'sperm tubules' in the oviduct of birds (where the eggs are assembled) located at the shell gland / Vagina junction. There is also some storage in the Infundibulum which is the start of the oviduct and where fertilization takes place (sperm have to make their way up the oviduct for fertilization to take place, but they can spend some time in the tubules.

posted on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 10:34am
Lamer's picture
Lamer says:

you descibe very well about the chicken and the egg....haha^^

posted on Sat, 03/22/2008 - 1:59am
Anonymous55's picture
Anonymous55 says:

umm.. i saw that you guys were talking about putting eggs in refrigerators and if they would hatch, and i thought that one of you may know the answer to this:

i have a rooster and a hen in my backyard in a henhouse (sort of) and this winter i went ot feed them etc. and i saw that there was an egg and ever since i have seen like 5 or 6 eggs. I assume since theres a rooster and a hen that it would be fertalized and i would get baby chicks, but i do live in CT and this winter it was preety cold, so i was wondering if there was any possibility that the eggs would hatch, i mean i assume that the hen sat on them all winter long..>????

posted on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 12:18am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

In order for eggs to hatch they have to be incubated. That is not the same as just having the hen sit on them. Hormonal changes are associated with a hen becoming broody. These same hormones 'turn on' the brood patch which is a special part of the skin of the belly of chickens that looses its feathers (or they are pulled out by the hen) and has increased blood flow to increase skin temperature. It is this area of the hen that is used to incubate the egg.

As long as the hen is broody, and the eggs didn't freeze, they should be able to hatch. But if the hen has been sitting on the same eggs all winter it is unlikely - the incubation time is 21 days.

Not all chicken breeds will go broody - some have a higher tendency than others.

posted on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 10:39am
hector's picture
hector says:

HI: AT what age do pullets start to lay eggs? THANKS HECTOR

posted on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 8:47am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Depends on the breed - some breeds, especially those usually kept for egg production, may start laying early than other breeds. Around 20 weeks is a good average.

BUT they typically need to be light stimulated before they start laying. Chickens are long day breeders, which means they come into production as days are getting larger. They go out of lay as the days get shorter. You can manipulate the amount of light they receive each day by adding artificial light to supplement day light.

posted on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 10:42am
Lucy's picture
Lucy says:

A hen adopted us as a pet and now we found a nest with 12 eggs in it. We don't know how long they've been there. Are they safe to eat? There is no rooster anywhere near that we know of since we live in the city.

posted on Wed, 03/26/2008 - 7:09pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is hard to know without more particulars - especially how clean the eggs were and where they were found (and temperature of the area). It is most likely they are safe, although they will most likely be of poor quality because of the age. To tell the freshness of the eggs you can either candle them and look for the air cell size, or you can put them in water and if they float they are very old. The freshest will sit flat on the bottom of the water container. As egg age they will stand up and start to float.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 2:29pm
Sandy's picture
Sandy says:

Can a rooster just be too big for a hen? We were given a pair of Light Brahmas by a neighbor and the roo is really huge. He was so rough and jumped her so frequently that we separated them due to all the missing feathers and redness on her back. We have since bought 4 more hens ( 2 RR & 2 Buff Orp) We are just unsure whether to allow him back in with them in fear he will rough them up too. We really wanted to raise some chicks this year. She quit laying btw from all the stress of him I suppose. She is healing nicely though. Should we trade him off or let him in or do we still need more hens in ratio to him? Please help me with a suggestion.

Thanks
Sandy in GA

posted on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 3:47pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Size differences in rooster and hen can be a problem, especially when the differences are extreme. When the rooster if small, effective mating is difficult. When the rooster is larger you will get the problems you have encountered. In addition, some roosters are more aggressive than others. I would suggest a new rooster. One rooster can handle 5-6 hens.

posted on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 10:49am
Sandy's picture
Sandy says:

My red hen has decided to nest this time, she is on at least 6 eggs, 4 are not hers. She has been on them for 2 days straight without leaving. Do they know whether there eggs are fertile. If she moves can I mark the older eggs and bring in the new eggs? Or willshe let the other hens lay them in there again? Lot of questions right? We were gathering eggs for eating never thought about them nesting cause my white hen has never set on the eggs before...........Yes I have roosters and I know only one can mate right now because the other one had an injured leg for several months now. I am not sure he is able to mate as yet. Love chick will mate with them but I am not sure that his beak the way it is he can get a hold on them.

posted on Tue, 04/01/2008 - 10:36am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

If the other hens keep laying in the same nest that could become a problem - if she is truely broody she will continue to sit on any eggs that get laid there and the differences in ages will result in many embryos that will not survivie once she leaves the nest with the first set of chicks that hatch. You could try removing the chicks as they hatch in the hope she will contine to hatch all the eggs, but then you have to take care of the hens rather than her.

"Do they know whether their eggs are fertile?" - No, they can't tell

"If she moves can I mark the older eggs and bring in the new eggs?" - You could, but daily disturbance of the hen MAY cause her to abandon the nest. I would prefer a separate nest for the other hens and encourage them to use that one instead of laying when in the same nest as the broody hen.

posted on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 10:55am
Caylee-jo's picture
Caylee-jo says:

First off I love this web site. I have had so many questions answered just by reading ya'lls comments. My question is this. I have 2 Hens. A Rhode Island Red and an Old English Blue Bantam. While having 3 roosters. Yesterday my husband and I went to their litte "house" and we saw nothing in the roosting boxes, but Lucy "Bantam" was nesting in her nesting box, got up and left. Now then today my husband and I went out and we found two eggs. both were a light brown color. Now I was told that Lucy could lay an egg every hour, and her egss would be white. On the other hand Red " RI Red" isn't doing any thing. I can not tell if the roosters have mated, since neither are missinf ay feathers. So I guess my question is, Why isn't Lucy laying in her nesting box to keep her eggs warm? My husband and I cracked the eggs open and we only saw a clear spot in the middle of the yolk. Were the eggs fertile?

posted on Tue, 04/01/2008 - 9:57pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It takes 24-26 hours to create an egg, and birds only have one oviduct for that function. so a hen can NOT lay more than 1 egg per day.

Rhode Island Reds - lay brown eggs. You can typically tell what color a hen from a particular breed will lay by their ear lobe color. Although there are some exceptions, for most, breeds with red earlobes lay brown eggs and breeds with white earlobes lay white eggs.

Old English Games, regardless of variety, lay brown eggs.

Hens have to have hormonal changes to become broody so that they will sit on the nest. They don't just start sitting on eggs because they are laying.

When you break open eggs - infertile eggs have a white spot (germinal disc). If it looks like a donut (white ring with clear area in the middle) it is fertile. See the 4-H Embryology website.

posted on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:06am
LB's picture
LB says:

Today, I just started incubating two chicken eggs. In 24 hours, I will begin candling them to see if they are fertile. If they are not fertile, are they safe to refrigerate and eat?

posted on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:47am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

24 hours is really not a good time period to be able to tell if they are fertile or not, since a 24-hour embryo is very small. Typically a minimum of 2-3 days are needed, assuming the eggs are white. It is even harder to candle brown eggs to detect an embryo.
Assuming the eggs were clean prior to incubating, they should be safe after only 24hrs in the incubator - but the quality of the eggs will be seriously affected (the high temperature increases the 'aging' of the eggs). Personally, I wouldn't it them but that is just me.

posted on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 1:38pm
Lois Hatfield's picture
Lois Hatfield says:

I cracked open an egg this week and an object was in the shell that I've never seen before. It almost looks like a piece of fat but not quite. It's about 1/2 inch wide and 1inch long yellow in color and flat. It looks like it is a thin piece of paper folded up as I can see a circle like a piece of paper was cut in the round. Also there was another tiny piece about the size of a pin head in the shell. My friend said it looks like an egg noodle. Can you help me to find out what this might be? Just curious as to what it is. The egg in the shell was in perfect condition.

posted on Fri, 04/11/2008 - 11:02am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Without seeing the material it is hard to be sure, but I suspect what you have is a meat spot. This happens sometimes - as the egg is passing down the oviduct as the egg is being assembled a portion of the oviduct wall is sloughed off and occurs in the egg. If it is a meat spot, it is not a food safety problem - just looks horrible and turns consumers off eggs. These, and blood spots, are usually candled out in commercial operation so you shouldn't get any in commercial eggs.

I have heard of hens having a bad roundworm infestation - so bad that worms have been deposited into the eggs. It doesn't sound like that is what you have though.

posted on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 3:05pm
David P.'s picture
David P. says:

My incubator has chicken and duck eggs togeather in it. Is that good, also that the eggs were put in like a month ago and when we candle them they look fine. If we put them in the water to check to see if they are moving they don't move. Please tell me if we are doing something wrong.
Thank You,
David

posted on Fri, 04/25/2008 - 10:14pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is typically not a good idea to incubate chicken/turkey eggs with waterfowl eggs since waterfowl require a higher moisture content at hatch. That is not to say that it won't work at all - you should get some eggs hatch.

The incubation period for chickens is 21 days - if the eggs have been in their a month and not hatched, they most likely won't.
The incubation period of ducks is 28 days (unless they are Muscovy ducks, then it is 35 days).

Candling should be a good indicator of how things are going - so not sure what you mean by 'they look fine'. Not a good idea to put them in water - you will drown the chicks.

posted on Sun, 04/27/2008 - 3:41pm
firestar2124's picture
firestar2124 says:

A couple of posts ago you mentioned chickens getting roundworms. How do you test for this, or know that they have them, and if so...how do you treat for them? We also have dogs, cats and goats in the area, but all the mammals are vaccinated and dewormed regularly. Thank you!

posted on Sat, 04/26/2008 - 3:47pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

There really isn't a test for round worms, other than inspecting the fecal material. The only definitely method is necropsy.

Having said that - birds that look unthrifty MAY have roundworm infestations - but that is the symptom for many disease conditions. It is a good idea to inspect the fecal matter of any birds that appear unthrifty.

There are deworming medications you can purchase - check with the place you get your feed to see what they have available. Make sure you read the label carefully since the medication can be deposited in eggs so there may be restrictions on use in laying hens or on the consumption of eggs from hens that have been treated.

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 11:54am
msgenie516's picture
msgenie516 says:

Hi,

I am a new owner of 16 chickens (mostly laying hens, but some that are too young). I have no roosters. I was wondering what the best feed is for them. I am currently feeding them laying pellets and some oyster shell and it seems fine but I was wondering if I was missing something. A friend of mine has chickens and the yolks of his eggs are much deeper yellow than mine. Does the color matter and what might he be feeding them that is making the yolks so yellow?

Thanks for your help! Genie

posted on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 7:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

You are feeding what the hens need - laying pellets with some oyster shell in case they need it (birds can have a 'calcium appetite' so will eat the oyster shell if they need it, though the diet should meet the calcium requirement of the majority of the hens).

Egg yolk color doesn't effect nutritional value of the egg, but does effect customer appeal. It can be achieved by increased forage consumption. That is why most chickens on pasture have deeper yellow yolks than those raised in confinement. You can also add pigment to the diet to result in the deeper yolk color, but I don't know of anyone that sells it in the small quantities that you would require.

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 11:50am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Some online information that might be useful:

Intestinal parasites in backyard chicken flocks from the University of Florida

Nematode parasites of poultry (and where to find them) also from the University of Florida

Treatment of intestinal worms in broiler breeders an article from the company Aviagen.

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 3:13pm
JAYNE C's picture
JAYNE C says:

We have grown red laying hens, about a year old. Occasionally, we will find a chicken all of a sudden dead in the coop. We only started with 8 layers, and are curious and upset to be losing these good layers. Any ideas about what could be happening? We've lost 3 in about 3 months time. Thanks

posted on Sat, 05/10/2008 - 8:22am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Unexpected deaths do happen - and is a symptom of a number of health conditions, none of which can be diagnosed with out doing a necropsy of the dead birds. 1 hen a month is definitely higher than 'normal' mortality (1% is more normal, not the 12.5% you are experiencing). Without more a more detailed background on the birds (source, nutrition, housing, management, etc) and a necropsy it is impossible to give a diagnosis.

posted on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 10:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I bought 4 hens at an auction about 4 weeks ago, while there one of them laid an egg in the cage, but when I got them home they haven't laid any eggs since. How long will it take for them to start laying again?

posted on Mon, 05/12/2008 - 8:24am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It depends on the chickens themselves as well as a number of different factors - what type are they, how old are they, what were they getting fed before you bought them, what are they getting fed now, how far were they transported (for source to auction and from auction to home), how are they housed especially with regards to exposure to hours of light, etc.

posted on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 10:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have heard that when incubating eggs, at the 18th day you're supposed to take them out of the incubator, is this true or should I just leave them in there until they hatch? One more question, if I take th egg shells and cook them on the stove, then crush them up and feed them to my chickens will it make there egg shells harder?

posted on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:38pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

When incubating chicken eggs, which have a 21 day incubation period, eggs are typically transferred from the incubator to the hatcher at 18 days of age. The incubator usually has racks that are used and tilted on a 45 degree angle and rotated 180 degrees every hour. This is done to prevent the developing embryo from becoming stuck to the inside of the shell which will result in the death of abnormal development of hte embryo.The eggs no longer need to be turned after 18 days of age and a transferred to a flat bottomed tray so they can hatch without falling through as they would in the rack.

posted on Wed, 05/14/2008 - 9:37pm
Linda West's picture
Linda West says:

I have a wonderful red aurucuna, Helen, about six or seven years old (I inherited her and her friend Doris, "the boss," a black sex link hen). Till I met these "girls" about three years ago, I knew nothing about chickens. Helen has a chipped beak. Probably from trying to get a bug or fly through the 1/4" grid wire we've put over, under, around their yard. Will it heal? A small dot of crazy glue, away from her nostrils? I love her dearly, and I'm worried. Please advise.

posted on Fri, 05/16/2008 - 4:06pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

It is unlikely that cracks in a beak will heal. If they are not having problems eating I wouldn't worry about it. If it is severe you could use crazy glue - but you have to be very careful that the hens don't consume it.

posted on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 1:58pm
lizzy's picture
lizzy says:

Hi,
I'm Lizzy I'm a 11 year old girl who loves chickens.

I own two hens one is a Plymouth Barred Rock she is my little baby girl she is 11 months old her name is Blacky. And Cutie is my 7 year old best egg layer out of the two but now Blacky seems to be the best.

My roosters are mating with Cutie and she has layed one egg and Blacky has started a clutch but i don't know if my roosters are mating with her.

Can you tell me how to tell if there fertle or not for both my hens?

hope you can get back to me soon,

Lizzy.

P.S. This is my website:http://thespezowkaspot.blogspot.com/

please typ it in.

posted on Mon, 05/26/2008 - 9:52am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

You can not tell if an egg is fertile without breaking it open or incubating it. You can candle white shelled eggs as early ad 3 days and see an embryo. Brown colored eggs it is harder to see the young embryos and a week is probably needed to be sure.

If you break them open you can tell if an egg is fertile or not by looking at the yolk. An infertile yolk has a small white spot. In a fertile egg this spot looks like a small donut since it has a clear inner area where the microscopic embryo is located (an embryo is about 20 hours old by the time an egg is laid).

You can see photos of fertile and infertile eggs on the Embryology in the classroom webiste, specifically http://4hembryology.psu.edu/New%20site/fertilen.html.

posted on Wed, 05/28/2008 - 11:37am
Chicken face's picture
Chicken face says:

We have a broody chicken. She has made herself a nest in our garage underneath some shelves. She has a very good temperament and is not bothered with the presence of humans. She had been sitting on some eggs for a week and a bit when we eventually found her. We don't have a rooster so the eggs she was sitting on weren't really going to do much! We removed eggs from around her 10 in total! and purchased some fertile eggs - 12. we managed to slip six or so eggs from underneath her and replace them with the 12 fertile ones.
today I removed a further 6 of the original eggs that she laid!
The eggs that we removed seem to rattle can anyone tell me why this might be?
I am also worried that she isn't eating / drinking enough but i don't really want to cause her any further disturbance. Any tips on how to make her more comfortable or make things easier for her would be great!

posted on Tue, 05/27/2008 - 9:27am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Broody hens will reduce their food and water intake as a hormone response. She will eat a bit, but not as much as before she went broody.

The rattling eggs? All I can think is that the egg is rotten, though I wouldn't expect that to happen in a week or two. Incubating infertile eggs for the full 21 days doesn't typically go rotten though the yolk and albumen do break down and become more watery (and I wouldn't want to eat it). I've never had any rattle.

posted on Wed, 05/28/2008 - 11:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have some chickens that have what looks like a runny nose, it has been like this for a couple of days, a vet told me that if it doesnt clear up in a few days there is a shot i could give them that would clear it up. Is there any thing I could do to try to help them without having to give them a shot or would that be the best thing to do?

posted on Wed, 05/28/2008 - 9:47pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Could be a respiratory infection - some added vitamins in the water will help improve their immunity, but you might need to give some antibiotics, which is probably what the vet was referring to. There are antibiotics you can put in the water rather than injecting.

Respiratory infections are usuallly viral in origin so the antibiotics (which work mainly against bacteria) are more to prevent any other infections while the chicken tries to fight off the virus.

posted on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 6:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was told to get accidified copper sulfate which is an antibiotic and it can be added to the water. I have to different places in my pasture where I keep my different chickens should I put it in both of the waterers?

posted on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 10:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

If you are to treat all the birds in your flock and they are split into two pastures, you will need to add water to all the sources they will be drinking from. Curiosity - what is the supplement being used to treat?

posted on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 1:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It says its used to treat blackhead disease which is caused by a protozoan, symptoms include increased thirst, decreased appetite, drowsiness, weakness, yellowish-brown, watery, or foamy droppings.
Ho wlong should I put it in there water?

posted on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:00am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

I would follow the directions on the label - I assume it is for at least a few days.

If you do have blackhead, you should consider moving pastures - the protozoan has earthworms and snails as secondary hosts so the birds will be re-infected if on the same pasture.

Are they turkeys? It is unusual for chickens to get blackhead - they carry it but don't usually get sick. It is why you shouldn't run chickens and turkeys together on the same pasture - or to pasture turkeys on lands occupied by chickens within the last three years.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 9:36am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

HI i am wondering how exactly chicken eggs are formed (non fertile). Also are there such things as round eggs?

posted on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:58am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Minnesota - Poultry specialist

Avian eggs (regardless of the species) are formed in what is called the OVIDUCT. The female genetic material is in the ova in the ovary and yolk is added to it. When the developing OVA is ready, it is OVULATED and picked up by the INFUNDIBULUM. If the egg is going to be fertilized, this is where it will occur. The yolk then travels down the rest of the oviduct where the albumen (egg white), shell membranes and finally the shell are added. The whole travel time is usually 24-26 hours.

Most eggs are 'egg-shaped' but you do occassionally get some weird shapes - including round. I have found eggs that look more like minature footballs - with points on both ends. I have also seen eggs that look like pairs. As a percent of total eggs laid the number is small, but they do happen.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 9:48am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I would like to get some poultry id leg bands for my chickens. But im not sure what size I need, I have rhode island reds, black giants, cresteds and a couple bannys.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 11:47pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The bantam chickens will probably require a smaller band than those required for the Black giants and Rhode Island Reds. You don't need the largest size though, since they would be more for geese.

posted on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 9:00am
Frenchie's picture
Frenchie says:

Hello. I have a question regarding a broody hen. She is one of two hens who survived a brutal dog attack about 6 months ago, 10 others perished. Hence we are very attached to her and her pal. About 4 days ago she started incubating a few unfertile eggs. Feeling sorry for her and keen to boost our numbers once again, I've brought home a cock and also three point of lay hens. My question is how long it will be before the cock (who is around 8 months old) will cause the hens to lay fertile eggs, given that our broody girl has stopped laying but her chum who survived the attack is continuing to lay. And is it likely our girl will remain broody for long enough to incubate and hatch any fertile eggs? Thanks for your time and this excellent and informative site.

posted on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 12:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Chickens, depending on the breed, reach sexual maturity around 5 months of age, so your 8 month old male should be fertile already. Once mating has begun, I would wait at least 3-4 days to make sure the eggs are fertile before setting, though it should only take till the next egg is started (takes 24-26 hours to 'create' an egg).

How long a hen will remain broody is very hen-specific. Assuming you get fertile eggs under her before she stops being broody, the developing embryos MAY stimulate her to stay till they hatch. There is research to show that there is some form of communication between eggs, and between eggs and hen, during embryo development.

posted on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 9:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi,
I was wondering if there was any chance that a chick would hatch from a supermarket egg, if so, how?

posted on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 9:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Most supermarket eggs are infertile since they are produced by hens without a rooster around - and these would never be able to hatch. You might get a fertile egg if you purchase free range eggs from a farm that keeps roosters around to keep the hens close to home, but it is unlikely to hatch if incubated.

There was a case in Minnesota once where a woman purchased improperly produced balut eggs instead of regular eggs. Balut is a specialty item in which eggs, typically duck eggs, are incubated to just before the feathers are formed and then boiled and eaten. When ducks are used, they are usually incubated to 18 days (incubation period of 28 days). It is possible to produce balut with chicken eggs but the incubation period must be adjusted since their total incubation time is only 21 days. The improperly produced balut eggs would chicken eggs incubated too long - and the chicks actually managed to hatch in the fridge of the woman who purchased them. Made the news.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 7:47am
Matt's picture
Matt says:

How can you be sure that a broody hen is sitting on fertalized eggs?

I heard that after 12 days of her sitting you get the eggs, put them (the eggs) in a bucket of warm water and the ones that float are fertalized, the sunk ones not.

Personaly I have never tried it, but if you guys can confirm it, or have any other ideas id appreciate it!!!!

PLZ dont tell me I just have to wait- im to excited!!!!

posted on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 3:02am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I would NOT recommend putting them in water - the shell is porous and you could drown the chick if it is there.

The best way is to candle the eggs - 3-4 days minimum for white shelled eggs and 5-6 days for brown eggs since they are harder to see through.

Shine a light, as from a flashlight, through the egg (while in a dark room so you can see the insides). If there is an embryo there you should be able to see it. If there is a ring of blood around the air cell there was an embryo and it lived long enough to form blood cells but then it died. If it is clear it either is infertile or the embryo died very young.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 7:56am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The sink or float test is good to tell which are the oldest eggs in the fridge and which are the freshest.

When an egg is first laid it is close to the body temperature of the chicken (about 105F) and it rapidly starts to cool. As it cools the contents contract and the two shell membranes separate, typically at the large end, to form the air cell. As the egg ages, the air cell gets larger - so small air cell = fresh egg and large air cell = old egg.

If you put eggs in water, the eggs with small air cells will sink to the bottom. Slightly older eggs will begin to stand on end (with large end up) and even older eggs will start to float up. The very oldest eggs will float at the surface.

Whether an egg will sink or float, therefore, is dependent on the age of the egg and not whether the egg is fertile or not.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 8:03am
Mayank Singh Parmar's picture

This article was really valuable. I usually argue with my friends about whether we are possibly eating unborn chickens if we are eggitarian.

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 6:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I recently bought 6 game hens. Five of them have 1 wing cut the other has both wings cut. It there a certain reason why someone would do this, and why?

posted on Sun, 06/29/2008 - 10:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

What do you mean by having cut wings? I assume you mean cut the flight feathers - usually it is done to one wing only. This is used to prevent flight which can be a problem with game birds. The feathers of only one wing should be cut so that the bird is off balance and thus can't fly. Cutting both wings is typically much less efficient in controlling flight since the bird is back in balance.

posted on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 9:54am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

There are only potential chicks in eggs if they are fertilized. The commercial eggs sold in the supermarkets are typically infertile and therefore do not have any 'inborn' offspring.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 8:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

so one of my chick just hatched and i had to help it but now it is laying on it side and hasnt moved for a while it is still breathing though is she/he going to make it? and is there anything i can do to help it?

posted on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 6:52pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Your posting came during the July 4th break - thus the slow response. I hope your chick made it okay.

The process of getting out of an egg is very hard work for a hatchling - so they usually take a break and just lie there for awhile so what you are seeing is not that unusual. You inidicated that you had to help the chick a bit - as long as it wasn't much help there is probably nothing wrong with the chick.

posted on Tue, 07/08/2008 - 8:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I recently bought a a few hens, when I got home and got to looked at them I noticed one of them had an eye that was swollen shut. I gave her some an antibotic to help it. The swelling has went down a pretty got bit and now she can open it. Now that it is open I have noticed that it looks like there is no eye there, you can see a tiny little black dot inside like there is supposed to be an eye there, it kind of looks sunken in but I cant see anything that looks similar to an eye. Can I do anything about it?

posted on Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:56pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

If the hen has no eye in the socket there is nothing much you can do - and hens have gotten on very well with only one functional eye. I have also seen hens do okay when blind. If they are going to be free ranging outside it might be a problem - because it is hard for them to avoid dangers, especially predators.

As long as the eye is not infected then hen should be okay.

posted on Tue, 07/08/2008 - 9:12am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

do you know where i can see some pictures of a baby chickens cloaca. i need to see what the bump looks like.

posted on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 3:46pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I found two sites - both linked. The first is the scienceblog at http://scienceblogs.com/twominds/2008/04/how_to_sex_a_chick.php
The photos in this blog are taken from the research publication found at http://geon.usc.edu/~biederman/publications/Biederman_Shiffrar_1987.pdf
The latter has more photos and more information on how vent sexing is done.

posted on Thu, 07/10/2008 - 8:40am
Lee Loo's picture
Lee Loo says:

OK my family is starting our own little farm like my grandparents. We want chickens very badly but im not quite sure about how often they lay eggs. Can i have an estimated number about how many eggs a chicken will lay in one year? And please explain when they dont lay eggs (like in winter) Thank- You sooooo much :)

posted on Thu, 07/10/2008 - 3:44pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The productivity of hens varies by breed. I would suggest checking with the hatchery that you are purchasing the chicks from for specific information on the breed you purchases, especially if you decide to go for a specific sex-link cross which is popular since it allows for easy sexing of day-old chicks.

IN a commercial operation hens lay eggs all year round because they control the number of hours of light they receive each day. Hens tend to come into production when the days are getting longer and go out of production when days are getting shorter -so aside from the breed you need to consider the management program used before you can estimate the number of eggs.

Of course you won't get the same number of eggs each day. Egg production of a flock tends to follow a curve where they increase production level quickly and then slowly reduce production levels over time. Again, breed and management (as well as nutrition) will affect the length and slope of the downward portion of the production curve.

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 10:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

1.WHY ARE SOME OF MY EGG YOKES RED IN COLOR AT TIMES ? COULD IT BE THE TYPE OF FEED AT TIMES ?

2.WHY ARE THE YOKES MIXED WITH THE WHITES SOMETIMES THEY ARE NOT SEPERATE?

posted on Tue, 07/15/2008 - 9:37pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Yolk color is related to the pigments in the feed. Red is an usual color to get though - various intensities of yellow are the norm.

If you get eggs where the whites and yolks are mixed together than there is a problem with the yolk membrane and/or the handling of the eggs. For most eggs the yolk membrane is strong enough to withstand some rough handling. You would have to shake them really hard in order to break down the yolk membrane and mix the yolk and egg white. With some old hens you will sometimes get problems with egg quality, including the strength of the yolk membrane. Other possibilities include something they are eating, especially if free-ranging.

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 7:48am
Hannah Asfeldt's picture
Hannah Asfeldt says:

i always wondered if they kept eggs cold was so they wouldn't hatch but now i know thats not true but wouldn't it be cool if a whole bunch of chicks came out of their eggs and started running around. i Mean it'd be like chick heaven with all the food and all wouldn't that be sweet.

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 12:32pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

During storage they keep eggs cool for two reasons:

1. To maintain freshness. An egg left out of the fridge can age in a day almost as much as an egg kept in the fridge for a week.
2. To prevent food-borne diseases. Some eggs contain low numbers of salmonella. At these low levels they will not make most people sick (though it can be a concern for those with compromised immune systems such as those with aids, cancer patients undergoing chemo/radiation, the elderly). If stored properly any salmonella that MAY be in the egg will not be able to reproduce - and a certain 'critical mass' of bacteria is needed to make someone sick. If stored incorrectly these bacteria may be able to multiply and become a problem.

More information on the production and safe handling of table eggs (i.e., eggs produced solely for human consumption) can be found online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/index.asp

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 12:18pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

There is a funny story from Minnesota that is not too far from what you described. A farmer was producing balut (a specialty in many areas of Asia, especially the Phillipines), which is an egg incubated till just before the feathers form and then the egg is boiled, peeled and eaten.
Balut is typically produced using duck eggs - ducks have an incubation period of 28 days so the eggs are typically incubated to 18 days for balut.
Balut can also be produced with chicken eggs, but it is important to remember to adjust the length of incubation, since the incubation period of chickens is only 21 days.
Many years ago, a farmer produced some balut eggs using chicken eggs, but he forgot to adjust the incubation time so they were incubated to 18 days - just before hatch. The eggs were not properly labeled in the store and a woman purchased them thinking they were regular eggs. She put them in her fridge and in the morning there were chicks walking around in the fridge!
Does demonstrate the resilience of chicks that they could survive and hatch in the cooler temperatures.
I'm sure that was quite a shocker for the family!

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 12:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Can you tell the age of roosters by the size of there spurs, if so how?

posted on Sun, 07/20/2008 - 11:01pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I don't know of anyone that can predict the age of a rooster on the basis of the spur. Spur size varies from breed to breed. Because of the large number of breeds, I doubt any research has been done in this area - except maybe by a particular breeder.

I have read of one person who uses spur size, to a limited degree, for determining the age of pheasants:

"Sometimes a young rooster [pheasant], especially an early hatch of that year can sport a decent spur length. Spur length has always been a way to determine age up to 2 years. An adult rooster [pheasant] will generally have a spur between 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long and also be quite sharp and pointed. A juvenile [pheasant] can also have, but not really common, a long spur. The difference is that juvenile spurs are generally blunt or rounded. If you still aren't certain you can lift the bird by its lower beak. An adult roosters beak will support its weight, while a juveniles may bend or break."

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 12:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Can I Cut a roosters spurs off since it is just him and some hens together so they dont cut the hens backs up? And if I do will they grow back?

posted on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 10:38pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

From the backyard poultry website:

"Roosters spurs can grow very long and be a danger to children, other pets, hens and to other roosters. There are three basic methods of dealing with rooster spurs. The first is simply clipping the end off, the second removing the bulk of the spur and the third is removal of the entire spur.

Clipping the end of the spur is quick and easy and involves no pain for the rooster. If you go here http://www.poultryhelp.com/spurs.html you are able to see where on the spur it is safe to cut without causing pain or bleeding. I use dog nail cutters and then file off the rough spots.

Removing the bulk of the spur is done with an angle grinder. It causes some pain to the rooster but the heat generated cauterises the blood vessels so there is little or no bleeding.

The third method is either done when the rooster is very young and involves electrocautery of the spur bud by a vet, or surgical removal of the spur under anaesthetic."

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 2:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Someone told me that a rooster that is kept in a pen will not grow spurs, if they do they will be like a nub, and a rooster that is free range will have spurs I dont think that is true could you help me? And how long will it take the spurs to fully grow?

posted on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 10:03pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The growth of spurs is hormone related and has nothing to do with housing environment. So even a rooster kept in a pen will have spurs.

Spurs keep growing for quite a few years. I have never heard of a time when spurs are 'fully grown'.

posted on Mon, 08/04/2008 - 6:51am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

A chicken in Cuba recently may have laid the egg that breaks the world record for the largest egg lain. It's the size of a baseball. National Geographic has a video about this huge feat.

posted on Tue, 08/05/2008 - 10:26am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hello. i have a question. my chicken egg that i know is fertile has a crack in it. will it survive, are there any ways i could fix the crack?

posted on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is very unlikely that a hatching egg with a crack in it will hatch, which is why they are not typically incubated. If you have already put it in the incubator and it has been there for several days, you can candle to see if there is an viable embryo still in it.

posted on Mon, 08/25/2008 - 7:18am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hello again. sorry but i have another question. the egg is in the coop but i really never see the hen in there with it. should i maybe put a heating lamp in the coop above the egg?? or i dont know really what to do. please someone help me. thanks a lot.

posted on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

A heating lamp is not a good incubator. If the hen is not sitting on it, it is probaby because she is not broody. If that is the case she will not incubate the egg. Heating a sub-optimal temperature, as with a heating lamp instead of an incubator, will result in abnormal embryo development.

posted on Mon, 08/25/2008 - 7:31am
momsacook35's picture
momsacook35 says:

the chicken came first!

posted on Sat, 08/23/2008 - 3:59pm
Sophie's picture
Sophie says:

My chicken ( a speckdly) is about 20 weeks old.

I noticed yesterday she wasnt walking right , she seemed lethargic and drinking alot. She is eating fine though.

At about half 5 yesterday i went to check if she was okay, i then found on the floor a very large egg that looked off colour. We then cracked it and found it was a double yoke.

Can anyone tell me if this is the sole reason that she was feeling ill?

Does this always happen when a chicken lays a double yoker?

Thanks!

Sophie x

posted on Tue, 08/26/2008 - 9:27am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is hard to say for sure. Having to pass a large egg can be quite a stress and make it hard for her to walk. At the same time, there are viral diseases that cause neurological problems. It has been a few days - how is she doing now?

posted on Tue, 09/02/2008 - 6:18am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

About a month and a half ago a dog got into my hen house and attacked the hens, 2 of the 5 that survived haven't laid eggs since then, and they looked like they didn't get touched. Is there a reason for this?

posted on Fri, 08/29/2008 - 9:54pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The stress of having a dog in the hen house can put the hens out of production, though stress is not the only possible cause. Depends on lighting, feed/nutrition, health, etc.

posted on Tue, 09/02/2008 - 6:22am
steelhawk's picture
steelhawk says:

Is there a way to tell if a hen has stopped production by looking at her pelvis? I have 8 hens 5 almost 2.5 years old. 2 that are 1 year old and one just 22 weeks old. Our egg production went from 5 - 6 eggs per day a few weeks ago to 1-2 a day now. I am wondering if some of my older hens have ceased laying.

posted on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 3:46am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

You can rank hens in order of who has laid the most eggs and get an idea of who is currently laying eggs by a number of different factors.

If the hen is from a yellow skinned breed such as Whilte Leghorns, they pull the yellow pigment out of the skin to place in the yolk - so the more bleached the skin the more eggs they have laid.

For current level of production you look primarily in the abdominal area, including the pelvic bones. A hen that is laying will have abdominal skin that is thin - an indication that it has less fat since the dietary energy is going into egg production rather than fat stores (sort of like our 'pinch an inch' concept). The pubic bones of a good layer should be thin and pliable (need to be careful when evaluating pubic bones since very good layers may have pubic bones so thin that they break easily). Again, this indicates a lower level of fat around the pubic bones so more dietary energy going into eggs instead of fat.

The third criteria is abdominal capacity - the number of fingers you can get between the pubic bones (width) and between the pubic bones and the tip of the keel (depth). A good layer should have a 3 finger width. Anything less and it is possible they are not currently laying eggs.

Judging past production hens is a class in 4-H and FFA poultry judging contests - with materials available online. A google search should give you some good diagrams and pointers.

posted on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 12:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I purchased two bantam cochin, one male and a female....I would love to have chicks but only want females chicks. I was told that you can tell the difference between the sexes by the shape of the eggs . I do see that the female is laying two different size eggs , some are short and fat others longer in shape. Which ( if it is possible) are the females and which iare the males?????

posted on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 5:02pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Sorry, but there is no way to tell what sex an embryo is by the shape of the egg.

posted on Fri, 09/19/2008 - 9:27am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi,
I have a pekin bantam hen that has been sitting on her eggs for about 18 days now, today when she got off to eat I noticed that all her egg's are very dirty now, they have mud and poo all over them.
Will they still hatch or should i just throw them away?
Thankyou very much.

posted on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 7:44pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The incubation period for chickens is 21 days - you can try cleaning the eggs off (wiping off the eggs not putting them in water) and candling to see if there is anything inside. If there is, leave them a few more days and see if they hatch. If not, throw them out.

Just a clarification for the other readers of the blog - most will be familar with the term Pekin to refer to a duck. More recently it has also been used for Cochin bantam chickens. For more information on Pekin bantams: http://www.poultrymad.co.uk/chickens/pekin.html

posted on Fri, 09/19/2008 - 9:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

can you eat fertilized eggs?

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 12:02pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

From a food safety position - you definitely can eat fertilzed eggs.
From a nutritional position - there really aren't any differences between fertilzed and infertilzed eggs as long as the fertilzed egg hasn't been incubated.

In Asia there is a delicacy known as balut - incubate duck eggs for 18 of their 28 day incubation period (till just before the feathers develop) and then the egg is boiled, salted sometimes, and eaten.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 6:56am
Paul's picture
Paul says:

I wonder if any of you have come across this:I have a perfectly healthy Marans hen that came into lay in January 2008 - She laid about 35 eggs and then just stopped! The othen 5 hens started picking on her (feather peckin g) so I put her into a new run and purchased her a "friend" - a black rock pullet. The pullet is laying perfectly but the Marans is not. She recently moulted and now has a perfectly good set of feathers. She seems to have a good abdomen - no lumps or bumps but she is still not laying. Anyone got any ideas?

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 4:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I suggest you check out the following online factsheets:

- Factors Affecting Egg Production in Backyard Chicken Flocks (University of Florida)
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/ps/ps02900.PDF

- Why Have My Hens Stopped Laying? (Virginia Tech)
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/poultry/factsheets/34.html

Links to additional factsheets can be found at: http://www.ansci.umn.edu/poultry/resources/small-scale_production.htm#eggs

posted on Mon, 10/06/2008 - 11:17am
Scn anonimous's picture
Scn anonimous says:

Can i poke a small hole in my 2 week old chicken eggs to encourage them to hatch?

posted on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 5:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I would not recommend punching holes in incubating eggs. It won't increase the likelihood of hatching and increases their susceptibility to infection.

posted on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 9:03am
LRM's picture
LRM says:

This morning I was preparing breakfast and found something strange in my egg. The yolk look normal, however there was a small round gray object about the size of my fingernail in the egg as well. What was this>???? This eggs were purchased at the grocery store.

posted on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 12:45pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It sounds like a meat spot. Most commercial egg producers are pretty good about candling these out so that they don't reach the consumer - but I guess one snuck through.

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 11:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just have quick question about the EGG
how long does it take from the period of starting forming like an egg to the egg's coming out of hen?

thanks,

posted on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It takes several days for the liver to transfer enough yolk material to the ovaries for a follicle to be ready to be ovulated. Once ovulated it usually takes 24-26 hours to assemble the various parts of the egg (albumen, yolk membranes, shell, bloom) prior to oviposition (i.e., laying of the egg).

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 11:54am
missy's picture
missy says:

I cracked an egg to eat, and the yolk was white. What caused this? The egg tasted the same as the other ones.

posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 4:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Yolk color is the result of pigment in the feed - such as the yellow from corn. If no pigment is feed (as with wheat, barley or white corn based diets instead of the typical yellow corn-based diets) the pigment will be very pale.

posted on Wed, 11/12/2008 - 12:25pm
jack barry's picture
jack barry says:

Does the weight of a fertilized chicken egg change from being "layed" to when it is about to hatch? This has been quite a discussion point for our family and we all need to have an ansewr when we all get together for Thanksgiving. If you could help it would greatly be appreciated!

Thanks

posted on Thu, 11/27/2008 - 9:36am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Sorry for the late reply - I was away for Thanksgiving.

The fertilized chicken egg does change in weight from when it is first incubated till the chick hatches.

"The egg's weight must decrease by 12% during incubation if good hatches are expected." This weight loss is affected by incubator humidity.

posted on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 1:27pm
chickee's picture
chickee says:

I recently had a bad experience with store bought organic free-range eggs. Just started eating eggs in last couple of years (haven't eaten meat in a number of years), and recent experience below has now permanently turned me off eggs forever.

Purchased dozen of the organic free-range eggs, had them in the refrigerator for just over 2 weeks (at under 45 degrees F temperature). Took 1/2 dozen out to hard-cook for spinach salad...placed them in pot with cold water, and set on max heat. I was nearby washing spinach when within a few minutes of putting the pot on stove, I heard a very distinct "peeping" sound coming from the pot. (The sound was unmistakeable, having spent time around baby chicks hatching on farms.) I quickly removed the pot from the heat, lifted the lid and held an egg to my ear. The first two eggs had no sound coming from them. The next 3 eggs had very definite peeping sounds coming from within...one a somewhat weaker peep than the other two. Didn't bother with last egg. I was so upset about the possibility of chicks within the eggs, there was no way I could crack them open to check. Common sense told me that the possiblity of it being chicks is almost nil (I hope) so I gathered them up, along with the remaining 6 in fridge and tossed the carton in a dumpster.

The thoughts I had were the possiblity of expansion taking place or air escaping...but the sound was so much a distinct "peeping" sound, that there is just no way I could see it as anything but the sound of chicks.

I asked friends and family who having been cooking eggs for years and none of them have ever heard these sounds coming from a cooking egg. Needless to say, many of them are now spooked about purchasing eggs in future.

I couldn't find any instance like this on internet...and everything I know and have read advises that the above is just not possible.

Any feedback on above?

posted on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 2:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Sorry for your bad experience with the free-range eggs. I can understand how it would put you off eggs.

Commercial eggs raised 'conventionally' (for lack of a better term) are from hens with NO access to roosters so you are guaranteed that there is no chance that a chick will ever develop.

Free-range eggs can be sold a number of ways - and it would depend where you purchased them and who produced them. If they are marked 'nest run' these eggs have NEVER been candled to remove any inedible eggs and you get the luck of the draw. At the same time, candling eggs allows for removal of blood spots, rotten eggs, etc. but can not tell whether or not the egg is infertile. Many producers who run hens 'free-range' keep a rooster or two around to 'keep the hens in line'. It has been shown that free-range flocks with a rooster or two do tend to stay closer to the hen-house. While this is good for flock management - it does lead to the potential of embryo development.

So, with some free-range flocks, embryo development can be an issue and as a result more attention must be paid to the care of the eggs - they must be collected more frequently; discovery of nests of eggs not previously noted should not be sold since they may have been incubated and therefore would be considered unfit for human consumption.

As for whether or not a case such as yours has happened - there was a case many years ago in which a woman thought she was purchasing fresh table eggs and actually purchased 'balut' eggs. Balut is typically produced from duck eggs that are incubated to 18 eggs (fo the 28 day incubation period), sold fresh then boiled and eaten. Quite a delicacy in many parts of the Asia though not my 'cup of tea'. Back to the woman who purchased the eggs - there was a MN producer using chicken eggs to produce balut and they failed to adjust the inubation period (chicken incubation period is 21 days not 28 daysso for balut eggs shouldn't incubate past 14 days). The woman who had purchased the eggs put them in her fridge. In the morning she woke to a couple of chicks in the fridge.

Definitely shows the resilience of the chick embryo to be able to hatch after being removed from the incubator on day 18 of the 21 day incubation period and still hatching.

So, with all that said, if you decide to eat eggs in the future (and for your friends that currently do eat eggs but were spooked by your experience) purchase eggs from a reputable source - 'conventional' eggs are rarely a problem. Free-range / pasture-raised/ organic etc. are always an option but you need to be more cautious, as indicated above.

posted on Wed, 12/10/2008 - 12:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hello everyone
I was wondering if you could help me with a chicken problem. I have 3 red chickens, 1 black chicken and 1 rooster (I am unsure of the breeds). About two or three months ago the black chicken went broddy so we seperated her from the group and put four eggs under her. From the four eggs two cracked and the other two were duds so we put her back with the group but she kept fighting with the rooster so we had to seperate her again.

She has been seperated for a couple of weeks now and whenever we try to put her back with the group the rooster will attack her over and over again until it comes to the point where she is bleeding.

She isn't broody anymore and is laying eggs like a normal chicken so I dont know whats wrong.

Can anybody help me???

posted on Wed, 12/10/2008 - 10:18pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Chickens are notoriously cannibalistic and will attack new comers to the flock. Since the hen had been separated for 2-3 months the rooster needs to get to know here all over again.

Are the other hens broody or 'available' to the rooster?

If the bleeding is from the rooster mounting the hen you can try putting a sac of some sort over her back for protection till things quiet down.

posted on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 4:03pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options