Friday, July 26, 2013

My 13 Week Old Barred Rock Cockerel is Fertile and Working It!

My 13 week old Barred Rock cockerel is fertile!!!  I have witnessed him mounting my laying hen recently and he appeared to be getting the job done, if you know what I mean.  He has been trying to mate with my pullets, who are also 13 weeks old, but they just run from him.  My laying hen Big Red, who is 8 months old and has been laying for a few months, knows what she is expected to do, so she stops and squats for him.

Barry my Barred Rock cockerel at almost 12 weeks old.

I asked around to the more experienced chicken keepers and everyone kept telling me that he couldn't be fertile at only 13 weeks.  Leigh (aka Bulldogma) from Natural Chicken Keeping blog said she wasn't sure if it was possible for him to me fertile at only 13 weeks, but did say that the general rule is that if he has the 'gymnastics' down, then he is probably fertile.  She has chickens about this same age so she wanted to know the answer to this question as well.  She suggested that I collect my hens eggs for the next week and check them for the fertile 'bullseye' when I cracked them for breakfast.

I collected Big Reds eggs for the next 4 days.  Two were double yokers (she drops about 50% double yokers), and two were single yoked eggs.  I cracked them open and examined the yokes...all six yokes had the BULLSEYE!  Which means that Barry is definitely fertile and successfully mating with my laying hen Big Red!  Woo Hoo this is so exciting.

I tried to take some pictures but only had my cell phone handy and they are just not clear enough to see the ring in the picture, however in real-life the rings are very visible.  You can go to Natural Chicken Keeping blog to see what fertile and infertile yokes look like.  She has some very good photos for comparison.

Now to answer the nay-sayers who will say...
  • "You must be off on his age and he is older than you think." I am 100% positive of his hatch date of April 16, 2013, which made him exactly 13 weeks of age when I witnessed him mating with my laying hen Big Red.  
  • "You must have only thought it looked like a 'bullseye' on the yoke." I could clearly see the dot in the middle and the ring around that dot.  It was visible on all four of her eggs (6 yokes due to 2 double yokers).  I even cracked a few store-bought eggs and they only had the single dot.
  • "You must have another rooster that is mating with her." Nope, I have Big Red my only laying hen, and all of my other chickens were from the same incubator hatch as Barry, all born on the same day.  He is the only rooster in the bunch.

To further test my accuracy on the fertility, I placed one of Big Reds eggs in the incubator that I already had running with some shipped eggs.  I candled the egg on Day 3 and saw an air pocket and veins.  I candled the egg again on Day 6 and I saw a 'growing' air pocket along with a little chicken embryo and movement!

Interestingly Barry has yet to crow in the morning...not even attempted to yet.  Guess he doesn't feel the need to boast about his man-hood when he is hatching out chicks with my laying hen.  I will keep you posted on the status of my growing little chick in the incubator.  She is due to hatch on August 8th.

  Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 2 dogs,
3 cats, and various Chickens!

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