We didn’t know much about chickens until they arrived at our door step. Sure, we had skimmed a few books, but nothing really sunk in until they were pecking away in our yard and we HAD to know a thing or two to keep them alive. Oddly, everyone who comes for a visit asks the same five questions about chickens. So here is a run down of fun facts about chickens (and eggs).
Does a rooster have to be present to get eggs?
No. Hens will lay eggs regardless of whether a rooster is present. Most commercial egg farms do not have roosters present at all.
How can you tell if an egg is fertilized?
If you buy farm fresh eggs at your local farmer’s market, you’ve probably eaten more fertilized eggs than you realize. Next time you crack an egg into a frying pan, take a close look at the yolk. You are looking for a light yellow dot, called the blastodisc. If your egg is fertilized, the blastodisc has turned into a blastoderm and will look like a little bullseye.
How can you tell if an egg is fertilized without cracking it open?
There is a process called candling that allows you to see through the shell (to a degree) to determine if your egg is developing into a baby chick. There are all sorts of fancy candling devices you can buy, but a bright flashlight and a very dark room will do the trick. With experience you can easily tell if a chick is developing within three days of it being laid. Simply place the egg on the flashlight and use your hand to create a seal around both. In the first eight days you’ll be able to see the blood vessels forming outward from the yolk. The further along the chick gets, the more difficult it becomes to see anything when candling because that little baby is taking up all the room.
How long does it take an egg to mature into a baby chick?
A fertilized egg must be kept at 100 degrees (by a sitting hen or an incubator) for 24 hours before it will start developing into a chick. The gestation period is a very nerve wracking 21 days. We have roosters, so we know some of my eggs are fertilized. We make sure to remove eggs from my coop every day so that even if our eggs are fertilized they will never start the developmental process.
How many eggs do hens lay a day?
Different breeds of chicken lay at different intervals. Some breeds are prolific layers, laying an egg or two a day, and some are not as prolific, laying only one egg every few days.
Those are the basics. We hope you feel enlightened. Ha!