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Believe it or not, we get this question quite often.
Even my wife (a highly educated Nurse) didn't know this one.
Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster.
Without a rooster, the eggs will not be fertile, that's the difference.
The Champion is the White Leghorns (pronounced Legg 'ern) this breed was developed to be an egg machine.
White Leghorns are flighty, small bodied, and are not good mothers.
But for what they have given up, they definitely earn their keep by laying eggs, almost daily.
A group of chicks is called a Brood, Broody is a term for a "Good Mother Hen"
When folks think about a Chicken, they picture the momma hen, with her fluffy little chicks under her wings.
Hens sit on their eggs (and other hen's eggs) for 21 days, until they hatch.
Then the mother hen, guides and protects the new chicks, until they can fend for themselves.
So when someone says, "My hen went broody" it means she's sitting on a clutch of eggs.... until she hatches a Brood of chicks.
The short answer is that you can't.
I know there's a LOT of theories and instructions out there.
But, it's a lot tougher than folks think.
We will try and address the most popular thoughts.....
Vent sexing: This is looking at the chick's private parts and trying to determine boy or girl. This is a VERY difficult thing to do. I know of only a handful of folks in the entire industry that are trained and competent at vent sexing. Also causes a lot of injuries to the the chicks.
Wing sexing: This CAN be done, but it can only be done on chicks that come from certain males and certain females. We order the correct boys and girls, in order to wing sex our chicks. This is what most major hatcheries do to sex their chicks. Wing sexing can only be done in the first 24-48 hours. And can only be done on a few breeds. This method is still only approximately 80% accurate.
Sex Link: This is probably the best, and most accurate. Once again having the right boys and the right girls, produce chicks that can be identified by their color. Some breeds have completely different color chicks, some have a yellow or white dot on their head, and other interesting combinations. This method can only be done with limited breeds.
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No milk required !!