Monday 4 July 2016

End of the breeding season

Some of this year's La Bresse young stock hatched in March
At the end of June the breeding hens deserve a rest they have been producing hatching eggs since January and are looking a bit tired. They will still be laying for the rest of the summer but without the attentions of the cockerel, he will be kept separate.

Mating in poultry is a pretty rough affair, the cockerel leaps on the hen grasps her with his claws then jumps off and looks around for another mate. Over the breeding season the hens tend to lose quite a lot of feathers from their backs and can be quite severely clawed to the point of bleeding.

Fertility tends to drop off after mid summer mainly because the cockerels are losing their libido and are not quite so interested. Of course introducing another cockerel  and some competition can renew their interest.

Some of this year's breeding hens are going to Orkney in the Autumn along with the same cockerel, they will start to moult and by New Year should be pristine with a new set of feathers. Increasing day length after the winter solstice kick starts the laying and breeding season for another year.

Next years breeding hens are just about to start laying, they were hatched in early March and will be put into a breeding pen before Christmas probably with a Cockerel from Germany.

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