The birds and the bees, or in this case, the turkeys and the chickens.
Because discussing poultry fornication never gets old, and because after my recent post a lot of people have come up to me to discuss the complexities of chicken and turkey reproduction, and because I promised to write a post every.single.day. in February, I give you poultry reproduction, as I understand it. Gather round kids.
Part 1: Which Comes First
Well, if you order from the McMurray hatchery, the chicken comes first. It arrives with about twenty of its friends at the post office at 7:00 AM, and the postmaster calls you to pick up the chicks. Even if you were asleep only moments before you answered the phone, you can still hear the baby chicks chirping in the background.
So these cute little baby chickens grow up to be cute little grown up chickens. When the chickens are about six months old they reach sexual maturity and can lay eggs. Regardless of whether or not you have a rooster, the lady chickens, hens as my scientist husband calls them, will lay about an egg a day. If there is no rooster the eggs are unfertilized. No baby chickens will arise from these eggs.
Part 2: Cock-a-doodle-doo
If, at your farm, you do have a rooster, then you can make baby chickens. Just let your rooster run around in the yard with all of your chickens. The rooster will have sex with them. I promise.
Part 3: Eggstrordinary measures
Now, here is where things get scientific. If you want to collect eggs to eat or sell, all you do is go in and grab the eggs as soon as they are laid. If you cool them down below the body temp of a chicken, then any eggs that are fertilized will not become viable. Since it is winter all of our eggs go from the cold outside temps to the fridge. They are then ready to eat or sell.
Geoff decided he also wanted to try to hatch out our own chicks. That means that he has to try to get to the eggs while they are still warm out of the chicken’s cha-cha and then keep them warm. So Geoff has been going around for the past several days collecting eggs and putting them in an incubator. We now have 40 eggs in an incubator. In about three weeks we will see which one were actually fertilized and can hatch. With any luck, we’ll have a couple dozen new baby chicks in the brood house at the begining of March.
Part 4: To Review
So, to recap-
Lady Chickens= eggs
Lady Chickens + Boy Chickens < 70 degrees= eggs
Lady Chickens + Boy Chickens + 99.5 degrees= potential baby chickens
Part 5: The Turkey Caveat
Turkeys work basically the same way, except the lady turks don’t lay an egg a day. In fact, we are not totally sure if our Turkeys have laid any eggs at all yet. Also, boy Turkeys are not as smooth with the ladies as boy chickens. I guess that’s why roosters are more closely associated with virility than turkey toms. After all, nobody calls a boy’s cha cha a Tom.
Fun fact: you can eat turkey eggs. They taste like chicken eggs only they are much bigger. Turkeys love smooth jams from the 70s. But they will also respond to Neild Diamond. And Shakira.
I hope this helps clear up some of the mysteries behind poultry lovin’. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a discussion of goat lovin’. We hope you’ll join us 🙂