Hens were on the nest again in late July with 11 eggs brooding away. Both Speckled Sussex were sitting, choosing the bottom two nest boxes to incubate in.
Hatching started on the 28th and continued through the first few days of August. Then the chicks that had been fertilized went with one of the mom’s while the other continued to brood what turned out to be duds. Eventually, the unfertilized eggs started to smell and it was clear that only six chicks had made it through to hatch time. Since our rooster is young, that could explain the low fertility rate, but another suspected genetic predisposition has revealed as well.
Alexander, our rooster, is the son of Sidney, our first cockerel at Leafhopper Farm. Sidney’s first and only round of hatchlings were all male. This was strange, and I thought it was a fluke. With this second generation of chicks, I was sure there would be more hens. Well, it seems that there are still many more male chickens again, and I began to question our rooster line, until I did a bit more research. Turns out, roosters have nothing to do with determining gender, it’s all up to the hens.
This chart is a simple breakdown of avian genetics which are a little different from human. So, instead of throwing out your cockerel, take a second look at your hens. I have already added another rooster from my Ayam Cemani flock to the main hen house. This beta rooster will add genetic diversity and very interesting hybrid birds from my hens. Hopefully, with double the coverage, less unfertilized eggs will end up being brooded.
The new chicks are happily pecking in the yard with their mother, who, after moving them out of the hen house and into the briar bushes, was relocated with the babes to my chick pen to grow and thrive under close watch and the protection of the house yard with Indo, our gentle pup guardian. These little ones are looking like more roosters, causing me to wonder why there are so few hens coming out of this flock. It should be about a 50/50 ratio of males to females, but that’s not been the case at Leafhopper Farm thus far. Perhaps with the introduction of a mechanical brooder, and more eggs being hatched, I can bring the odds back into my favor.
I plan to brood all the Ayam Cemani eggs, though only one hen ended up reaching maturity in the flock, with 4 other roosters. Since the Ayam’s are so valuable, we’ll keep our roosters for now, introducing them to specific hens as needed, allowing us to track fertility and genetics more closely. In future, I hope to raise my own chicks, and perhaps, develop new and interesting hybrids from the Ayam Cemanies. Keep checking in to see the future mixed flock and new Ayam Cemani chicks as they appear!