Potential Article on Misc. Poultry Quesitons

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Working up another article for the rag. Please give your answers to the following questions. Iíll select the one(s) which seem to be the best. Indicate if you want credit or not if used. Would prefer something like Clara from KY as identification (no e-mail addresses will be used). Answer any and all you want, but please identify answers to question number. You are also welcome to contribute new questions. Iíll run a draft by for additional comments.

1. How do poultry physically have sex?

2. Does a hen have to be fertilized to have eggs?

3. What are the white spots you see around egg yokes? Are they sperm deposits?

4. What are the occasional blood spots you see around egg yokes? Are these OK to use?

5. How are eggs graded as to size?

6. If only grade A eggs are sold in supermarkets, what happen to other grades?

7. Are the eggs I buy in a supermarket fertilized?

8. If a hen hatches out a clutch, how long will it be before she starts to lay eggs again?

9. Can hens crow?

10. Why do some hens lay brown, pastel or white eggs?

11. Are naturally-colored eggs any better than white eggs.

12. Is there a difference in taste between fresh, naturally-raised eggs and supermarket eggs?

13. How long will eggs keep refrigerated.

14. If I want to have a hen set on a clutch, can I pull out the eggs from the nest and keep them somehow until they make up a clutch? If yes, how?

15. Will a broody chick sit on the eggs of other poultry/wildlife species?

16. How can eggs be preserved to be used when egg production from the flock is way down?

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), December 06, 2001


wow,,,, most of that has been covered in the archives Ken,, but you should know that :)

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), December 06, 2001.

Here are some of the answer's from my point of view:

1. I've seen my roosters mount my hens before, and while it appears as if he is doing it for dominance, the hens do not seem the 'enjoy' this, as I've had many attack the roo after he dismounts. To say it is an act of sex is misleading. The actions are for procreation, but I do not think it is enjoyed by both parties.

2. Eggs will come regardless of being fertilized or not. You only get chicks from fertile eggs, though :-}.

7. It is highly unlikely that the eggs in supermarkets are fertile, since most farms will not put out any money to feed roosters, and the hens are kept in areas with other hens, or in single cages. Free range chickens in specialty or health food store may be fertile.

8. It depends on how long it will be before a broody hen will start to lay again. I've noticed that my silkies will not lay until they have been separated from the chicks, which can be any where from 8-12 weeks. My other standard breeds, will usually lay 6-10 weeks after.

9. While I've never heard it personally, I do know of others who have hens that crow.

10. Just like the birds that fly all over, chicken have genes that dictate the color of their eggs. Certain breeds lay certain colors. The standard white egg that you get in the store is usually from one breed of chicken. Mostly leghorns.

11. An egg is an egg, is an egg, is an egg. They all taste the same - unless they are rotten, LOL.

12. My daughter can tell the difference between store eggs and fresh. She refuses to eat eggs outside our home because she doesn't like 'store' eggs.

14. You need to ensure you have a hen that will go broody. If you clean your eggs for hatching, then you can remove them daily, store in an egg carton and turn them at least twice daily. If you aren't so concerned with their appearance, leave the eggs in the nest, and this may help the hen go broody. Some wont stop laying until they see they have a large clutch. If you remove the eggs, it may keep her laying, rather than wanting to sit.

15. Chicks don't go broody, on a whole, however, broody hens can sit on other species. In fact, they use silkies to hatch out raptor eggs in release programs. I've used mine for quail and pheasant, too.

-- Wendy A (phillips-anteswe@pendleton.usmc.mil), December 06, 2001.

Stan, I don't think Ken is comfortable using quotes from the archives without specific permission. There's been trouble before about that kind of thing.

-- Laura Jensen (lauraj@seedlaw.com), December 06, 2001.

4). The blood spots are just that, and only that - spots of blood. There's a lot happening to build an egg, and it needs a lot of raw material delivered, and that takes a lot of blood vessels. Occasionally one of the little capillaries will break, and occasionally some of that blood before clotting occurs will get caught up in the egg. It's perfectly OK to eat - there's a lot less blood than you'd get in meat.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), December 06, 2001.

Eggs are graded by weight not by size. and are candled for defects. I cannot give you the specific weight requirements because I suspect they change. Any blood spots are rejected.

Eggs that do not make the A grade are sold in bulk, hauled in tanker trucks and are used in commercial bakeries and other processed foods.

Yes, fresh from the hen eggs taste so much better than store bought eggs that may be up to 2 years old.

Fresh eggs won't peel when hard boiled because they do not have sulpher gas by-product of decompostion separating the egg from the shell like aged store-bought eggs.

For those of you in Washington state, call Wilcox Farms in Roy and arrange a tour or field trip for your group.

-- Just Duckie (Duck@spazmail.com), December 06, 2001.

2.) No. Infact a rooster has nothing to do with the egg laying process.

7.) Very unlikely. I have never seen a commercial egg farm have a rooster anywhere on the farm.

9.) Yes. Although not very common in most breeds of chickens it seems to occur more in Game breeds of chickens. These hens are known as Hennies. Some Hennies lay eggs some not. Some Hennies have tail feathers simaler to Roosters.

10.) The color eggs is determined by what breed of chicken they are. Many folks belive that diet has an affect on the shabe (dark or light) the egg, they me might be right, I dont know.

11.) All eggs are naturally colored unless you dye them. White is a natural color for some breeds, same as brown or even green.

12.) I think the freshness is the main difference in flavor but diet also makes a difference.

15.) Yes a brrody hen will set on eggs of other spieces. I have heard a story of a Buff Orpington hatching an Ostrich egg, but it probably just that a story.

16.) Pickeling is a favoriate of mine.

-- Mark in N.C. Fla. (deadgoatman@webtv.net), December 06, 2001.

1. The entire fertilization process is when the vents of the rooster and hen touch and the sperm being deposited by the rooster. 2.A hen can lay eggs without them being fertile, so can ducks, and turkeys. 3.I always thought the tiny spot on the egg meant it was fertile. 4. They are protein spots so probably were minute amounts of blood. 5. the eggs are weighed and graded. 6. I am sure they are used in many bakeries and other places, they are also dehydrated. 7.No way, the egg plants would not have any use for a rooster. The hens are kept in cages, 2 or 3 to a cage, with the lights on 24/7 and fed high protein egg mash. When the hen burns out at about a year she is shipped to Campbell Soup, or some other place to be turned into food or feed. Sure sounds like healthy eggs, no wonder they get blamed for so much, might as well eat something radioactive 8. It usually takes about 3 month or so. It depends on the hen, some get over being broody much faster than others.

9.I heard they could, never had one do it.

10.egg color is hereditary and the hatcheries can tell you what color egg your hen will lay. 11. It really does not make any diference on the color of the egg shell. Diet and I believe stress or happiness makes the diference. 12. My mother could not eat a store bought egg. I can tell the difference and so can people who only eat store eggs because the farm eggs have too much flavor! 13. eggs will keep for months and months tho they will take on any flavors or odors that are in the refrigerator. 14. You can remove the eggs and put them in a carton and turn them several times a day. You must leave a few eggs or nest eggs so the hen will stay broody and not abandon the nest. 15. A hen does not mind what kind of poultry she hatches out. My mother hatched out 5 turkeys under her favorite banty hen. 16. You can keep some in the refrigerator(remember they keep for a year or so there), you can separate the yolk and white and freeze them. and I think there is some kind of solution you can put them in but can't remember the name of it.

-- Karen in Kansas (kansasgoats@iwon.com), December 06, 2001.

OK, 16. You know where all to find it in the archives, but a basic tick list:

First and above all else, keep the eggs as cool as you reasonably can. This will slow down the process of them going "off". If you can either separate white and yolks, or scramble them, they can then be frozen. (Separated yolks should be scrambled or whisked as well).

Or you can store whole eggs by stopping air from getting to them. This takes two forms - either sealing the shells, or immersing them.

Sealing the shells can be done by using KPeg (an Australian product - Yay! obviously superior!), or using Vaseline, or a mixture of beeswax and olive oil.

They can be immersed in waterglass (a solution of sodium silicate in water); or lime water. Waterglass can be obtained from (some) produce stores or hardware stores or pharmacies. Lime water you'll need to look up the recipe.

Any others?

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), December 06, 2001.

9. I understand crowing hens may be due to a hormonal imbalance, and they may lay fewer or no eggs. What I always think of when this topic comes up is a West Virginian saying my parents told me: A whistling girl and a crowing hen will either one come to a bad end.

12. The improvement in flavor of an egg from a hen raised on the ground and in sunlight over its mass-caged counterparts' efforts is not only tremendous and rewarding, it can be motivational. Much of the first stimulus in seeking to leave the sidewalks and live on a homestead was the memory of the wonderful taste and rich color of the farm fresh eggs on my grandparents' breakfast table.

Ken, please identify me as 'Mark from Little Woods Farm' should you decide to use these. I enjoyed your article on the Croatian farm family.

-- Mark Sykes (mark@marksykes.net), December 07, 2001.

I know most of this is in the archives, but I am hoping this method will make putting together a Q&A article easier as I can cut and paste.

17. How often does a rooster need to copulate with a hen for her eggs to all be fertile?

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), December 07, 2001.

I forgoet to say you can identify me, too, and the answer to the copulation I think is once every 9-14 days. I've never seena rooster that can go that long, though. LOL

-- Wendy A (phillips-anteswe@pendleton.usmc.mil), December 07, 2001.

2. Does a hen have to be fertilized to have eggs?


3. What are the white spots you see around egg yokes? Are they sperm deposits?

These are meat spots. They can be tan, brown, gray or white. They occur when a piece of reproductive tissue gets caught on the egg. The eggs are okay to eat.

4. What are the occasional blood spots you see around egg yokes? Are these OK to use?

Blood spots occur when blood or a bit of tissue is released along with a yolk. A bright red blood spot indicates freshness, since the spot becomes paler as the egg ages. The eggs are okay to eat.

5. How are eggs graded as to size?

Eggs are graded by candling and according to weight.

Grade AA are the freshest, highest quality eggs. They have clear, thick egg whites, a firm, high-standing yolk, and a small air pocket.

Grade AA eggs are good for poaching and frying. After ten days grade AA eggs become grade A.

Grade A eggs are a little runnier than grade AA, but still good for frying and omelets.

Grade B eggs have clear but weak whites, a flattened yolk, and a larger air pocket. They are fine for baking and cooking.

Jumbo, 30 ounces; Extra large, 27 ounces; Large, 24 ounces; Medium, 21 ounces; Small, 18 ounces; Peewee, 15 ounces.

7. Are the eggs I buy in a supermarket fertilized?

No. The large egg producers that service supermarkets don't keep roosters.

9. Can hens crow?

Yes. But they'll usually stop after a molt.

10. Why do some hens lay brown, pastel or white eggs?


11. Are naturally-colored eggs any better than white eggs.

What is a 'naturally' colored egg? -LOL- The color of the shell is determined by the breed of chicken and has no bearing on the nutrient content of the egg. White eggs usually come from White Leghorns. Brown eggs are produced by Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, or Plymouth Rocks. That's for the supermarkets. We know there's many other breeds that lay these eggs ~ and other colors.

12. Is there a difference in taste between fresh, naturally-raised eggs and supermarket eggs?

My friends and I can not tell the difference between store bought and my free ranging bird's eggs except for the color of the yolk. Store bought yolks are pale yellow; my hen's egg yolks are orange.

13. How long will eggs keep refrigerated.

Several months.

To tell if the eggs are fresh, put them in a bowl of water; the water should be at least an inch higher than the eggs. Fresh eggs will stay at the bottom of the bowl. If the eggs float, throw them out. They shouldn't be eaten.

14. If I want to have a hen set on a clutch, can I pull out the eggs from the nest and keep them somehow until they make up a clutch? If yes, how?

I keep them in the fridge. I don't turn them. Mine have hatched when stored point up, point down and laying on their side. Let the eggs warm up to room temperature before placing under a hen!

15. Will a broody chick sit on the eggs of other poultry/wildlife species?

Chicks don't go broody ~ they have to grow up first! -G- All poultry will set/hatch other species.

16. How can eggs be preserved to be used when egg production from the flock is way down?

I don't have that problem; my hens lay all year around, and without added heat or light.

Something else you may want to use: the white string-like thing around the yolk ending in a small clump. It's the chalazae. It anchors the yolk and keeps it centered.

Double yolks happen when ovulation is too rapid or when a yolk gets 'lost' and is joined by the next egg in line.

Rogo (Texas)

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), December 07, 2001.

Don't forget to add that apprentice chef's basic lesson. Break each egg individually into a small bowl (or a cup) and check it before you add it to the others. Whether it's the chef making up a large-scale souffle mix with four dozen eggs, or you breaking a couple of eggs into your packet cake mix, it's a lot cheaper if you catch a bad one before you add it to all the rest.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), December 07, 2001.

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