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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:48 am 
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Dapper Duck
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:32 am
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Location: Hastings, Florida
I presently have 4 silkie chicks hatched by my silkie couple and they are 7 weeks old.
They are still in the coop/house with their parents and Mima, their mom, started laying this week.
Also in that house are 4 standard size chicks who are 8 weeks old.
Happily they all get along perfectly!
I believe that timing for silkie chicks differs from the bigger standard chicks?
I'm wondering at what approx age should I expect the standard chicks to either lay an egg or crow?
(I have decent suspicions of genders of them)
Same question about the silkie chicks?
Also, would a pullet start laying at the same age as a cockerel would start crowing?
One of them is a barred rock,suspected cockerel, the others are mixed breed. (of which I suspect a 2nd cockerel and 2 pullets)

On the other side of this, I'm wondering if there is a usual time span/frequency that a hen (in this case silkie) would naturally go broody?

Thanks to anyone who has feedback!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:56 am 
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Golden Robin
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Location: Tuross Head, NSW fsr south east coast
Hi
There is a lot of variables that come into play here that include the local environment, the weather and more importantly the genetics of each individual bird. As a general rule, the males begin crowing a lot earlier than pullets begin laying. The males crowing is very much like a teenager boy's voice breaking at first but it slowly develops into a proper crow. It may start at about 10 weeks but commonly at about 16 they should obviously be crowing males. That does not mean they are fully developed sexually mature males though.

As a general rule, the bigger and heavier the bird or breed of bird, the longer it takes to be a fully functioning adult fowl. This applies to males and females and we could be talking about forty weeks. The climate and the seasons also play a role here as nature designed poultry to be spring layer and man has manipulated this so they lay more eggs and earlier. Not all hens obey !

Start of laying time. Commercial laying hens with supercharged genetics mostly start laying at about eighteen weeks or so but most pure breeds take longer. Silkies are slower, as are heavy breeds, when compared to laying breeds such as Leghorns. In the right season with good weather you can reasonably expect eggs to begin at about 26-30 weeks but that is only a guide.

Mike

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 10:26 am 
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Dapper Duck
Dapper Duck

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Location: Hastings, Florida
Thanks, Mike! That is certainly more than I knew this morning! I'll keep posting with news :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:40 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Location: Albany, Western Australia
I agree with what Mike has said. Silkies are generally a bit slower to lay. However I had a group of young ones I didnt expect to start to lay until spring and they all surprised me by starting as winter started and have kept me in eggs all through the cold months (what good girls!). My silkies will lay probably around the 20/24 egg mark before they go broody (but they do it really regularly). I have never actually counted lol. All my young silkies who have been laying for the last couple of months are starting to go broody now.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:24 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Location: Hastings, Florida
NellyG, that's exactly what happened with Mima my silkie hen. She went broody after about 1 1/2 months laying. Her chicks are 7 weeks old and she started laying again this week.
I would love another bunch of her beautiful chicks, but I don't want to stress or ire her physically. I trust she'll know when to do what.
I'm in no hurry for the chicks to mature either. They are precious just as they are.
And...when they do mature I'll have the job of separating them into new little couples or trios.
I've heard mixed opinions on line breeding. Would either of you, or anyone else care to comment?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:39 pm 
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Golden Robin
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Location: Tuross Head, NSW fsr south east coast
Line breeding is fairly common here but its not as simple as just continuing to breed from a straight line. You do need to read up on it and have a handle on what to breed from what. It doesn't really matter if its line breeding cats, dogs, sheep, cattle or what ever. The principle is the same.

The other thing is regardless of what technique you adopt you also have to apply corrective breeding principle as anytime you apply "stud" breeding you go backwards in many areas of health, type and genetics. Corrective breeding is best described as correcting faults and a quick example is breeding an animal with an undershot lower jaw with an animal that has an overshot lower jaw. Another example is breeding silkies with an exaggerated head "bonnet" with a silkie with a fairly poor head "bonnet".

As an opinion, line breeding is an excellent way to keep a specific line of a breed going but you do need to understand what you are doing.

Mike

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:20 pm 
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Gallant Game
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If you want to keep breeding but don't want to over stress the hen there is always an incubator.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:03 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Location: Hastings, Florida
Thanks :-)
I'm not looking to incubate, really.
I just want to enjoy the natural process with my hens and roosters...and their chicks.
My question goes to how to safely incorporate the chicks into my existing mini-flock.
Thank you for your feedback :-)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:30 pm 
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Golden Robin
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Location: Tuross Head, NSW fsr south east coast
asuncion.rera wrote:
Thanks :-)

My question goes to how to safely incorporate the chicks into my existing mini-flock.
Thank you for your feedback :-)


Short answer is dont even try until the chicks are nearing full adult size and weight.

Longer answer is that if she hasn't already then the mother hen is about to lose interest in the chicks leaving them to fend for themselves while she will want to be back with the flock. If you put the chicks in with the flock you can be almost sure the flock will bully and be aggressive with the chicks and will keep them away from resources such as food and water. I dont have to paint a picture of the probable outcome.

You will hear stories of people successfully integrating chicks into the flock but you dont hear many stories where it didn't work because people dont boast about their mistakes but you can be sure there are more heartache stories untold than there are success stories told.

Mike

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:23 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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They should also stay on Grower Feed until they are mature. The 16/18 weeks (probably recommended on the bag) is suitable for commercial hybrid layers who mature earlier than most pure breeds or backyard crosses. I like to keep my pullets on grower until about 22 weeks, or until the bag is nearly empty (then 50/50 with layer) - more if the weather is wet or laying is delayed by shortening days.
They are intergrated when they are fully transitioned to 'grown up food'.
Mum can be returned to the flock when they are about 6 weeks or are no longer sleeping under her. By then she may have taught at least some to perch.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:35 am 
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Dapper Duck
Dapper Duck

Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:32 am
Posts: 92
Location: Hastings, Florida
Thank you Mike and Sue
It's funny that I plan to go the store for more grower feed as I ran out late yesterday after the night feeding. The bag says to 16 weeks and they are only 7 and 8 weeks old now.

Mike, to elaborate on this silkie set-up, I started with only one rooster and one hen, kept in a different area from the other standard size mixed breed chickens.
I watched carefully (and I'm sure I had very good luck). The rooster and hen stayed together for the entire time she sat, then hatched the chicks. He has been very sweet and nurturing with them. So she is not away from her "flock" even though that consists of only 2 adults.
This was her first time to hatch eggs. I'd like to add more silkie hens now or in the spring.
The chicks and both parents, never having been separated fro each other are getting along perfectly.
I've received very mixed input about the pros and cons of letting the pullets stay in with the original couple. "Line breeding" makes me nervous in some ways.
It is the chicks (8 week old) that will be integrated with the standard size birds in the other area.
From this feedback I will wait quite a long time before trying. I believe it is always better safe than sorry :-)


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