Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a cockerel for my hen to lay eggs?
No – you only need a cockerel if you want your hen to sit on her eggs and produce chicks.
What are the best breeds for laying eggs?
Many of the hybrids will lay a good quantity of eggs for at least two years.
When will my hens start to lay eggs?
At Point of Lay between 18 and 22 weeks your hens should start laying. Hybrids will start laying at POL even if you get them in the autumn. However pure breeds will not start laying if they reach POL as autumn is approaching – as the days get shorter pure breeds and cross breeds do not lay.
How many eggs will my hens lay and for how long?
Hybrids will lay almost every day for two years but thereafter the eggs will substantially reduce. Pure and cross breeds will lay for longer but only in the spring and summer.
How do I stop my hen being broody?
Hybrid hens shouldn’t go broody as this trait should have been bred out of them. However I hear plenty of stories about Black Rocks and other hybrids going broody at regular intervals. If you do have a broody you should take them off the nest and put her in a separate coop with a wire mesh floor to make it as uncomfortable as possible.
Why is my hen laying soft-shelled eggs?
There could be several reasons for this. If your hen has just started laying she may take time to settle into it. Try making sure she is getting oyster shells as this will help her produce enough calcium for the shell. If the problem persists she could have a defect or a damaged reproduction system.
When and how do I tell if a chick is a young cockerel or a pullet (young hen)?
With some breeds it is easier to tell than with others. The Marans chick is easy. Males have a white blob on their heads. You might have to wait until you witness an attempt at crowing from a young cockerel. Cockerels will generally be taller, with larger combs and start developing tail feathers.
How many hens can a cockerel look after and mate with?
A cockerel can easily cope with 12 hens.
What is the best way to introduce new hens to an established flock?
Keep them in a separate run for at least a few days so that they can get used to their new surroundings.
How long will my hens live?
Hens can live for 10 years – cross breeds generally live the longest as they are the hardiest.
Will I get rats?
You may well get rats but then often households without any hens do as well. Try and make sure you don’t leave any food hanging around to attract them and store all your hens’ feed in secure dustbins.