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Breeding Orpingtons - my secret recipe for improved fertility
by the Cuckoo Stud
Some have trouble with fertility others don't seem to with this breed, or at least don't admit to it if they do.
Orpingtons have a breeding season; they ought not to be bred from all year round as fertility rises and falls, time of year and
ambient temperatures dependant.
It is also best to hatch chicks only in a time span when they have the best chance to grow out properly.
When hatched outside of these times Orpington chicks tend to be stunted as adults.
In Australia it is recommended the breeding season be from the first or second week in August to the last week in October.
This is not only the peak fertility time, but it allows all chicks hatched to grow out enough before the real heat of Summer, and
for the following years exhibition season.
For overseas Breeders this breeding season would be the opposite time of the year = in their Spring but before
Summer starts to arrive.
I have experienced seasons of poor fertility, others where every egg set hatches a healthy chick.
I quickly realised it was not just the time of year but the ambient temperature that effects fertility (sperm count in the roosters)
The hen should never be blamed if fertility isn’t there as the fertility depends on the sperm from the rooster.
Some, me included, believe natural mating is best and choose to trim the birds for breeding to aid in the fertility as chickens externally mate. So any help in this regard is good.
Some choose to exclusively use Artificial Insemination, their choice, but one I would not use exclusively as it is well known
that roosters can lose the ability to mate naturally if constantly used for A.I.
Also, A.I. does not guarantee 100% fertility in this breed. Some from other breeds have reported similar.
So I started to investigate how to ‘up’ fertility (sperm count) in the roosters.
I quickly discovered that Chick Peas helps in this regard.
My secret recipe for increasing sperm count is =
For large birds = 3 to 4 Chick Peas per bird per day for 3 weeks before and during the entire breeding season
For bantam birds = 1 or 2 Chick Peas per bird per day – size of bantam dependent – a Japanese or Belgium Bantam would
only need one Chick Pea – an Orpington or Brahma bantam would require two.
The Chick Peas need to be soaked to soften them (overnight is best) then mashed to a fine paste and added to a barely
warm mash that you know your birds will eat.
Birds do not like the taste of Chick Peas so they need to be disguised in ‘tasty’ food.
You need to supervise to ensure the rooster gets the correct amount of Chick Pea Mash each day.
Alternately remove him to his own holding pen for this meal.
I recommend the 3 weeks before starting to put the rooster with the hens to allow the Chick Peas adequate time to work.
I have no idea why they work but here in my yard they do, and a number of others have started using this recipe over the last four or five years with success.
Of course there are other methods out there that can help with fertility (sperm count), so if any long time Breeder gives you advice in this regard = there is no harm in trying it = if it works that is excellent.
Note that White birds can display a yellowing as a result of the Chick Peas, also their chicks can hatch very yellow, but this fades over a few weeks once the Chick Peas are no longer fed and as the chicks grow as they do not get fed the Chick Peas (obviously)
Hope this helps someone.
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