Chicken reproduction involves a rooster laying with a hen to fertilize the eggs. Keep in mind that without the rooster, the hen can still lay eggs, and the rise eggs won’t lay into baby chicks.
The fact that hens can lay eggs without the roosters’ presence makes people question chicken reproductions. Can a chick be developed without male and female chickens? Are chickens asexual?
Are chickens asexual?
Chickens are not asexual. In order for a baby chick to be born, a rooster has to mate with a hen and fertilize her egg when the egg is starting to develop. Chicken reproduction is not asexual.
What is an asexual animal?
Asexual reproduction is simply a reproduction with no gamete fusion or number of chromosome changes.
In other words, with asexual reproduction, there is practically no sex involved, which means no male reproductive cell touching female reproductive cell, or in particular no sperm touching egg.
Instead, asexual animals reproduce either by cell division or aggregation. The best example of cell division is when a unicellular organism like bacteria or archaea splits its cell to create 2 new identical cells.
There is also parthenogenesis, which is an asexual procedure where the egg will develop into embryo even if fertilization isn’t performed. It is also called “virgin birth” since that’s what the name “parthenogenesis” derives to.
One of the main points that differentiates asexual animals and sexual animal is the produced cells in asexual animals will come from a single source of either their parent.
Asexual animals are animals that reproduce without any sexual procedure involved, such as intercourse found in mammals.
Examples of asexual animals include sharks, komodo dragons, starfishes, python snakes, wasps, ants,
Keep in mind that some of the animals mentioned above can reproduce asexually and sexually. Usually, asexual reproduction is carried out when the condition for sexual reproduction is limited.
What is a sexual animal?
Sexual reproduction is a procedure that involves a gamete combining with another to create a new organism. Gametes can be eggs or sperms. Each gamete contains a single set of chromosomes, and together they combine into the new organism.
In other words, sexual reproduction must involve some kinds of processes that make the “male” gamete contact with the “female” gamete. In the case of mammals, this process is intercourse.
This type of reproduction is the most common form of creating a new life cycle for a lot of plants, fungi, and animals. The newly created organism will inherit the genes from both of its parents.
Asexual animals are animals that reproduce by some kinds of processes that combine egg and sperm from 2 individuals.
Examples of sexual animals: all vertebrates except for some sharks, some reptiles, (and yes, that means the chicken is in the list as well), although asexual reproduction in vertebrates are rare.
In nature, some individuals in a species will reproduce more than others. This is because they are good at keeping a mating partner. This occurrence is called sexual selection. This does not exist in sexual animals.
Chickens are sexual animals
Chickens have sexual reproductive organs
A male reproductive organ is called the papilla. It’s located inside the cloaca and looks like a small bump. The organ doesn’t act like a penis except for transferring sperms.
Similar to the papilla, a female chicken has no vagina and her reproductive organ is inside her body, behind the cloaca layer.
Further reading: Why do chickens lay unfertilized eggs?
How do chickens mate with each other?
- Mating rituals
This process involves the male chickens performing certain actions to gain the female chicken’s attention and “impress” her. Some of the male chickens’ ways of gaining female chickens’ consent.
Wing flap: where male chickens will flap their wings with fancy-looking feathers and dance around the female chickens.
Role-playing: where male chickens dance in a circle and try to position themselves into the mating poses behind the female chickens. This can be done simultaneously with the first way.
Food trick: where male chickens pick up food or pretend to do so while calling the female chickens to come over so that male chickens can make their moves.
- No mating ritual
The male chickens can try to perform all of the above laying rituals to gain female chickens’ consent, or just straight up approach the female chickens, get into position, and just mate.
- Mating process
The male chickens will get into a position that resembles piggyback and hold the female chickens’ feathers, whereas the female chickens will spread their wings and lower their tails.
Then, the males’ chickens just locate their cloaca to the female equivalent parts. The female chickens invert these cloacas so that both cloacas can touch each other.
And with that process, the sperm is transformed to the female chickens’ cloacas and stored inside their bodies for fertilizing future eggs.
The process usually happens in seconds, so their mating is pretty quick. And since chickens have no penis or vagina, the mating process isn’t the same “sex” term people think about.
Parthenogenesis in chickens?
As mentioned above, pathogenesis is an asexual reproduction where an egg can develop into an embryo without the males’ presence. So can baby chicks be produced that way?
The answer is mostly no. There are a few cases where a chicken or turkey egg develops into an embryo, which fits with the term of parthenogenesis.
But there are only a few records of this occurrence. Furthermore, the development ceases during incubation. That explains why unfertilized eggs can’t hatch into baby chicks.
So, are chickens asexual? Chickens are sexual animals. Their reproductive process involves a male chicken mating with a female chicken. An egg needs to be fertilized in order to grow and hatch into baby chicks.
Asexual animals are animals that don’t perform any process of getting 2 gametes (it can be eggs and sperms) to combine with each other.
Image credits – Photo by Georg Bommeli on unsplash.com