It is natural for animals that a male and a female need to mate with each other to create their offspring. This is especially true for mammals and most vertebrates around the world.
However, with many farm-raised chickens or chickens in egg-producing facilities, you will often see female chickens can still lay eggs despite the absence of the rooster. How do chickens lay eggs without a rooster?
How do chickens lay eggs without a rooster?
Female chickens can and will try to lay eggs even if the rooster is not present during the development of the egg; it is their instinct. This is because the process of forming and developing the egg doesn’t need the rooster at all.
How is an egg-formed?
The process of creating and developing an egg involves an oviduct and an ovary in the chicken’s reproductive system. In the ovary, the egg’s yolk is first created and it will move to the oviduct when it is ready.
In the oviduct, the egg white surrounding the yolk, and then the eggshell that covers the white and the yolk are formed.
The white takes about 4 hours to form and the eggshell takes more than 20 hours to form. After that, the egg is laid by the hen.
After at least half an hour, the next egg can be produced inside the hen, and the egg-forming cycle repeats.
Why don’t hens need roosters to lay eggs?
With the right condition, a chicken forms and develops an egg, then repeats the cycle. It doesn’t matter if there is no rooster around the hen. The rooster’s only role in the egg production is to fertilize the egg.
If a rooster mates with the hens in the flock. The eggs that the hens lay in the next 3 weeks will be fertilized. And if said fertilized eggs are set by the hens or incubated in an incubator for at least 3 weeks, they can turn into baby chickens.
Can eggs hatch without a rooster?
Although roosters are not needed for the hens to lay eggs, they are necessary if you want the eggs to develop into chicks. Without the roosters, the hens still lay eggs, but the eggs won’t hatch.
If your flock has a rooster but you collect the eggs daily and put them in a cool place for storing, they won’t develop into baby chickens.
When do hens start laying eggs?
At the age of 18 to 20 weeks, a hen will start laying its first egg. During the first 2 weeks, the hen may not lay eggs regularly, and that is as expected.
Also, the eggs laid during these first 2 weeks may have blood that covers the shell or eggs that are misshapen. You don’t have to worry about this since it is normal. The laying rate and the quality of the laid eggs should be normal once the organisms of the hen are fully developed.
Laying hens require a sufficient amount of nutrition, so you should serve your chickens proper food with proper nutrition once they start laying eggs to give them the energy they need to give you the eggs.
It is recommended that you invest in layer feeds. Since laying hens need a lot of calcium to form the eggshell, you could feed your chickens calcium-rich treats like oyster shells, crushed eggshells, and more.
Chickens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs – Photo Credit by John Broadbent
Related: Can a chicken lay 2 eggs a day?
Why would chickens lay eggs without a rooster?
When it comes to laying eggs, the hens have a tendency to lay eggs to make a clutch of eggs. This is related to their survival instinct of having more eggs means a higher change of eggs growing up.
After collecting their own clutch of eggs, the hens will sit on and try to keep the eggs warm, whether they are fertilized by the roosters or not. After some time, they would notice if there is something wrong with the eggs and could possibly leave the nests.
Would having roosters around make the hens happy?
Even though the roosters may not directly make the hens’ life happier, they do have some positive effects on the hens.
Since chicken is a social animal, the roosters can make sure the hens live as naturally as possible. They have more roles than just fertilize the eggs.
Roosters help the hens live in peace
Even though the chickens have lived together for a long time, there will always be some chickens picking out squabbling those who are lower in the pecking order.
One chicken will take the leading role and assert dominance over other chickens. It could resort to violence if other chickens try to take the role. And the rooster can settle this when it is in the flock.
Roosters protect the hens from predators
The roosters can protect the hens by watching out for the predators like foxes, bears, or weasels. And if there is a threat, they could warn the hens to go inside and put up a good fight with certain predators.
Roosters can find treats for the hens
In a flock, the leading hens can go out and find foods like worms, seeds, bugs, etc. for other hens to come and enjoy.
The roosters can do the same for the hens. They will go around, scout the food, and will let the hens know when there is a treat found.
Read more: Can a rooster lay eggs?
So, How do chickens lay eggs without a rooster? It is their instinct to lay eggs regardless of whether the roosters are present or not.
Moreover, the process of forming and developing the eggs can be done without the rooster at all. The yolk would be created first, then the white and the shell. The process takes more than a day to complete.
But, the hens would be somewhat happy if the rooster is there for them. It could keep peace in the flock, fight predators, and find food.