How do Chicken Farms Fertilize Their Eggs? Chicken Mating and Reproduction

How do chicken farms fertilize their eggs

How do chicken farms fertilize their eggs? By mating, of course. Just like human beings fertilize their embryo. But mating and raising brood typically happens only in small homesteads and free-range farms. Commercial factory farms do not like the hassle of chickens mating and brooding. They buy fertile layer chicks for their egg production and broiler chicks for meat production.

Let’s look at how small chicken farms fertilize their eggs to get chicks.

But before I deal with the question of ‘How do chicken farms fertilize their eggs’ let me share some interesting facts with you.

Female chickens do not need to have sex for them to start laying eggs. It sounds incredible, but it’s true. Once a laying hen comes of age, they begin laying eggs. But these eggs are unfertilized. Most of the eggs which we get from the market are unfertilized eggs.

If a chicken broods over her unfertilized eggs, they will never become chicks because they are unfertile. If you want to fertilize eggs to get chicks, you have to introduce your hens to a rooster. The rooster will do what he has to.

How do chicken farms fertilize their eggs? The Courtship and Mating Process

The courtship season, mating and brooding happen in springtime. The increase in daylight causes some hormonal changes in chickens, which leads them to feel the need to procreate. There is an increase in their androgen, estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones are crucial for the development of the yolk and embryo.

Most roosters are playboys. They will mate with many hens in the flock but will have some favorites among them.
Once the rooster fancies a hen, he will perform the courtship dance to attract the female. If the hen shows interest, they will mate. But hens can be choosy too. They look for qualities that impress them, like his looks (a red comb and wattle are sexy), his bravery (if he is a good protector) and if he is healthy. Interestingly, hens don’t get impressed by the fancy dance alone.

Roosters try to impress hens by showing them some interesting titbits or morsels around. If the hen shows interest, he scores a point. Eventually, most hens do fall for the rooster’s charm, but there are some rare instances where they don’t.

Hens can eject the sperm of the rooster if they don’t want their eggs to be fertilized.

Once courtship is over, the chickens will get down to business. If you have seen chickens mating, you might have thought it looks like rape. But it isn’t. often, hens can sustain injuries in the mating process. When the rooster tries to get a proper grip on the hen when straddling, its claws cause injury.

A rooster can mate with up to 15 hens. And they will do it 10-15 times a day with the selected hen as long as the hen cooperates. The best time for mating is early morning, and his perm load can be between 100 million to 5 billion.

The Cloacal Kiss

The hen squats to the ground and spreads her wing, anticipating the rooster once the couple has decided to mate. The rooster mounts her from the back and steadies himself on her using his claws. He takes hold of the head’s head feathers with his beak. Then they kiss.

No, this is not a normal kiss. A cloacal kiss is when the hen opens up her cloaca. The rooster, too, opens his cloaca to reveal a small raised point called the papilla. The rooster then passes his sperm from the papilla to her open cloaca, where it reaches the unborn or unlaid eggs in her oviduct.

The sperm will fertilize eggs on that day and for a few days after. Sperm for the rooster, when deposited on the cloacal wall, migrates to the vagina and stays viable for 7-10 days.

Once the rooster’s DNA meets with the DNA of the hen, they fuse and become a fertilized seed called the zygote. Cell division starts after 5 hours, and the fertile egg undergoes the stages necessary to foster a chick.

The hen will then find a quiet and dark place for nesting. She will cache her eggs, around 5-8 eggs, before she starts brooding. A hen will sit on her eggs for about 21 days till they hatch or die. Roosters usually don’t disturb a hen during this period. If he tries to mate, the hen will chase him off.

Some breeds of chickens are broodier than others. Depending on the type of hen, a farmer will decide whether to leave the hatching to the hen. Some hens are wonderful mothers who take care of their eggs well, arranging them and staying dedicated to keeping them warm. But not all types of hens are like that.

Most farms remove the eggs to an incubator where the eggs are hatched. I don’t think the hens feel good about this. If the hens are left to take care of hatching, she will take care of the chicks well.

How do you know if an egg is fertilized?

The fastest way to know if the egg is fertilized is to crack it open. Fertilized eggs will have a white spot called a blastoderm on them. But eggs cracked open cannot hatch.

Another way to tell if eggs are fertilized is by a process called candling. Candling is to take the eggs in a dark area and put a flashlight under them. If the egg is fertilized, it will have a clear white spot with veins within the egg.

The process of mating and fertilizing eggs in commercial farms happens in hatcheries. And chicken farmers simply buy the type of chicks they want and grow them. But if what you have is a free-range farm or small homestead, then you will be interested in producing your own chicks.

How do chicken farms fertilize their eggs? Summary

Chickens fertilize their eggs by mating. The rooster passes its sperm to the cloaca of the hen in a process called the cloacal kiss. The sperm stays within the hen for 7-10 days and will fertilize the eggs in that period. Next, it’s up to the hens to lay, brood and hatch them. Farmers also use an incubator for this.

The manner in which commercial hatcheries produce chicks is different. And they don’t follow the natural processes of mating and brooding due to high production.

How much space do you think 2000 chickens need? Read this article to know.

*All pics are taken from