Life Cycle of a Chicken
The Egg, In chickens, the process of egg laying occurs during the long stretches of summer months. A female hen after ovulation takes around 23 to 26 hours to lay the eggs. Another ovulation occurs in hens, one hour after the first set of eggs were laid. This frequent cycle of ovulation enables female chickens to lay as many as 300 in a year. The hen continues to lay eggs till she fills her nest with sufficient eggs.
The Chick, After laying sufficient eggs, the hen becomes a broody hen. A broody hen is a stationary hen that squats or sits on her eggs, to maintain optimum temperature for the eggs to hatch. The growing embryo absorbs all the nutrients from the egg. The embryo develops during this time and hatches tiny chicks after 21 days. These chicks are still wet but grow fully covered feathers in about 4 to 5 weeks. In this stage, the newly hatched chicks have imprinted on the mother hen. Chicks follow mother hen almost everywhere and are completely dependent on them during this time. By week 3 or 4 the chicks start to grow bigger and develop proper feathers. By week 8, the chicks are large enough to go outside and change their food items. From pecking on grains, they are able to peck on mealworms, scrambled eggs etc.
The Pullet, The term pullet is used to describe a chicken that is not a chick nor an adult chicken. The pullet stage is the teenager stage in a chicken’s life cycle. Pullets are skinny with all wings and legs and patchy feathers. A pullet is two-thirds the size of an adult chicken and can get bullied during the pecking order. An adolescent female chicken might lay eggs after 18 weeks and the eggs she lays are comparatively smaller than adult eggs.
The Adult, In this stage, the male chickens become roosters and the female chickens become hens. After 6 months, the roosters produce sperm and the hen produces eggs. A female hen under favourable conditions will lay eggs after 72 weeks but depends on the time period of their first moult. Adult chickens moult annually where they shed old feathers and grow new feathers. After one year of monotonous egg- laying, the chicken gets exhausted and the chickens start laying eggs irregularly.
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