A Great Question

Published on: 11:49AM Jun 19, 2009

John,
   A dumb question I know from a city boy...are the eggs fertilized by roosters to produce baby chicks before they are formed and layed by the hen, or after?  What process makes the eggs we eat non fertile?
David Poll

Editor's Note:  John's response is below and will be featured in the June 20-21 edition of the Farm Report Mailbag...

   FIRST OF ALL DAVID, IT'S NOT A DUMB QUESTION.  I WASN'T SURE MYSELF.  ONCE YOU ANNOUNCE YOU ARE A FARMER, PEOPLE EXPECT INTIMATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENTIRE FIELD OF KNOWLEDGE IN AGRICULTURE. WORSE YET, I'M AN ENGINEER, NOT AN ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR.   WE HAVEN'T HAD CHICKENS SINCE I WAS SMALL BOY.  IN FACT, OUR UNUSED CHICKEN HOUSE BECAME THE HEADQUARTERS FOR MY MODEL ROCKET CLUB.   
   ANYWAY, EGGS ARE FERTILIZED BY THE ROOSTER AND HEN MATING BEFORE THE EGGS BEGIN TO FORM A SHELL OR YOLK.  ONE MATING CAN SUFFICE FOR SEVERAL DAYS OF LAYING FERTILE EGGS.  HOWEVER, SINCE HENS WILL LAY EGGS WITHOUT MATING, COMMERICAL EGGS ARE MOSTLY NON-FERTILE, WITH NO ROOSTERS INVOLVED.
   REGARDLESS, EVEN FERTILIZED EGGS WILL NOT BEGIN TO DEVELOP EMBRYOS UNLESS TEMPERATURES ARE WARM ENOUGH, WHICH IS WHY HENS SIT ON EGGS AND WE USE INCUBATORS IN HATCHERIES.  BY KEEPING EGGS COOL, FERTILIZED EGGS ARE ESSENTIALLY INDENTICAL NUTRITIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY TO NON-FERTILIZED.  THANKS FOR THE E-MAIL. IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT AGRICULTURE - NO MATTER HOW BASIC - WE'D BE GLAD TO HELP.

 

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