The hen and her eggs

Myths about the henhouse on the Ritten: We clarify.
Why do hens lay so many eggs?
Hens lay an average of one egg per day: Normally, they lay only until the nest is full; ten to twelve. They then sit on the eggs and begin to brood. 21 days later, the eggs hatch. Since farmers collect the eggs every day, the clutch is never complete. This encourages the hens to keep laying – up to 3000 eggs per year.

Does a hen need a rooster to lay eggs?
No, they don’t need a rooster to lay eggs, but they do for fertilisation. If there were no rooster, the hen would only lay unfertilised eggs. From the sixth month of his life, a rooster is in his prime, and is sexually active 40 to 50 times a day. The act of mating only lasts a few seconds. On average, eight to ten hens and one rooster are housed in the chicken coops on the Ritten farms. He copulates with each hen around three times a day, circles her around once more after mating and then moves on to the next one.

What is a normal day like for a Ritten hen?
In the morning, somebody - usually the farmer's wife - opens the door of the chicken coop. Hens and rooster spend all day outdoors, sun, snow and rain alike. Once they’re out in the meadow, they have a quick flutter around and begin their daily cleaning: They shake old feathers off their plumage and scratch and “bathe” in the sand.
When searching for food, hens and roosters have to navigate by blinking their left and right eyes in alternation. Their eyesight is very different from humans, whose eyes are aligned. Hens use their beaks to feel the hardness, size and shape of food. They like scratching for worms and snails in the ground and now, in summertime, they often catch flies. Farmers feed them a balanced diet rich in nutrients and minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Hens and roosters alike have a particular fondness for leftovers. To get water down their throats, hens dip their beak deep into the water, scoop it up skilfully, tip their heads back and let the water run down their throats. The cooler the water, the better: hens don’t like the heat.

Do hens have any natural enemies?
Hens and roosters have a good ear. Before they were domesticated, their ancestors lived in the forest and good hearing was essential for survival. Research shows that hens and roosters use 30 different sounds to communicate with each other, both in the henhouse and outdoors. In the meadows around the farm there are a number of natural predators: The marten, the fox and the vulture. This means that many hens die a premature death

Can hens fly?
Hens and roosters have an incredibly fast motion-sensing ability. Although they can fly up to 30 metres through the air in case of emergency, they can normally only stay airborne for a short flutter. Their element of choice is the earth, where they can feel even the smallest of vibrations. In earthquake areas, hens often stop laying eggs in the days leading up to a major quake, cling unusually close to each other, become restless or stop eating.

A farm without hens is like soup without salt.
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