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Q: I want to breed chickens, so can you tell me how to get my rooster interested in mating and how to tell when the hens go into heat?
A: When a female animal is "in heat," she is ovulating and/or ready to be mated. In some animals mating induces ovulation, but this isn't the case with chickens. In fact, hens of most breeds ovulate more or less year round: they ovulate yolks, enclose them in albumen and shells, and lay the eggs. If your hens are laying eggs, they are ready to be mated.

Presuming your rooster is old enough to be sexually mature (5 - 6 months or so), he is likely mating your hens when you are not around. Just because you don't see him mating, that doesn't mean it isn't happening. If he sees you as the top cock, he will want to avoid your seeing him with the girls if he can help it.

A good ratio of hens to roosters in backyard flocks is about 10 hens per rooster. This maintains fertility, but avoids injuries to hens from overbreeding.