Quite by accident while out & about on the farm during an exceptionally warm winter day in February we managed to snap off a few pictures of our birds having sex. For us, this is nothing noteworthy, the chickens have sex every day, several times a day. The difference was that this time, we were taking photos of the birds & just happened to catch the entire courting process on camera.
First the rooster starts to cluck to the girls while excitedly picking up & dropping whatever juicy tidbit he has found or not (sometimes he pretends). He wants the girls to know (or think) he has something tasty & that they should come to him so that they can have the tasty morsel.
Once he has lured a hen to him, he puffs up & moves about in a way that lets the hen know he wants to breed. If the hen is responsive, she will squat down so that he may climb on her back.
The rooster then climbs on the hens back & grabs hold of her shoulders (the tops of her wings). This is often called treading. The hen will lift up her tail. Her body tends to be forced forward by the weight of the rooster, helping her further lift up her tail which makes breeding easier ahem faster. Many times the rooster will grab hold of the hens hackles to stabilize himself. Some roosters are much more clumsy than others. The more experienced the rooster, the less likely it is that a hen will end up with a bald patch by the end of the season. The rooster will wobble a bit then tilt his rump downward towards the hens rump in a cupping motion. Sometimes there is a little bit of a wiggle. He then hops off, often crows & struts about while the hen shakes out her ruffled feathers. The entire process takes less than a minute.
Once the act is complete, it is business as usual. The rooster looks out for his flock while they forage. He will repeat the process many times throughout the day with a variety of his hens. If you've ever wondered, now you know.
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