Sunday, February 15, 2009

'Cheep' Sex

Okay, really it should be "cluck-cluck" sex, right? But the topic remains: how do chickens have sex?

All of this was brought about by Gertrude's recent move into chicken adulthood and my kids' assumption that there would be baby chicks running around at our next visit to Belly Acres. I told them, no, these were unfertilized eggs, like the kind we eat. O then asked, as he should, well, "how do they get fertilized?" "Uh... chicken sex," I say with enough confidence that I hoped he would take the answer and move on. He did, but it'll come back around so off we go to internet for help...

And there I learned that domestic fowl don't have penises, but they do have testicles. The chickens put their cloaca's up against each other and the female sort of "captures" the sperm and pulls it into her body where it can be stored and used as necessary to fertilize a whole clutch of eggs that are actually produced and laid one at a time (usually once a day) for 7-10 days. Constructing each egg is pretty intricate and starts with the ovum, around which is constructed the yolk, and then most of the other bits are added on in the uterus and finally there is some speculation that the color is added to the shell in the vagina shortly before laying.

(in my two second search I couldn't find any good images, but here is a completely silly South Park scene that involves chicken sex to distract you...)

The next question in the "how do they do it?" topic thread pertained to my composting worms (I have plenty, btw, if anyone is looking to start a bin in their own kitchen). How do worms reproduce? Well, this is pretty cool, cooler than the chickens, I think. Certainly cooler than you and me.

Worms have both male and female reproductive bits. When they mate up, they attach their female bits to the other worm's male bits and their male bits to the other worm's female bits! Anyway, from there they make some rings, drop an egg in the rings and back out while depositing the other worm's sperm in the rings, which once the adult worm is free of it, becomes an egg sac out of which will emerge little worms.


Stephanie said...

I always wondered about chickens!

Dee said...

Claudia and I agree that worm sex takes the prize for the most interessting mating behaviors. But we do feel a little sorry for the male chicken that has (sadly) no penis :(

Anonymous said...

If Gertrude sees those two worms getting it on she would eat them mid coitus.--Daye