Do you need a rooster to get eggs?
No, absolutely not. Hens will produce eggs as long as they are healthy. Production may slow down as they age but may continue to lay as long as they live. Chickens, like humans, produce eggs with or without a male present. Hens are actually born with all the egg yolk they will ever produce in their lives.
Can I feed my eggshells back to my chickens?
Yes. I just let them dry in a bowl and then I crush them up a bit. But you still need to feed them calcium. I use oyster shells. Egg shells are fine but they are a source of quick-release calcium. Oyster shells are a slow-release calcium which breaks down throughout the night, when the hens are making their eggs. Without a good source of calcium, hens actually pull calcium from their bones and can make their legs weak and brittle, possibly causes breaks just from jumping off the roost. Also, oyster shells should be freechoice and given in a separate feeder, as roosters don't need the extra calcium.
Can I sex my day old chicks?
Nope. Unless they are sexlinked. Sexlinks are two certain breeds that when bred together, male will be one colour, females another. You will notice differences as the age. I find pullets (young females) will usually get their tails feathers first, and cockerels (young males) will develop larger combs and wattles. Also, when I they are older, cockerels will have saddle feathers. Then, obviously, one should crow, the other should lay eggs. Some people claim you can feather sex chicks (by looking at the shapes of the feathers on the tips of the wings at about 1-2 weeks old) I've never found this to be true, and was told it really only works with certain breeds. Vent sexing is how hatcheries do it, but you must be trained properly or you could seriously injure a chick.
Is the yolk, the chick?
I used to think so, but no. You are in no way killing a baby when you eat an egg. It may have been a potential baby, if it were fertilized, but you did not kill anything. Fertilized eggs are perfectly okay to eat, and if you get them farm fresh, they may be. If you look at the yolk closely, you should be able to see a white spot. If the spot has a ring around it, like a bullseye, (blastodisc) then it is fertilized. The yolk is actually the nutrients that the chick absorbs. If you buy eggs from the grocery store, those chickens have never been in contact with a rooster (and may not have ever seen grass for that matter) so those will never be fertilized.
How long does it take to hatch chicks?
21 days. After the start of incubation, the blastodisc will form veins. It will continue to develop for 21 days, at which point the chick will poke through the membrane inside the shell to get some air. This is called internal pipping. Then the chick wil begin breaking through the shell. The first break through is called pipping or external pipping, then they will start to "zip" around the shell until they can push out. This can take up to 24 hours after the initial pip. Hatching is hard work.
Fact: They're all called chickens.
I've heard many people refer to "egg layers" as the chickens and the males are roosters. Incase you didn't know, they're all chickens. Female chickens over a year old are called hens. Male chickens over a year old are called cocks. Young males are cockerels. Young females are pullets. Until you know, its best to just call them chicks.