Getting new fluffy chicks in the mail or older chickens is always exciting. For one, more chickens, and two, new egg colors to add to your Easter basket, but what if your favorite out the bunch decides to go cockle-doodle-do? Even though most hatcheries have a 90% guarantee, sometimes they make a goof. Or if you decide to take the risk and buy from a chicken swap or your neighbor, you don’t know if it’s a rooster. Here’s some of my tips I use in making sure all my chickens are really hens and there’s no little roosters hiding in the bunch.
Of course, the 100% fool-proof method in knowing weather a chicken is a hen or rooster is hearing them crow or seeing them lay an egg, there is a few ways that I like to use to make sure that I’m dealing with hens. If you do end up with a rooster, it’s your choice on keeping it, culling, or selling it, depending on the circumstances.
Most of these methods are typically accurate and there’s no harm in trying them for yourself!
- Fluff color: In some breeds such as the Creme Legbar, the females and males have distinct patterns and stripes that tell what their gender is. Pretty neat, right?
- Wing feather length: In chicks that are still under a week old, looking at their little wing feathers can actually show what gender they are. In females, their wing tips will be two different lengths, while in males their wing feathers will be one length. I use this on my chicks and it’s worked every time!
- How fast they feather: Roosters typically feather slower than hens do, so if you have a chick that’s not feathering as fast as the others, they could be a rooster. This doesn’t always work though, as some breeds are known to feather quickly and some are known to feather slow.
- Hackle feathers: These feathers are typically longer on roosters, more pointy and long on roosters and shorter and rounder on hens.
- Saddle feathers: saddle feathers are at the base of the tail on a hen are shorter and more fluffy, while on a rooster they are longer and hang towards the ground.
- Attitude: Of course, attitude can be a big factor. Males and females, however, can both be feisty or calm, so sometimes this doesn’t work as well.
Of course, some of these tips can’t be used until your chickens are older, but it doesn’t hurt to try, and I haven’t had any problems with these little hacks I’ve picked up. Remember, having a rooster isn’t always a bad thing. If your city permits you to have a rooster, and if the one you do have does his job well, he’s a keeper! Of course, I have no need for a rooster, but sometimes, having a rooster can be a good thing.
Dancing with Chickens