Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Egad, was that crowing?!

My 12 chicks are almost 6 weeks old now. I have spent countless hours these last 35 days observing, noting and memorizing appearances, characteristics, behaviors, and personality traits.

Having never had chickens before, everything is new to me and I find myself, at times, very uncertain about how to proceed and with an unbelievable number of questions. This is one of the reasons I love this blogging thing so much. There are so many people out there who have already experienced exactly what I am experiencing, loved the experience, and want to share their tips and advice with me.

Now, as I'm sure all new chick owners do, I've watched my girls very closely for any and all "signs" of pending rooster behavior. When I picked out my girls, I chose pullets only (chicks having been ID'd with 95% certainty as female) for ten of them. The only two straight-run (unsexed chicks, 50/50 chance of either male or female) chicks I chose were my two "puffball-headed" chicks, the White-Crested Black Polish.

Theoretically, I wouldn't mind having a rooster. I love the sounds they make, how beautiful they become, and it just "feels like a farm" with all that crowing going on. But I easily admit to being a bit naive at times. I know that I won't like being attacked from behind or pecked unexpectedly by some cocky, little, two-foot devil, nor do I plan to allow my pullets to suffer from the feather-removing, skin-tearing, sexual assault I have heard can happen multiple times a day at the claws of some of these randier roosters. But not all roosters are like that, are they? Or, are they?

All this said, imagine my surprise when I went into the chick room the other morning, removed the screen from the top, watched the girls scramble and chirp for my attention, and observed one of my Silver-Laced Wyandottes jump up onto the perch, stretch her neck, flap her wings and make a strangled-sort of guttural crowing noise. Am I making this up or did my pullet just crow?! She's a HE!!!

I had been noticing lately that sHE has become the bully of the box... sHE will race around, pecking unsuspecting heads and jumping on the backs of otherwise engaged chicks, ultimately cornering every one of them into one section of the box, where they will stand, all crammed together and looking pitiful. Once this has been accomplished, sHE runs around maniacally for a bit and then jumps back on the perch looking mighty proud. But this crowing thing, well, that's a new one.

I'd love to post a picture of my new ROOSTER for you, but my ability to do this died, along with my laptop, on Friday night. (grumble, gripe, whine)


  1. Out of 13 chicks that were sexed, I lucked out with no roosters. I have seen some of my females jump on the backs of other birds and pull neck feathers, but crowing is a boy thing. Not all roosters are evil. My dad had one evil and 3 nice. Yours may be a nice one. I plan on keeping one this year, I'll cull the evil ones, they are no fun at all!

  2. I agree with sugar, danni! Not all roosters are devils. I had a wonderful rooster...Rocky...how creative....and he was such a sweetheart. He followed me everywhere, and always knew which room I was in inside the house. He would crow outside that very room everytime. Now, I guess I should tell you that I didnt have any hens...sooooooooooooo...maybe that's why he was so sweet. Hard to tell hahahahaha!!
    Keep your rooster and see how he does, if he's naughty...can we say "chicken stew"????

    What the heck are we going to do??? NO PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Having never had chickens, it'll be interesting to see what sex that one turns out to be. In my geeky chicken-info-blog-reading fixation, I've run across a few mentions of some females that actually tried to crow. Weird, eh? Wonder if yours is a boy, or a girl??? Oh the suspense...

  4. Maybe she's just having a sexual identity crisis? Or maybe she's a he? I have 12 eggs in an incubator at my uncle's right now. I'm trying to not get too excited that I may have chicks before the end of the month. No idea how many will be roosters. However many there are I'm not keeping anymore than one so I guess the rest will be stew?

  5. Is that Wyondotte the same one that was so "forward" and friendly earlier? Is this suspected rooster larger and heavier than the others? Does it have bigger feet and thicker legs? Is it taller? It's kind of early for true crowing to begin. This bird could just be the dominant hen in the chicken pecking order. She may be their leader.

    Roosters do "herd" their flock of hens, but I hadn't noticed a lot of bullying going on when I had my beautiful rooster, a Buff Orp I named "Frasier" after the TV character. I did have to provide separate living quarters for my rooster after his rough clawing during repeated mating actually killed one of my hens. I didn't know about his sharp spurs and how they would dig into my hen's skin. Her feathers hid her wounds until I finally noticed that she was injured. Then it was too late to save her. There are ways to remove a young rooster's spurs (don't wait until they are older like I did, but I didn't know about it back then and I am still not sure how it is done.

    Frasier "challenged" me exactly 3 times, buy pecking strongly on the back of my hand and holding on and by charging at me and flying toward my face once. I just made myself look big and tall and yelled at him a loud deep voice. (Very comical,I'm sure!) That seemed to get him the message that I was the leader, not him. He never bothered me again. Even living on the other side of a wire fence partition from my hens, he would still cluck gutterally to announce feeding time and sound the alarm to protect his flock when he thought danger was present.

    Compare your suspected rooster's size and weight to the other young hens. Having a rooster isn't so bad. I do miss the morning (and evening) announcements of sunrise and sunset.

    I am going through picture withdrawal! Isn't your laptop dried out yet???

  6. I'm teaching a gender studies course this semester: keep good notes on these developing sex identifiers, then we can invite you to come as a guest speaker!

  7. Hi sugarcreekstuff: I really, really hope that, if this little one is a roo, that he turns out to be a nice one. A quiet one, too, because my husband won't tolerate having his sleep disturbed... Good luck, right?!! ;-)

    Hi eve: I want to see a picture of Rocky! What kind was he, what happened to him, and why didn't you have any hens?

    Hi robbyn, I have read this, too, about hens sometimes crowing, but I thought it was an older hen thing to do to compensate for a lack of a rooster-leader...

    Hi mim! Oh, how exciting to have incubating eggs! I hope to see pictures of this and maybe some video of them hatching?!

    Hi jen, good question! No, this is the other Wyandotte, not the same one that was intially so friendly and outgoing. She, by the way, still loves to fly out of the box, but has distanced herself from me somewhat and I could never cuddle her like I do my Ameraucana and Buff Orpington.

    So, you were successful in separating your rooster from the rest of your hens, huh? And he seemed ok with this? He didn't become depressed or despondent without female attention? :-) Good to know that one can still adjust the pecking order somewhat by letting them know who's boss!

    Hi kathryn, unfortunately, my notes on gender differences to-date are clearly somewhat biased. Take for example, my deduction that Dot was a rooster just because she acted stand-offish, uncommunicative, and, well, *challenged*, by continual wall-stariang. Do you still want me to come speak? ;-)

  8. So, by "stariang", I, of course, meant "staring". lol

  9. That would be pretty cool if you had a rooster! But what if it makes babies?...we didn't get any roosters...what do they look like? Oh, I guess I know what they look like...lol...

    Chickens are so confusing, you can't tell if they're male or female! LOL

  10. My rooster did not appear depressed being separated from my hens. He could still see them and hear them and interact with them through the wire fencing. He just didn't get to mate with them. He did die suddenly at about age 2 1/2 years. I never did find out why. He was fine one moment and then about an hour later I went out there and he was dead. They can have strokes or heart attacks according to my chicken health books. Perhaps it was a snake bite. Maybe he died of frusration. I had to separate them to save my girls, but I loved him too and couldn't bear to kill him or get rid of him. I was sad when he died.

  11. They may not all be evil but the few that I have met have been....Along with the geese too! Off with there heads!

    P.S. The sex change thing happens in other species also. I have a friend who has a "boy" rabbit that had babies.


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