Friday, July 8, 2016

Rooster or Hen?

My chickens are about 7 weeks old now. All four were sold to me as pullets (baby hens), but as they get older I'm starting to suspect that a couple of them are cockerels (baby roosters). I researched some signs to look for for identifying gender in this breed, and two of my chicks are showing signs of being manly men. :)

Chick #1: This is the oldest and biggest chick. I think it's a pullet. The comb is thin, with only one row of "peas", and it's very light in color.  

Chick #2: This is another one I think is a pullet. Again, the comb is very thin and light colored (except for a dusting of black pigment), and this chick is very quiet and shy. This is the chick I'm most confident is female.

 Chick #3: This chick is lighter in color (another typical rooster trait) with lots of white markings on its chest. The comb is wide, with 3 rows of peas, and starting to get pink. I suspect this is a cockerel.

Chick #4: The smallest chick, because it's a week or so younger than the rest. This one started showing rooster traits really early...I noticed the comb getting pink when it was only about 2 1/2 weeks old. I thought maybe it was irritated because the other chicks were pecking at it, but now I'm pretty sure it's a sign of an early bloomer rooster! This is the one I'm most sure about; this is definitely a boy.

Another sign is that chicks 3 and 4 do a lot of play fighting. They'll run up to each other, stand up tall, and jump and flap their wings at each other. All of the chicks do this from time to time as they sort out the pecking order, but these two do it a lot. I'd say 75% of the "jump and flaps" are done between the two of them.

Unfortunately, this means I can't keep these guys. Since I'm in a suburb, I can't have a rooster because of all the noise they make. Fun fact: roosters don't just crow in the morning, they do it every few minutes ALL DAY LONG! It doesn't bother me, since I grew up with a rooster at the mini-farm across the street. I think it's kind of comforting, in a way? But city-folk neighbors don't feel the same. :P

And since I'm on a tight budget, I also can't afford to feed a chicken that isn't producing eggs. If I had a big flock I'd keep one of them and get a anti-crow collar (seriously, google it!), but since I'm only allowed 4 birds I need them to be all hens.

So my cute little gray chicks will have to go! There's a chicken swap at a local farm store in the middle of July, so I might take them there and see if I can get a few dollars for them. I'll have to watch Craigslist for a couple more pullets to even out my little flock.