When you get baby chicks, they might tell you whether they will become hens or roosters. However, they aren’t always correct. You can’t tell the difference with a baby chick. Some people say that a male chick starts to grow his comb at about a week of age, but this isn’t the most reliable method. Chickens are fully mature at 18 to 20 weeks of age, and it is much easier to tell at this time. If it lays eggs, it’s a hen. If it doesn’t, it’s a rooster. Take a look at some ways to tell if it is a rooster earlier on.
Examine its Feathers
A rooster and a hen have different feathers on their body as they mature. The feathers begin growing in as they develop. Around the neck, roosters have pointed hackle feathers that flow down similar to hair. In the middle of their bodies, they will have a waterfall of saddle feathers. These feathers are long and narrow, and they point down. They start growing in between eight and 10 weeks, but they will be completely visible at 12 weeks. Often these feathers are a different color from the rest of the body.
Look at the Shape of the Tail
Many roosters have Sickle feathers on their tails. These are long, sweeping, arched tail feathers. The hen’s tail has a blunt ending, but the rooster’s is elegant. Often when roosters fight with one another, the tail takes most of the abuse. In spite of that, you will be able to tell whether a chicken is a rooster by looking at the tail.
When the rooster is still a chick, the tail starts to grow in. The feathers are pointy and grow in an upward direction.
Look at the Comb, Look for Spurs, and Listen to its Voice
This is one of the least reliable methods because chickens all have different combs. However, roosters generally have red in their combs sooner than hens. This can be a difficult method if you have more than one type of chicken in your flock. However, if you have only one breed, the roosters will probably turn red sooner than the hens.
Roosters also have spurs on the back of their legs. All chicks will have a bump where the spur will grow in, and, unfortunately, some hens will get spurs too. The spurs don’t grow in until age three to eight months, so you will have more reliable methods available before you need to use this one.
When chickens are babies, they all make the same peeing sound. However, as they grow up, their voices change. Hens tend to cackle, but roosters start to crow. This voice change happens when they are around four months old. If it gives you a cockadoodledoo, it is likely a rooster.
People often get chickens because they want the eggs. If you have roosters and hens, you can have more. If you leave them together, they will mate. Roosters have been known to be aggressive, but they can also be very sweet. You really won’t know until you have had him for a while.
The best way to determine if your chicken is a rooster is by looking at the feathers as they come in. Your roosters will have long feathers at the neck and in the center of their bodies that almost resemble hair. The tail will be tall and curved, and it is quite pretty. Hens have normal bird feathers, and the tail is stubby.
You can try to use the comb and the spurs to find out, but you will need to pay close attention. If you have different breeds together, this becomes a very unreliable test. The spurs take too long to come in, and your rooster will be crowing before you need that test. If you hear it crow, you will know it is a rooster.