Sunday, May 8, 2011

Just when you got it all figured out...

Last week, I went to the trouble of naming all the chicks that I believe to be hens.  Of all the hens, Rita (Americauna #3) was my sure-fire, mass-production egg-laying superstar of the future however............. tonight I noticed the small bumps on the inside of her legs looks to be growing.  They are still only stubs but definitely larger than before.  And even feel kinda sharp.  Uh-oh!!
So I punched up Google and queried "how to identify a rooster".  I've read most of these tips before but maybe if I reread them one more time, something will pop out at me.  Here are a few of them.
1. Generally by 5 weeks you will really notice slight differences in comb size - males will have slightly larger combs, length of the legs, size of the feet - males will have slightly longer legs and larger feet, and presence of saddle feathers - only the male will have pointed saddle feathers, hens are rounded.
2. Note their feathers, as roosters and hens of the same breed will look different -- roosters usually have more color on their wings and tail feathers than same-breed hens. Roosters also have more impressive tail feathers than the girls.
3. Check out the poultry physique -- roosters have longer necks and larger bodies than the hens. Their legs are stockier and longer as well.
4. Listen for the tell-tale crowing characteristic of male chickens. The females may cackle after laying eggs, or cluck throughout the day, but only the rooster crows.

Notice how none of the tips mention the spurs that grow on a rooster's legs.  One of the Tractor Supply employees mentioned we should look for these to grow at approx 6-8 wks of age.  Here's a photo of a nice sized rooster spur I found on the Backyard Chicken website (http://www.backyardchickens.com/). Yowsers! That looks painful!
Well, now that we all know the tell-tale signs, maybe you can help me identify which of my chicks are little Roo's. In case you're wondering why I'm going to so much trouble to identify the roo's, our borough allows us to have only 6 hens.  No roosters. 
Americauna #1 - Buffy is our athlete.  She likes to sit on top of everything & flies quite well.  She is difficult to catch & even more difficult to hold.  She knows how to puff herself up for a picture too.  Hmm...so roosters have more color on their wings huh...
Americauna #2 - Bigger comb = check. I can't really say that any other characteristics are jumping out at me anymore though. Watch this be our only hen after I've been suspecting rooster all along.
Americauna #3 - My prized Rita, complete with leg bumps (future spurs?). Notice the larger body....and I thought that was a sign of a hen!  Geez!
Golden Comet - Nugget is one laid back chick.  Not very noisy.  Doesn't object to being held.  Easy to photograph.  Not a gang leader.  Just follows the other smaller chicks around.  She is a sex-linked color breed so we're relieved to know we have at least one female chick.
Mottled Cochin Bantam - Is it true that a chicken's head doesn't grow after hatching?  Just kidding.  I made that up but I am hoping her head grows.  She looks so dis-proportioned.  We didn't buy Bleu for her egg laying abilities so if she turns out to be a rooster, it will only be disappointing in terms of her personality.  She's also very laid back and mellow.  Probably the easiest to catch of the whole flock.
Partridge Cochin - Can't help but suspect rooster here too.  Long neck = check.  Long legs = check.  Bad attitude = check.  But since all my rooster-identifying skills are being called into question, I don't know anything for sure anymore.  All bets are off!  I probably have a flock of ducks here for all I know.
Light Brahma - Chilly's neck is a bit suspect, don't you think?  She continues to be both my boys' favorite chick.  Even my wife likes this chick.  She's so friendly and likes to run after us.  Please don't be a rooster, please don't be a rooster, please don't be a rooster!
Latest & Greatest:  Well, this news isn't anything all that special but last night, our 3 large Americauna chicks decided they were old enough to sleep in Lizzy's side of the coop.  I have a heat lamp on their side but they abandoned it and roosted over Lizzy's nest.  One of them even bunked with Lizzy.  If you look at the top right of the photo, you can see the hole where the chicks can hop over to the other side of the coop.  I'm happy about this move because that allows me to move the youngins into the coop with the heat lamp.  The window pane behind Lizzy is missing which is where the chicks go out into the pen.
Stay tuned for the next update!

2 comments:

  1. Well it's a little late to say now but I'll give ya a heads-up, if you plan to raise Easter Eggers again (what some call "americaunas") they're really easy to sex at the age shown there not by spurs (hens can have spurs too) but by color. Easter Egger roosters commonly come with certain colors hens can't have.

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  2. Mu LOVELY hen it's named Rita too. Nice article ;)

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