Hen or Rooster…Surprise!
I wanted all hens but did I get a rooster by accident? What are the odds that someone who has done a ton of research on raising chickens missed the fact there is only a 90% guarantee you will receive exactly what you wanted. For some reason I was naive enough to think that if I ordered all hens that is exactly what I would get.
Bernadette was always the most curious and precocious of the chicks. She was also the chick I specifically didn’t order. When I placed my order with Meyers I asked them to add one extra chick of their choosing with the idea being that those eggs would be donated. This is actually a thing on their order form called “Meyer Meal Maker” and the chick is free. My chicks arrived and of course I just assumed they were all hens and went about naming them. The name Bernadette was perfect. She was bossy, unafraid and very cute. I knew she was the extra chick because her light yellow color did not match any of the breeds I had ordered.
Fast forward to 14 weeks. She is now one of the largest chickens. Being a new chicken owner I didn’t think anything about it. I looked her up in the chicken book. She looked like a White Plymouth Rock which I thought would be an excellent addition.
Not what she seemed
At 17 weeks she CROWED! What?? I was feeding the chickens as I always do in the morning and she let out a loud crow. She sounded a bit hoarse, but it was definitely a crow. I immediately went back to the house and started searching for “hens that crow”. Now it isn’t so crazy since there are articles on hens that crow. I found out that sometimes in a backyard flock if you don’t have a rooster the lead hen will sometimes start to crow. In really rare cases if one of her ovaries isn’t working properly she can actually start to produce testosterone and become even more rooster like. So, I thought that was the case and figured she may grow out of it once she started laying eggs.
The next morning as I was feeding “she” started mounting the hens. Ok, so now I am a little more concerned that maybe Bernadette is not who I think she is. I posted the question and her picture on the www.backyardchickens.com forum and waited to hear from the experts. It took about 5 minutes for a response. “Looks like a rooster.” “Notice the saddle feathers and how pointed they are.” “Good looking cockerel (word for a young rooster)”. I was shocked. Then I felt kind of dumb because it was so obvious..sort of. So Bernadette is now Bernie and is still head of the flock. I’m still getting used to calling him Bernie but now that I know, it is soooo obvious!
He is still sweet and will sit on my lap. He can also be really bossy. I pick him up when he gets to be a bit too bossy and that seems settles him down. I think he is a bit embarrassed when I pick him up. It just reminds him that I’m still the big boss. I’m looking forward to seeing how he grows up. He is very pretty and struts like the king.
Getting the news about Bernie was a surprise. To say that I was shocked to learn we had TWO roosters is an understatement.
Scarlette is my Golden Laced Wyandotte. She is very beautiful and one of my most striking chickens. Scarlette at 14 weeks. Notice she does not have a long tail and definitely doesn’t look like a rooster….yet.
I noticed she was also one of my larger chickens but didn’t really pay attention. First mistake. She is lower on the pecking order and a bit more standoffish. I did notice that she had a beautiful iridescent green tail (DUH!) that none of the other chickens had but still didn’t think much about it. It wasn’t until someone on the www.backyardchickens.com forum mentioned that the chicken standing behind Bernie in one of the pictures I had posted could also be a rooster. WHAT?! Ok, I took a closer look and compared her to the picture of a Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster. EXACT match!!
(you can see Bernie in the background)
Scarlette is now Scott and has just started to crow at 18 weeks. I have since done a very thorough exam of each of the other chickens. I can say that we do not have any more roosters! We love the crowing and can tell the difference between Bernie crowing and Scott crowing. They sound completely different. I will keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t fight. As it stands now, Scott seems to be ok being second. I will also need to keep an eye on the hens and make sure nobody gets injured with two roosters in the house.
They are all 19 weeks old so hoping for some eggs in the next couple of weeks. I will have to gather them up pronto so we don’t have any babies. At least for now.
I would love to hear your stories if you have had a similar surprise.