Hen or Roo? The Game of PB

As I fed the chickens at dawn this morning, I heard a bugle call sound out from somewhere across the fields. It was quite poignant and I wished it would keep going. Today is Anzac Day, the day we remember all our countrymen who fought or were killed in war. I was preparing to commence another round of Hen or Roo? with the chicks when something happened. Yesterday morning there was a different bugle call. The call of Mr Collins. Yes, Mr Collins has announced himself. What sounded like a squeaky, strangled rodent was Mr Collins declaring himself to be a boy. I will not be eating my hat. The Husband even heard it from the dining room and came out to see who was making the weird noise. His curiosity is pleasing. I had wondered if either of the chicks would out themselves while Mr Bingley is out of the flock, in chicken hospital, but I didn’t think they were old enough yet. They are seven weeks old. Mr Bingley has been crowing loudly in response from the garage. Mr Collins might be in trouble if he keeps this up. “Just wait til your father gets home!”

Mr Collins has declared himself to be a boy. No surprises there.

In any case, this round of Hen or Roo? was all about PB anyway. I am currently highly undecided about whether PB is a boy, as I initially thought, or a girl. I thought I had a Mr Darcy on my hands but I might actually have a Charlotte running around with Mr Collins. Never mind the fact that Mary would be a better match for Mr Collins, as they are almost as silly as each other at the moment. Weirdly, Mr Collins has markedly toned down his cheeping and freaking out since his mother left them to their own devices at 6 1/2 weeks of age. He was such a needy feather child. Frodo must be relieved to have him off her back.

One small tangent before some more photos. Today we got five eggs for the first time. Five! With Frodo back to laying, all my laying hens laid today: Frodo, Lizzie, Lydia, Jane and Mary. We’re certainly not going to get five eggs every day with numbers trailing a little with the autumn season and moulting, but it is nice to know that there are five layers heading towards winter, so more chance of at least getting a few eggs over winter.

I can even tell you who the eggs belong to today, but some days it has become a mind-boggling challenge if I don’t see who’s in the nestboxes. Clockwise from bottom: Jane, Lydia, Mary, Frodo and Lizzie.

Right, back to the game. Here are some more photos of the chicks for you to peer at. PB is a purebred Australorp, while Mr Collins is, I suspect, 3/4 Australorp and 1/4 unknown, possibly Buff Sussex, like his parents, Mr Bingley and Lydia. Feel free to announce your guesses or suspicious of hen or roo for PB.  Today, my gut is saying hen, but that is subject to change…

Mr Collins (left) and PB (right). PB has a beautiful, fine head.
PB has a lot of fluff.
PB (back) ad Mr Collins (front).

Guesses? Thoughts? Wild imaginings?


20 thoughts on “Hen or Roo? The Game of PB

      1. Hehe yeah I figured that’s what you meant. I’ve found that neck feathers don’t really help speculation until they’re around 9 weeks of age when the really thin, long hackle feathers start showing on the boys. Some of the young girls have pointed neck feathers so that just confuses things! Oh, I just need to find something to distract myself with. The Vege Plan. Yes. Where to put the orange things?

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        1. Ah, back to the drawing board then (literally, lol). I’m not growing pumpkins at all this year so you’ll have to shade in some extra orange for me 😉 With roosters I’m trying to do the combo of: how upright is the stance, how thick are the legs, are the pintail feathers in early/late compared to siblings, early comb development, and the good old feathers at neck and saddle. Yep, you’re right, seven weeks is a bit early. I remember WillowCreekFarm saying nine weeks too. Then you see the curving tail feathers and sheen a bit later on…Given we’ve had so many roosters, I’m getting plenty of practice :). Good luck with PB!

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          1. Yes, you have had a lot of practice! I’m back to thinking roo again for PB, today anyway, although his/her comb still isn’t advancing much. Whatever he/she is, PB is going to be large and floofy! The floofiness of the feathers is what keeps throwing me, as my little roos typical don’t have a lot of soft, fluffy feathers compared to the girls, especially around the wings. The boys tend to have longer, harder wing feathers and less feathering on the back towards the tail. PB is throwing that out the window.

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  1. Oh, man! Difficult to call! Trying to compare them to each other here… I say… 80% chance of Roo. PB and Mr. C both have roughly the same thickness of legs (not always an indicator of anything, but sometimes hens legs are daintier. In some breeds.) and their body shape is still pretty similar. Also, I don’t see much in the way of pronounced saddle feathers YET in Mr. C. Granted, he’s only 6 weeks old? And has a lot of time to fill out into a handsome lad. Which means the same could be true of PB.

    Black Jack started crowing at 9 weeks, he was the earliest crower I’ve had. But he was a big boy to begin with and definitely maturing well before the Other Australorp Rooster in that bunch. The Other did not crow until close to 14 or 15 weeks, I think, which is a good month’s difference. He was also smaller and not as secure in himself.

    IF it turns out PB is a boy, he’s probably not as dominant as Mr. Collins.

    If PB turns out to be a hen, then she will probably be a big girl, like my Cinderella. Because judging from the pictures, there is not much size difference in them right now?

    So yeah… I’m give PB an 80% chance at Roo-ness. I think there is still time for him to be one. If he’s going to be.

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    1. It’s doing my head in trying to figure out what PB is! He/she is big and was always bigger than Mr Collins and has big feet. But then Mary was always big with big feet. But then she is 1/2 Barred Rock. I just can’t get past PB’s girly feathers at the moment… The interesting thing is that PB is currently dominating Mr Collins. That’s probably not a good thing if PB is a boy. Mr Collins is still ridiculously struggly. I’m scared for when his hormones really kick in. There are going to be some tricky things to figure out.

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      1. Well,hopefully Mr.Bingley will get better (he DID get better, right?) and be able to reign in his unruly son when the time comes. Dots gets lots of exercise chasing after Pip and Felix, but at least they all know their place.

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        1. Yes, he is back! I finally got time to write a post about it. I hope Mr Collins won’t be around long enough to have to be reigned in, but if he irritates Mr Bingley half as much as he irritates me, he’ll be sorry!

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          1. Oh dear! That doesn’t sound good! LOL. I feel the same way about Felix, honestly. I just haven’t decided if his fate is rehoming or Freezer Camp. There is an animal swap coming up in two weeks, and I might take him.

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          2. Has Felix been hard to handle too? I wouldn’t even consider rehoming Mr Collins because he’s been such a nutter from the beginning and he’s only getting worse. Serves me right for hatching Lydia eggs I guess!

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          3. He’s not mean but he’s such a … spaz. I will blame Ashley for raising them to be scaredy cats but he won’t let me get near him, runs away, freaks of I’m in the coop with him. His sister Perdie is flighty like that too. Pongo and Max are coming around and let me pet them. I may win Perdie over, but I don’t need a rooster I can’t handle. Shame because Felix is growing into a handsome boy.

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          4. That’s a shame, but I guess at least it’s got a lot to do with how Felix was raised by his feather mum. It does make me think more carefully about which other hens I might ever let raise chicks. But then there are aspects you just can’t predict until you’ve given the hen a crack at motherhood. Can you imagine Lydia as a mum? It would either be hilarious or disastrous, but I don’t think I’d go there.
            Anyway, Mr Collins has no excuse for his absurd behaviour. He was raised by an excellent mum and has a lovely hatch mate in PB, but was scared and skittish from day 1. Even when Frodo showed him it was ok to eat from my hand he shunned it and hid or just kept stuffing his face from the feeder. I suppose there’s just no reasoning with a rooster like that. Hens can come around sometimes though. Lydia used to be very fidgety, clawy and hard to handle but she’s easier to handle than Lizzie or Jane now. Maybe there’s hope for rehoming Felix if he’s not as bad as Mr Collins. Are you able to grab him out of the coop at night when it’s dark?

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          5. I’ve never tried after dark. I’m usually not there after I turn out the lights. Although, last night he settled in to sleep while we were candling and when Little Dude turned the lights back on he let me let him. I swear, I treat him no different than the others. They are all my babies, I talk to him the same, offer treats, pets etc. he just isn’t having it.

            I do have one incredibly anti-social Rhode Island Red, who while not mean or flighty, just does not like to petted or held. She’s standoffish. I let her do her own thing most of the time. I imagine Perdie will wind up like her if she matures out of being flighty/scared.

            But it does strengthen my resolve that Ash gets no more babies. Ever.

            I wonder if having babies would settle Lydia down? Give her something to focus her energies on? Claire used to peck me if I tried to pet her before she went broody, but now she like of likes me. Not in the same way as Maicey or Tweety but allows me to pet her and accepts handfed treats.

            Abby raises her chicks to be independent of me. But not scared. Well, Padme is a little scared still but she and Luke had the trauma of losing two siblings to whatever took them. But even then, she doesn’t freak the same way Felix and Perdie do.

            Felix’s fate is not decided, though, and as he is not a mean rooster, I have no outward reason to be rid of him. It’s a hard call.

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          6. Yeah, there’s just no reasoning with some chickens. Lydia is fine though. She’s not what I would call nutty. She’s dramatic and bossy sometimes, but she has settled down a lot from when she was younger and once she’s got ‘her’ nestbox she just lays efficiently and always has. She is smart and not skittish or weird, just full of bold character and she loves attention. I think being demoted from boss hen did wonders for her! Shot Mr Bingley! She’s one of the friendliest hens now, always coming up to me looking for treats or just seeing what I’m doing. She also recovered so well from her bumblefoot experience. This egg-eating though, is another story. I think it’s going to be hard to break her of the habit, with her personality, so I just don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s only tried on broodiness once, very, very briefly.

            I’m starting to get my head around making more ‘thoughtful’ and tough calls when it comes to my chickens, now that my flock isn’t in danger of extinction. The way I’m starting to look at it is, I have to assess the chicken, hen or rooster, as a whole: what do they bring to the flock? How useful are they? How healthy are they? How friendly are they? Do they have good breed standards/colour if applicable? All of these aspects could be passed on to their offspring if allowed to breed, including personality, which is why I would never keep or breed from Mr Collins. So, I suppose if Felix is scared and skittish as part of his personality, not just how he was raised, keeping him could pass on those personality traits to his offspring. But it’s hard to know if it’s one or the other yet and he may settle down. Yes, it is a tough call!

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          7. That’s a good question! Nature vs Nurture. Felix appears to be, based off coloring alone, part Buff Orpington. He looks similar enough in coloring to my nephew’s year old Buff Orp rooster, this is where I base that assertion.

            If Pip is the father, he is also part Rhode Island Red and the Sexlink.

            If Dots, he is part Sexlink alone.

            Dots is a gentle, loving bird who has let Little Dude pick him up and carry him around from a very young age. I have pictures of them together as young as 10 weeks. He adores being petted, getting neck rubs and wattle massages, and eats treats from your hand with a tenderness I don’t see in the rest of the flock.

            Pip doesn’t like to be held, but he allows me to pet him on the roost and accept treats. He stands still for wound assessment, listens when I talk to him, and has started to approach when I call his name.

            (Dots will also come when I call his name, and responds to it.)

            If I had to guess based off strictly the roosters, I wound say Pip as father, with Ashley’s ‘interesting’ mothering as a compounding factor.

            Egg-mothers are also limited to 2 potential hens. My sweet and love Tweety who used to sit on a feet as a chick, so I was forced to pick her up and give her attention. She doesn’t sit on my feet anymore, but she still follows me around when I’m there.

            And Rapunzel, who isn’t mean, but doesn’t really like getting attention. She accepts treats, and is the one who follows me down the barnyard to dump the mess I clean off the lot roosts and dropping boards every morning.

            Neither of them are mean or flighty, although ‘Punzel did shy away from me picking her as a chick/teenager.

            Based off personalities alone, I would guess Rapunzel as Egg-momma.

            But in all honesty, it could be either combination.

            The main reason I suggest Pip as father are because both Orpingtons are in ‘his’ group of ladies. And Rapunzel is one of his main girls. Her and Cinderella the Australorp.

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          8. Sounds like a good assessment! It’s a pity Dots’ awesome personality hasn’t rubbed off as much on his offspring but at least they aren’t mean. I think having a nice rooster means you get more nice or decent offspring, but there are always some meanies or weirdos that just pop out. It’s hard to believe that nutso Mr Collins has come from nice Mr Bingley, but he has thrown to his mum, Lydia’s personality, albeit a far more extreme version!


          9. Replying again because I didn’t actually finish before.

            I really should assess what Felix brings to the table, which right now, is not much that I don’t already get from Dots or Pip. If his skittishness could be calmed, he’s still a handsome bird.

            I am glad that Lydia has settled in as a hen. She did have a lot going on, and definitely the one on one time in the med pen helped to calm her. The one ‘blessing’ to come out of bumblefoot, I guess.

            The egg eating is a different story. You definitely couldn’t trust her with hatching, because she might eat them instead. I hope it can be broken.

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          10. It’s definitely harder to calm a rooster who isn’t calm to start with, especially as they get more and more raging hormones. What about Little Dude’s Barred Rocks? He might get a nice rooster from them… 😉

            Lydia is definitely off the broody list now, but I’m still struggling to get her to stop eating eggs. Thank goodness she’s doing it stealthily (not what I would have expected her to do) so the other’s haven’t caught on, but things are not looking good at this stage. 😦

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          11. I’m trying not to count those chicks before the hatch. The 4-H project is a gamble. We decided to make an extra experiment out of it and give half the eggs to Rapunzel and put the other half in the incubator. The experiment is to see “which is better, a live mother or the machine.” Rapunzel accepted her eggs gladly and is doing well. The incubator is tricksy. I spent the first whole day while Little Dude was in school trying to figure out the humidity. It was too high, then too low. I have it in an even range now but it needs to be checked every day. And the egg turner came off its track and I had to fix it. Right now, I’m betting on Rapunzel for the win and a better hatch rate.

            Felix is slated to go away in the next couple of days. Whenever my DH has time to take care of it. Right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said about thinking more about the needs of the flock versus what I ‘want’ and I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to go back to 2 roosters at least for now.

            The trouble is, that means one of the other three roosters also needs to go. Little Dude would hate me if it was Dots and the flock would probably too. Abby would never forgive me whacking her brother, either. I don’t think she’s forgiven that her chosen ‘boyfriend’ was one of the Rowdy Boys we butchered the first time. As she chooses not to mate with Dots or our other roosters (I’ve check her eggs, they are almost never fertile), I must assume she is pining for him, whomever he was. But Dots is her brother and she is protective of him.

            That leaves me to Pip and Luke and a pit in my stomach at trying to make the decision. I’ve spent a lot of time this week observing ALL of the roosters and how they relate to the hens, and also making lists of Pros and Cons.

            Felix has no pros. He’s directly relate to Dots & Pip and is so flighty yet that whatever personality he’d bring to the table would be bad.

            Pip has a good rapport with Dots. They work well as a team together. He also has a history of being Big Brother to all the chicks, taking over their care/protection and training after the mommas leave them to go back to Hen Things. He does this of his own accord, too.

            Luke is New Genetics, and a friendly personality. It might not seem like a lot of Pros but in all honesty, we need the new genetics, so they aren’t directly related.

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