To be a She, or Not to be?

One of the newest members of my flock has kept me guessing. Again. After the rollercoaster PB/Jane B game of Hen or Roo? I found myself in the unsettling Lorelei game of Hen or Roo? Lorelei is my young silver laced Wyandotte and the friendliest of my chickens. For a while there I was worried that she might be a little cockerel. She was very slow to feather up at the back end, which is often a male thing. However, her comb and wattles remained small and pale and the lack of pointy saddle or hackle feathers gave me hope that she would be a girl after all. She is now somewhere around 16 weeks old and is looking decidedly hen-like. Hooray! Lorelai and Sookie are my snuggle chickens, when I can grab them, and they are very good buddies so I would have hated to separate them. Jane B still doesn’t trust me out in the pen since her buddy Mr Collins disappeared, but I think she was pretty stoked with me when I threw lots of slaters to her today.

It looks like Lorelai is a girl after all. Yuss! Her lacing is a pretty poor example for the breed but she is my snuggle chicken.

We went away for four days for a family holiday, returning last night. I am always nervous about leaving the chickens. Just before we went away I made a new gate for the chicken pen. Before this we had a solid plywood pallet attached by a rope, that was heavy and awkward to maneuver open and shut. I think that’s how I got a bung shoulder. Also, Mr Bingley escaped over the gate more than once after discovering that he could do so while trying to rescue Kitty from Chicken Hospital. The gate I had there before the temporary pallet, I had moved alongside the carport as a second gate for The Cedar Pen.

I could not have Mr Bingley escaping while we were away so I made this wire gate with wooden sides. Chickens are far less likely to escape over a wire barrier as there’s nothing to fly up to and rest their feet on. It would be stronger if it had wood along the bottom but we will see how it goes. I changed the hinging side to the garage corner by hammering a piece of wood into the ground so that the gate can be used in two positions: where it is in the picture below when the chickens are in The Orchard Pen and closer to the pear tree between the garage and the corner of the woodshed when the chickens are in The Cedar Pen, so that they can’t access The Orchard Pen. One gate with the purpose of two! I still need to work out some proper latching, but my quick-fix latch is holding for now.

Chicken gate
The new chicken gate. There isn’t supposed to be a fur child in there, but if she’s meowing because she can’t get out, the gate’s got to be good, right?
Mr Bingley
Mr Bingley did not escape while we were away!
Lizzie and Kitty
All chickens were still alive when I got home. Lizzie and Kitty are here.
Cow watching chickens
The chickens have some new companions over the fence. They like to hang around the fence when the steers are eating along the fence line, looking for bugs that get disturbed in the grazing process. As soon as the chickens see me they run over though, so I can’t get a photo of their groupiness.

I am now working on something exciting for the chickens and me. How can I get the chickens to help with the composting process? Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “To be a She, or Not to be?

  1. Looking at your Wyandottes, I have hopes that the Columbian Wyandotte we hatched will be a hen. They are 6 six weeks today and her comb and wattles were giving me fits, too, but she looks similar enough to your girls that I will continue to think she is a hen. She is big, fluffy and gentle natured. Also one of the first to feather out and I think you have a point about the roosters being slower to feather out. I have noticed that before.

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    1. You just reminded me I forgot to get back to commenting on your post. I’m still thinking girl for your Wyandotte, but they obviously can be tricky. I had breeders say Lorelai was both when she was a bit younger. There is obviously quite a bit of variation in genes as to how they develop. Sookie, the gold laced girl, always had a slightly bigger comb and wattles than Lorelai, and Sookie was an obvious girl when I got her, but I really do put more weight on feather development than anything else now. There is a diagram I will find, which is for another breed, but it shows some key gender differences in feather development in chicks. Looking back, I find it holds true to my Australorps, and I had already noted a difference in the growth of back feathers in Jane B compared to the boys – I just didn’t fully trust my gut because she was so boy-like in other ways! I don’t think it works so well for barred Rocks, who seem to be slow to feather up, and maybe some other breeds. I didn’t have the Wyandottes at a young enough age to know whether the diagram would help. Anyway, I shall find it!

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      1. Ok, finally found the picture! Hopefully this link works… It seems like 10-14 days old is the best time to tell if a chick is going to be male or female. This is what I had in my head when I was playing Hen or Roo? with your chicks, although it’s hard to guess off one or two photos. 😉 Hope this is helpful for some of your feather children!


      2. The Rocks do seem to feather out slowly. Cutie and Grumpy are still covered in little splotches on their backs, while Rocky (newly renamed Roxie, provided she is a girl) feathered out before them, but still, those three Rocks were the last to feather out. I am getting ready for anew post on them, because tonight we are integrating them with their flock.

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