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Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

Posted by kcchiefsfan 5b Indep MO (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 10, 09 at 16:11

Hi there! I don't guess I'm looking for an 'answer' but we have found this amusing.

An old hen (Black Star/Sex Link) has been for some time now been "crowing" in the mornings, tries to hop on other hens and calls to them to offer blades of grass or bugs! The crowing sounds like a young rooster, you know, the choking sort of sound but she is getting better at it.

We lost the rooster some time before she started these antics so assuming she is trying to take over the role or something like that.

She is the most beautiful of all the hens and has always pretty much been at the top of the pecking order. Has anyone else ever experienced a hen wanting to be a rooster?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

Yes, I have heard of hens crowing. I haven't had any who did, but it's not all that uncommon. Women's lib or some such thing. LOL.

RE: Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

For a big surprize hatch out some eggs.

Changing sex is possible in the wild.

Although it is easier in the lower forms of life.

Fish can do it. I am pretty sure chickens can do it sometimes. But it is probably fairly rare.

here is a comment off the internet confirming my thoughts.

Sex-changing animals
Actually the chicken can and does change sex, a well know fact among egg farms. The known occurences happen about every 1 in a 10,000. We have observed an egg-laying hen change into a crowing/breeding rooster. There are numerous explanations for this most having to do with the keeping the species going. But it is observed in egg-laying barns where no roosters have been present that a hen will change.

There are some animals that change sexes, but the chicken isn't one of them. I recall a marine biologist I once met telling me that all very large groupers -- the ones that weigh hundreds of pounds -- are females because only mature specimens can grow that large and all groupers change to females as they mature. It's called sequential hermaphroditism. When males turn into females, it's called protandry, and when it's the other way around, it's called protogyny. Only fish and some invertebrates demonstrate sequential hermaphroditism.

RE: Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

Sex change is vanishingly unlikely in chickens. Not all fish can change sex, in fact it is a very rare talent.

Sexual confusion is much more likely, Hens have all of the makings of roosters genetically (because birds are sexed ZZ for males and ZW for females, instead of the placental and marsupial mammalian XX and XY). What is likely is that some gene on the W chromosome related to adult female hormones is damaged and adult male hormones are being produced, it is unlikely that the ovaries will change to testes, as this is something that happens at about 11 days of incubation.

RE: Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

*L* Yeah, I've had several hens go strange on me. One a few years ago was a little black banty who would 'mate' some of the other hens, she also grew tiny, rubbery spurs. Her daughter also mates hens and has the same spurs. I've also got a little Belgian d'Uccle hen that recently began crowing, and several hens who call others for food.

All this time I've had two roosters who perform their roosterly duties all the time. So what is going on with the girls I can't tell ya, but it sure is funny! :)

In folklore, a crowing hen is a sign of bad luck and should be killed. Yikes!

Velvet ~:>

RE: Hen Identity Crisis (Hen-ster?)

Mostly amphibians, reptiles...but not birds. What you are probably seeing is a bird that has the sex organs of both sexes(hemorphidite). This is quite common in birds. Depending the stage of life the 'hidden' sex becomes dominant--due to hormone changes. These changes can be triggered by external environmental conditions (age,loss of all males and/or females). More commonly females side is dominate, but as the hen ages the male hormones increase, egg production lessens or ceases leading to the behavior you described.

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