My family and I once raised three beautiful Araucanian chickens. At the time they were just chicks, so we didn’t know what we were getting until they hit adolescence. It was then that we realized we had chosen two hens and one big rooster, whom my sister dubbed Pierre. As the days progressed, Pierre got larger and mightier, and he would sing his “cockadoodloo” songs all the time, (despite what some people think, he crowed whenever he wanted, not just at dawn).
We had our chickens for a while, learning their personalities, and coming to realize that even though these birds were supposed to be “dumb,” our chickens were actually quite smart. It was pretty funny, too, to see that the hens acted a lot more like our puppies than they did any sort of bird, jumping up for food and following me around like the dogs, sometimes even sleeping on my lap.
Anyway, after a few years since we had first introduced the trio of birds to our house, something horrible happened. It began early in the morning when it was still dark, and our dogs woke us up with petrified barking. We let them out of course, and they raced to the chicken coop, scaring away the raccoon that had taken Pierre’s life. It was a very unfortunate event, to say the least. Normally no raccoon, weasel, or anything for that matter-other than a human-would have been able to unlock the door that was always shut at night with all three chickens tucked safe away within the confines of the coop. But, earlier that night, there had been something wrong with the latch. Because we could still actually shut and lock it, we figured nothing would happen, and we could fix it in the morning. Unfortunately, we found ourselves doing just that after Pierre’s burial.
Long story short, after Pierre had passed away, leaving the two hens, Mickey and Feathers. The girls actually got along just fine, it seemed; however, there did come a strange incident when we noticed how large Mickey was getting after a couple of weeks. Eventually she even began to crow, and if we showed herself her image in the mirror and she began to attack it, something only Pierre used to do. She even began to mount Feathers, which was extremely disturbing since Feathers was her sister. But, Feathers didn’t seem to mind, and Mickey, though her comb had enlarged and her tail feathers had grown, was still very healthy. In the end she stopped laying eggs, and we knew we had a “hooster” on our hands … or a “ren,” either one works.
A few months after that, Feathers, too, had attempted to morph into a male herself, though I don’t think she liked it as much as her sister-or brother. Maybe it was because she wasn’t getting those rather awkward sounding crows right, at least not the way Mickey had picked them up after Pierre had died. So after determining she liked being female better (at least, that’s all I can come up with) Feathers stayed put as a hen.
Now, this might be an unusual story, but it’s true. And, years later, I still think of these strange incidents all the time. In fact, more recently, I had done some research, and discovered that similar events have happened to other people’s chickens as well, including owner Gill Whiteley (Daily Mail UK) and her Black Rock chicken, and Jo Richard’s with his Silver Laced Wyandotte (The Good Reverend). The amazing part about it, is that the odds of a hen turning into a rooster-according to expert of Great Britain’s Poultry Club, Victoria Roberts-is one in 10,000. Usually it occurs when there’s a damaged ovary in the hen, thus resulting in a rise in testosterone. My reasoning was that our hens just missed male company, of course I’m not a poultry expert. Either way, it’s kind of weird because, given how rare it is, my family and I witnessed it not once, but … well, maybe not twice, but almost twice. Could “one and a half times” count?
Daily Mail UK (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1080049/Pictured-The-sex-swap-chicken-called-Georgina-turned-cockerel-named-George.html)
The Good Reveerend (www.thegoodreverend.blogspot.com)