How to tell a chicken from a rooster

Sharing is caring!

If you are new to chickens, there are some things you may not know, such as how to tell a chicken from a rooster. Actually, this can be tricky even for folks who have been raising chickens for years, especially in the beginning.

Know the difference when raising chickens so you get more eggs from day one.

how to tell a chicken from a rooster

Are you new to raising chickens and wondering whether you have a rooster or a hen? Sexing chickens can be a tricky process, especially when they are young chicks. Luckily there are a few things to look for as your chicks are growing to better help you determine if your new chicken is a boy or a girl.

There are key differences between a rooster and a hen, mainly in their behavior as well as their appearance. Knowing each will help you to identify which are hens and which ones are roosters in your flock.

Why do you want a rooster in your flock?

Roosters are a great addition to any flock—the main reason is their ability to protect the hens. Our rooster has kept our flock safe on many occasions chasing off predators, keeping hens close to the coop, and sounding an alarm when harm is near.

Another reason to have a rooster is if you plan to hatch out your eggs for more chicks to keep or sell.

a golden rooster standing near a hen that is eating from a bowl

The Obvious Differences Between a Rooster and a Hen

  1. The most obvious way to tell if you have a rooster or a hen is by the crowing. Roosters are the only ones who can make these loud calls, which they often do early in the morning to let everyone know it’s time to wake up. In addition to crowing, roosters are generally larger and more colorful than hens.
  2. The next difference is with their tail feathers which are longer, plume-like, and flamboyant.
  3. Finally, a rooster’s combs, wattles, and earlobes are often more pronounced.

At watch age, do roosters start crowing?

Depending on the breed, the time frame can vary slightly. I have found that around 3-6 months is the time when roosters start trying to crow. At first, it will sound like a scratchy squeak, but soon they will get more pronounced with their call.

At What Age Can You Sex a Chicken?

It can be difficult to tell the gender of a chicken when they are young, but typically by about 6-8 weeks of age, you should be able to see some clear differences between roosters and hens. At this age, roosters will start to develop larger combs and wattles than hens. You might also notice roosters starting to grow spurs on their legs, which is another telltale sign of their gender.

a close up of a golden chick

How Rooster Feathers Are Different from Hen Feathers

Roosters have a different feather pattern than hens, with longer, more vibrant feathers throughout. The tail feathers on a rooster are also longer and more distinct than those of a hen. Additionally, the hackle feathers that are located on the neck and back of a rooster are often colorful and iridescent, whereas the same feathers on a hen are usually duller in color and less impressive.

a rooster standing near hens that are eating scratch from the ground

What are hackle feathers?

Hackle feathers are the feathers located on the neck and back of a hen and rooster. These feathers tend to be longer, pointy, and more prominent on a rooster helping to identify them more clearly.

How Combs and Wattles are Different in Roosters and Hens

Another way to tell if you have a rooster or a hen is by looking at their combs and wattles. The comb is the fleshy growth on top of a chicken’s head, while the wattles are the fleshy parts under the beak. Roosters have larger combs and wattles than hens, and these fleshy growths are often more reddish in color.

a rooster standing in a group of hens (1)

Sexing chickens can be a bit tricky, but with a bit of practice, you can quickly learn to tell the difference between a rooster and a hen. Remember, the obvious differences include crowing and size, while gender can be determined by looking at feathers, comb, and wattles. Now that you know how to tell a chicken from a rooster, you can confidently identify the gender of your flock so you can keep more hens for more eggs.

More Chicken Care Resources:

Click here to subscribe

chicks are a yellowish color.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.