Which is which: How to tell if a chicken is male or female

Published June 19, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Vina Medenilla

Identifying the physical differences between mature male and female chickens can be a piece of cake, if you know what to look for. Here are some ways to tell them apart:

Image by Xuân Tuấn Anh Đặng from Pixabay.

Laying eggs

Hens only start laying eggs when they reach six months old, so this is something to observe on each chicken when they reach that period.

Combs and wattles

Chicken combs are the spiky crest that grows on top of the head of both hens and roosters. As cockerels (male chickens that are less than a year old) grow, their combs will be larger and more vivid than the pullets (female chickens that are less than a year old). The same goes for their wattles or the long red fleshy, soft skin under their chin or beak. Roosters have larger wattles than hens.  

Feathers

Hens have shorter and more circular feathers on their neck and other body parts compared to the roosters. Roosters always have long and pointed feathers on their tail and saddle (feathers at the back near their tail). This can be noticed, especially among three-month-old male chickens and above. 

Behavior

Aside from physical traits, chicken growers can also keep an eye on how their chickens behave to determine their gender. Roosters have higher endurance than hens. Hens tend to be more afraid, while male chickens are bossy, confident, and louder, especially when they are still young. 

Roosters are likely to fight each other, and when they do, they usually raise their hackle feathers. Male chickens are mostly the ones squawking in the morning, too.

Legs

Roosters and cockerels have wider legs than hens and pullets. When they reach their sixth month, the rooster’s spur (a long, spiky, sharp tip that grows on the chicken leg) is usually about one-third of an inch and this develops more than one inch long as they age. Their spurs serve as their defense. Hens sometimes develop spurs, but it is the roosters that frequently have them. Chicken spurs must be trimmed when necessary for safety.

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