Friday, October 9, 2009

Hermaphrodite Chicken

Hermaphrodite Welsummer Pullet

It appears as though we have a hermaphrodite chicken. The Welsummer chicks can be sexed at a day old and we were certain this chick was a pullet (female chicken under a year old). As she grew it was obvious that she was definitely a pullet. About a month ago we had a friend over who is our local chicken expert and she noticed immediately. The first sign was the rooster feathers and upon closer inspection she is growing a comb and is getting the head feathers of a rooster as well. I was bummed because we were down to two Welsummer pullets, and I am more excited about the eggs out of this breed than any of the others.

another view

Fortunately, my chicken expert friend has several Welsummer Pullets and I was able to buy two more from her. So, once again I am up to three, and hoping I don't lose any more. I looked up a bit about hermaphrodite chickens. I believe that this one started life as a pullet. In the last couple months she injured one of her ovaries and her body began producing more testosterone. I don't think she will ever lay any eggs. Should be interesting to see how closely she resembles our other Welsummer rooster.

Welsummer cockeral and pullet

I've shared this photo before but here it is again. You can click on the pictures to see a close up. This is a regular Welsummer cockeral and pullet. You can see how the chicken in the top photos looks like the pullet but is beginning to look like the cockeral.


Gail said...

I stumbled upon your article after doing some research on the internet. It appears that I have a hermaphodite turkey. Toni (I guess we can just spell "her" name differently now) started as -- I guess -- as a hen. She was hatched in June and was one of a trio of rare breed. I lost 2 to dogs -- so was excited to still have a hen. See the luck I have!

In November I noticed that she was a whole lot larger and she started trying to strut once again. She did so as a week old poult -- thru 12 weeks -- but did stop. One of the toms on the farm has mounted her. However, in the last month she fans her tail and has now grown a snoot -- not as long -- but definately there. I thought I was crazy!

Starla of the Foul Flock said...

I had a similar experience with my pet rooster Velociraptor. He grew up with feminine features but ended up a roo in the end... Happily chasing feather duster.

Still Kick'en said...

Found your blog when I was doing a google search on this subject. I have a weird hermaphrodite chicken too.
It seemed to have been a female and even began experimenting with making nests like its sisters were doing at about ages 5-7 months.
Then suddenly it quickly started crowing and growing spurs,big combs and big wattles.
The roosters used to mate it but once it began turning male they stopped and it began mating the hens.
Its presence dont seem to make the other roosters feel threatened because they dont fight it off like they do the other roosters. I think that is because they know this chicken is infertile.
Makes for some interresting conversations at least. LOL.

christin b said...

I know this may be stretch but I wonder if this could be more common now because we feed them so much soy? I would think it would be the other way around but for sure mess with hormones.
The phytoestrogens in soy disrupt endocrine function.

christin b said...

Adding this so I can follow this thread...

Anonymous said...

I have a strange Cochin. When she was young, she had three fluffy stripes and, when fully feathered, her saddle and hackle feathers were very round, signaling a pullet. Now, her feathers are pointy and she crows in the morning, but otherwise behaves like a hen. The young roosters we have are more aggressive than she is -- they peck and try mounting the pack's only hen, but Triple fights her friends and chases the roosters away. She dustbathes too. Roosters don't dustbathe. Hens don't crow. Triple also only ever crows at 6-7 o'clock in the morning, and answers the white half-Bantam, Iyra. The first time she did it, I thought she was mimicking the cockerels, only chicks then, but now she sounds like a fully-grown Cochin rooster. She doesn't struggle when I hold her, and she doesn't have any spurs, (the two half-Bantam cockerels already have small spurs), but she really sounds rooster-y all of a sudden. I think she is a true hermaphrodite chicken. I'm curious to see if we will have four eggs or five per day When Triple and her three best friends grow up.

Anonymous said...

I also came upon your blog after researching hermaphrodite chickens.

I bought a couple laying hens to get some eggs now, while I wait for my girls to start laying...

I got them, noticed one leghorn "girl" looked just like one of my leghorn roosters. I notice it was pretty beat up before, but there seemed to be a fresh cut (i'm assuming from one of my roos.) So I moved it to a crate while I waited to get a replacement, I wasn't thrilled I got a rooster when I asked for a laying hen and he came to me looking like crap... Well low and behold I got an egg.

I really thought it was a rooster, I'm still convinced it's a hermaphrodite... I don't know whether to be weirded out or in awe. I'm mostly annoyed someone charged me $10 for it... At least I got an egg. So I'm keeping it and going from there. As long as the other hens aren't bothered by it, I don't see the problem with keeping it.

I'm in the process of figuring out if the eggs are still edible/safe. Can it be bred or breed a hen? (don't really need that in my bloodline...)

The roosters want to attack it, the hens don't care it's in the same airspace but totally ignores it.

Fun times. I haven't noticed the hens beating he/she up, and I moved all but one rooster from the pasture/coop who seems to be nice, but uninterested in it. So at least peace is back in the coop for now.

Dovertas said...

Gay Chicken?
We have four hens that we bred last summer, three are lovely little girls and one has grown up to be more like her dad than her mum! She is twice the size of the others with no obvious male characteristics up till now. She was spotted the other day standing on a box and crowing loudly! She also does the 'food call' that the males do, letting the other girls know when she has found some food. It's weird! She isn't as heavily built as her dad and has quite feminine lines, but she is very tall!

Anonymous said...

We have a very unusual cross breed bantam called Capat-Su. She has always been dominant over the girls and although she was sold to us as a pullet, the children and I have always referred to her as a "him" . She lays huge green eggs but treads her sisters. We recently looked after a cockerel and she savaged him. She has a slim build with spurs and an extra toe. As we don't want a cockerel due to the noise but what are the chances of her being able to fertilise eggs? Awfully sorry for the foolish nature of the question but I have kept pet chickens since the age of 7 and have never experienced such an odd bird!!

Emily said...

Sounds like you have a dominant hen. But as she lays eggs she is certainly a hen and I don't think there is any chance of her being able to fertilize eggs. I don't think hermaphrodite chickens either fertilize eggs or lay them - so in my book they are duds. Obviously I'm no expert, so this is just my opinion.