Don’t be surprised if your hen becomes a cockerel
QCan a hen turn into a cockerel? One of my hens has begun behaving strangely. She is making a weird noise that sounds as if she is trying to crow and sometimes she jumps on the other hens. She has also stopped laying. Could she be ill? She looks healthy, but I’ve never seen behaviour like this before.
AMichelle Dunn says: Weirdly enough, the answer to this is yes: a hen can turn into a cockerel. This can happen in one of two ways. The first is just a behavioural change. The boss hen in a flock with no cockerel may begin behaving like a cockerel, right down to trying to crow and attempting to mate with the other hens. No physical change is involved, though, and if a true cockerel is introduced she will soon return to her normal hen behaviour. The second way is far stranger and involves an actual physical change in the hen. Hens only have one functioning ovary and if this becomes damaged then the second, non-functioning ovary can start to produce male as well as female hormones. Physically, the hen becomes a male. She crows, she develops spurs, she stops laying and she grows a bigger comb and wattles. Genetically she is still a female and cannot fertilise eggs, but to look at she appears to be (and behaves like) a cockerel. The change is irreversible. This condition is very rare, but it has happened once in my flock. The hen/ cockerel lived for several years and seemed perfectly happy. The only problem will be if your neighbours don’t appreciate the crowing.
A hen can turn into a cockerel. This can be as a behavioural change or, more unusually, as an actual physical change