How to tell the difference between a hen & rooster

Written by b.t. alo
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How to tell the difference between a hen & rooster
A hen and a rooster sitting on a fence (chickens image by weim from

There are hundreds of breeds of chickens, and in each breed, the hens and roosters usually look very different. Even a young hen, called a pullet, and a young rooster, called a cockerel, will be easily distinguished as either male or female. As with many animal and bird species, the male is showier, larger and makes more noise.

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  1. 1

    Determine the breed of your chicken. If you can find pictures of hens and roosters of that particular breed, you will find it easier to determine the sex.

  2. 2

    Look at the tail feathers. Hens tend to have shorter, stiffer tail feathers, while roosters have longer tail feathers that arch into a big plumage.

  3. 3

    Check the size of the comb. A rooster generally has a large comb on top of his head, and a wattle hanging below the beak. Hens have smaller combs, which sit close to the head, or even no pronounced comb at all.

  4. 4

    Notice the neck feathers. A rooster's neck feathers are usually long, and he will puff them out when provoked. A hen's neck feathers are typically short and sit close to the neck in a smooth line.

  5. 5

    Listen to the birds. Roosters crow loudly, especially at dawn and dusk. Hens make 'clucking' noises.

  6. 6

    Check the nest. If you have a hen, chances are good there will be some eggs in the nesting area, especially if she is over 6 months old.

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