How to Tell the Difference Between a Pullet & Cockerel

Written by theresa bartolo
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How to Tell the Difference Between a Pullet & Cockerel
A cockeral produces sperm throughout its entire life. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

During the first year of a chick's life it will be called a pullet if it's female and a cockerel if it's male. After one year the chick will be called a hen or a rooster based on gender. At birth a pullet and cockerel may look identical to each other, and neither will develop reproductive organs outside the body. To accurately determine a chick's gender, there are many physical characteristics that can easily be observed over time.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look at the tail. Both the cockerel and pullet have short rounded tail feathers, but the cockerel has saddle feathers. Saddle feathers start growing at the base near the tail feathers, and some go beyond the length of the tail feathers sticking upward into the air.

  2. 2

    Look at the comb and waddle. These will both be larger on a cockerel. The comb is skin on top of the head, and it will stand straight up on a cockerel and will flop down to the side on a pullet. The waddle is the skin below the beak that looks similar to a beard.

  3. 3

    Listen to the noises it makes. A pullet will make some clucking noises and squawks, but it doesn't crow. A cockerel will crow.

  4. 4

    View the colouring on the body and the wings. A cockerel has much more colouring in multicoloured breeds and has colourful wings and swaddles. The pullet will be mainly one colour without much detail or will have neutral colouring.

  5. 5

    See if the bird is laying an egg. Only a pullet is able to lay an egg, and it can start doing so at five months of age. Both a pullet and cockerel will reach their sexual maturity around this age.

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