How to Tell a Hen or Quail From a Rooster

Updated February 21, 2017

If you are raising animals or hunting it is important that you know how to distinguish between different kinds of poultry. Chicken and quail are two birds that you may hunt or raise for eggs, so you need to know both how to distinguish between a male chicken or a female chicken, and how to distinguish between a chicken and a quail. A hen is a female chicken, while a rooster is a male chicken and a quail is a separate species of bird altogether that will look very different from both a rooster and hen as it grows.

Look for the physical characteristics of a chicken or a rooster. Males have larger bodies, red combs on their heads and gobbles under their necks. Hens do not have gobbles, they are smaller and their combs are also much smaller than that of a male chicken. In multicoloured birds, the male will have more of a colour variety in his chest plume than the female. Also, a male's tail feathers are usually longer and more pointed than those of a female.

Check the feet of the animal. One of the easiest ways to tell if a chicken is male or female is by the spurs on their feet, which are the protrusions of bone that stick out of the back of the legs. Male roosters that are sexually mature always have spurs, no matter what breed of chicken, while females do not. Also, roosters crow, while hens do not.

Use vent sexting. Vent sexting is the most scientific way to determine whether a chicken is a hen or rooster. It involves looking at a baby chicken's "vent" which is underneath the animal's tail. Inside the vent, if you can see a small, raised bump, then the chicken is a rooster. This is often difficult to do and requires the birds to be examined by an expert.

Look for quail characteristics. A quail may look like a chicken at birth and for the first few weeks of its life, but the differences between the species of birds will soon become very apparent. Quails have more distinguished markings on their wings and striped patters on their heads and backs. They are also much smaller than most breeds of chickens when fully grown.

Distinguish between a male quail and a female quail. Females usually weigh more than males do, have a less pronounced feather plume on the top of the head and are less colourful than males. They also make different sounds: males crow, while females chirp.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.