My Hen Identifies as a Rooster
Last October, Uncle Joe gifted us a rooster and three hens. Uncle Joe homesteads in New Mexico. He's an interesting character...a bit of a recluse who makes his living through handyman trades and bartering. He's always up for a good trade and generally has a variety of farm animals on hand on any given day. During an October visit, Law commented on the small flock of young chickens he was housing. Now I'm not saying that Law is his favorite nephew but...Law is his favorite nephew. Uncle Joe had bartered for the flock a few days earlier. He was planning for a good meal out of them once they had grown some. However, he very generously gifted them to us after seeing Law's interest. The next day, Law drove them home to me. He wasn't expecting to bring animals home so of course he wasn't equipped for it. Law and Uncle Joe therefore devised a makeshift cage with some scrap pieces and loaded the flock into Law's truck bed (enclosed with a hard cap). They traveled for hours in the back of the bed with some hay, feed, and water.
I loved them instantly and of course named everyone on sight. The black and white was a quiet and dainty little thing so she became Delilah. She seemed to be the youngest of the flock with her soft peeps and her tendency to hide by the others. Of the three females, she was the most demure. As weeks passed, I noticed that she had an especially close connection with the rooster. I envisioned Delilah, with her gentle demeanor, as a nurturing mother. As months went by however, I noticed that our rooster never mounted her, although he kept in very close proximity to her. At the time, I just assumed that she was still too young for that kind of business.
We were so excited once our girls began laying! One hen consistently lays once a day while the other generally lays once every other day. Again, I didn't think much when Delilah didn't lay because in my mind she was the youngest and would eventually catch up. Then one morning I awoke to hear a shaky and raspy sounding crow. My initial thought was that something was wrong with our rooster. My mama had heard it too and mentioned that our rooster's crow was changing. I went and checked on him. He seemed fine sitting on his roost along side Delilah, welcoming the day. I checked on him regularly over the next few days.
It was the darnedest thing. I would hear him crow one minute and it was pristine. Then he'd follow with a strange gargled crow. Well, as we later found out...that raspy crow belonged to my sweet little Delilah. I was confused to say the least but there she was right next to our rooster, crowing at the top of her lungs. He would crow and she would imitate. During the following month, Delilah began transforming into her current rooster identity. She began growing a more pronounced comb, a longer wattle, and impressive tail feathers. Her behavior also transformed. She became highly aggressive towards one of the females and started to mount her tirelessly. We have to keep them completely separated.
She now displays both hen and rooster behaviors. She eats like a hen as our rooster stands guard over his flock. She sits in her nest at night like a hen but does not produce eggs. She still makes quiet peep noises. But she also imitates EVERYTHING our rooster does, like a game of copycat. She worked on her crow repeatedly until finally getting it right. I have to say, her hard work paid off because she sounds pretty good now. Initially, I had been worried about her place in the flock. I was concerned that she would have no true purpose as part of our homestead...she doesn't lay eggs and there is no need for another rooster. However, I realized something recently after observing the flock. Her purpose is to be our rooster's companion. They are completely inseparable. They spend their days roosting and crowing and walking around together. They are the best of buddies. So Delilah is now Deliloh. She's not meant to lay eggs. Her purpose is greater than that. She aspires to be a great friend!
Check us out on Twitter @yvonneintexas to view a brief video of Deliloh crowing!