Can you tell a rooster from a hen by its comb? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I noticed that some of the chickens have a bright red comb and some have a pale pink comb. The chicks are all 4 weeks old. Is this a way to tell roosters from hens? If not will I be able to tell an obvious differnce between rooster and hens by the time they are ready for butchering in another 4 to 8 weeks? I wanted to keep a rooster and a couple of hens so I could reproduce my own eatin' chickens.


-- anita (, September 18, 2001


anita, my pullets who got red combs very early did turn out to be roosters. But then some others turned out roosters, too. And some of my hens had extremely early comb development. Some of my pullets are quite womanly, with bright red combs, and I know those are the ones laying already. But about 1/4 of the flock still look like gawky adolesants.

-- daffodyllady (, September 18, 2001.

Anita, Whew! This is hard to explain and not use my hands(ha). Usually, the chicks showing the most comb development are roosters. You can also tell by the way they stand and walk. A rooster stands more erect, with a more up and down posture, a hen has more of a rocker on the rocking chair posture. If they get old enough, you will find that the roosters have points on the feathers on their necks, and on each side of their tails. the pullets will have much more rounded ends to the same feathers. It depends on the breed as to how soon they will show if they are roosters or pullets. Have fun and good luck

-- Karen in Kansas (, September 18, 2001.

If your chickens are the same breed, the ones with the darker, more prominent combs are probably your roosters. You will definitely be able to tell by the time you are ready to butcher.

-- mary (, September 18, 2001.

I have about 120 chickens, and I found that the cockerels developed in size a little earlier than the pullets. Out of the 96 Orpingtons we have, the 10 largest turned out to be cockerels, and of the 6 Ameraucaunas, the same thing was true of the two that are now very obviously males. They also developed combs earlier than the pullets. Most of them are just coming up on 4 months old now, but we also have seven that are getting to be 6 months old. At the moment, the only hen that seems to be laying is one of the 2 RIR chicks we got the Friday before Easter (the one my son calls Birdbrain), and boy does she ever cluck and cackle while she's picking out the nest box she wants.

-- Claudia Glass (, September 18, 2001.

Another way I've been told to tell is clap loudly and the hens will duck and the roosters will "pop up" but I ususally go for the early cone development for them being roosters first.

-- Jen in NZ (, September 20, 2001.

LOL - Jen, clapping only works if you don't use it to herd the flock in at night. I clap, and they all run for the door. Besides, we had too many of the same color to do that. A banty breeder I know told me if you hold them VERY GENTLY by the side of the jaws and let them dangle (the gentle part keeps you from breaking their neck when you do this), the pullets will kick for a couple of minutes and then calm, but the cockerels will keep kicking (or was it the other way around?). I've never had the nerve to try that one. Usually by the time the birds reach 5 to 7 weeks of age, the difference in size and the development and coloring of the combs and wattles is enough to spot the cockerels. Also, my pullets picked the living dickens out of the cockerels to the point they all had partially naked backs and tails in varying degrees, and we wound up segregating them into separate living quarters.

-- Claudia Glass (, September 21, 2001.

Not always, at least not very clearly. I would never have know by looking at the comb of one of chickens that he was actually a rooster. I realized it when his very beautiful feathers came in. His comb looked just like my other hens. It looks though, that you've already got your answer from one of the many folks on here who have more experience at this than I do. =)

-- c.d. in TX (, September 22, 2001.

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