How to Tell Apart a Rooster from a Hen

Rooster

Rooster

I don’t ever want to take for granted that you, my readers, know everything about living on a farm, including those things which I take for granted, like who lays the eggs—the hen or the rooster? Or is it the chicken?

Occasionally, we host family fun days on the farm and we sell whatever produce and meats we have available that day, so they’re usually scheduled around harvest times. Last fall, we hosted our biggest farm day yet and we’d posted all over social media about having fresh eggs for sale, but we warned everyone they were first come, first served, and no holds. Like we anticipated, people arrived in droves, lining up for fresh chicken eggs, produce, and grass-fed meats. We usually hear comical comments about where the food comes from as people wait in line. I don’t think they realize we can hear them talking or maybe they wouldn’t speak so freely.

eggs

One woman in particular waited impatiently for eggs, dancing back and forth, elbowing her way slowly up the line. It was finally her turn and she plopped her money down on the table in front of me.

“You’re not sold out, are you?” she gasped, letting out all the breath she must’ve been holding in. I looked at my friend next to me and then the dozens of eggs in front of me.

“No, we aren’t sold out yet.” I lifted a carton to show her.

Relieved, she laughed. “Oh good! I’ve been waiting to try these rooster eggs because I know they’re so rare!”

I didn’t correct her, just handed her the eggs and her change.

But I didn’t want any further confusion or speculation about where eggs come from so I’m just going to lay this out for you as clearly as I know how.

hen

God made the chickens. The term “chickens” is like “humans,” meaning it’s broad, covering both males and females. Chickens are domestic fowls, raised for their meat and eggs. Roosters are the male chickens and they don’t lay eggs. Ever. So yes, if you were to come across rooster eggs, they would indeed be rare. The female chickens are hens and they are the egg layers and egg hatchers.

The roosters aren’t completely useless though so please don’t leave here thinking they are! My Grandma says roosters are great for alarm clocks if you want to rise before the sun has ever thought about coming up. It’s true. At least for the rooster that has wandered over to her house every day for the past few months, it’s true.

I remember the girls’ first experience with chickens when they were toddlers. They’d helped their Papa build the chicken coop right behind the house and were so excited when we put the first chickens in there. Until a rooster jumped right on top of a hen. Their cries of alarm alerted Hubs and I to the activity in the coop and that was our first talk—or as much of a talk with toddlers as you can have—about the birds and the bees. Or rather, the hens and the roosters.

rooster2

So yes, the roosters are also good for fertilizing the eggs the hen lay which later are hatched into baby chicks. But they don’t lay the eggs. You can tell a rooster apart from a hen by his height, which is greater than a hen, his spurs–those pointy thorn-like things on the back of his feet which hurt like the dickens if he attacks you, or by his unusually large comb on top of his head. So there you have it.

That’s my story this Saturday and I’m stickin’ to it. 😉 I hope you’ve learned a little bit more about farm life, or at least the difference between chickens, hens, and roosters. And maybe this was even a life lesson for you—or at least a little laughter.

Have a wonderful weekend! Come back tomorrow afternoon and learn about our summer challenge here on the farm and how you can be a part of it!

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