The case of the crowing hens

No sooner do I think all’s quiet on the poultry front than something breaks the silence. This time it’s not the delightful, if at times rowdy, rabble of hybrids down the end of the garden, nor is it the cockerel who recently shacked up with them, or Phyllis/Phillip the pheasant (who’s flying round her/his run very nicely now by the way) but the adorable – and generally mousey-quiet – Araucana girls.

Audrey, the curently-not-so-ladylike Araucana

The pair live in almost-solitary splendour since I spotted the boy Buff Orpington paying them a little bit too much attention recently. They’ve oodles of space in both their house and run and they don’t seem to miss the old chap, so it’s not that they’re loudly protesting. No, the noise they’ve been making has a far more disturbing quality: these two ladies have started crowing. The moment I spotted them was all rather surreal. I’d taken last Friday as a day off to simply potter at home. I was spending a fair bit of time in the garden and that’s when I noticed Audrey, the white Araucana, behaving most strangely. She started charging around the run at an astonishing speed, but quite erratically. Then I watched in horror as I realised what she was about to do: she stood still, elongated her elegant neck and opened her little beak. An impressive cock-a-doodle-do sounded across the grass. Then a few minutes later Mabel, the brown Araucana, tested her own crowing ability.

This just isn’t right I told myself as I stared in disbelief at my decidedly feminine birds. I dashed to my bookcase but found that none of my henkeeping guides address the topic. However, a quick search on chicken-themed internet forums put my mind at rest. It seems that since the Buff Orpington cockerel left they are stepping into his spurs as it were: proclaiming their territory and jostling in the new pecking order, too. I was a little worried that these two beautiful birds who lay stunning pale-blue eggs were morphing into boys (something I’d always considered a myth until I heard more and more accounts of the phenomenen), but thankfully that looks very unlikely. Hopefully, they’ll settle into more ladylike behaviour before long, or our neighbours will think they’re loud early morning alarm calls are nothing to crow about.

Check out the difference between the pullet egg from a new hybrid hen and the full-size specimens from the older members of the flock

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