Two of our chicks are sporting tail feathers now. So far they look pretty scruffy – not much shape or definition. But they are coming right along. Since we are eagerly awaiting clear evidence that these are not roos (as chicken people call young roosters)… we worry. It’s one of those “hard to prove a negative” things. Fast growing tails don’t mean much. Yet.
However, “the striking plumage of a long, flowing tail” is one of the characteristics of a full-grown rooster, and so we are watching developments with a critical eye. So far, it’s only two of the six chicks who have rather large tails. The other four have moderate to small ones. And, like with the combs, we are hoping the early development of tails is breed-connected, not sex-linked.
The two chicks who have quite significant tails are not the same chicks as those with the ever-increasing combs. ”Surely,” we tell each other, ”this comb and tail evidence does not mean four roosters!” It’s interesting, too, that the two largest chicks are giving no evidence, yet, of combs and only the stubbiest of tails. Yet they are almost twice as big as the other four and are already trying to fly. Are they the roosters?
These ‘girls’ (I’m trying to keep a positive attitude) are now 21 days old. Most breeds are fully feathered in eight weeks and maybe by then we’ll know which, if any, are roosters. That’s about the time that some roosters begins crowing, too, though some wait until they’re three or four months old. Most experienced poultry farmers say that hearing that cock-a-doodle doo is the only sure way of distinguishing roosters from hens, especially with certain breeds.
There are other signs, though. Roosters have longer feathers around their necks than hens do and they like to thrust their chests out. They like to walk around looking important and we were warned that if we start using words like ‘pushy,’ ‘bossy,’ ‘strutting,’ and ‘puffed up’ to describe our hens, they just might be roosters.
So we wait and wonder and look for tell-tail signs here in Oysterville.