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I got an email from a friend tonight. She’s got four new hens, all laying nicely – but one of them is now transitioning into a cockerel. It’s the latest thing.

You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon before and almost as surely heard it poopooed as an old wives tale. I got curious one day and chased it down and it’s (kind of) real.

Right. In hens, only the ovary on the left is normally functional. The one on the right is a sort of generic gonad that typically doesn’t develop. Nature is weird. If something happens to that left ovary – let’s say a cyst – the one on the right might wake up.

And it wakes up mad. It becomes a frankengonad – or, to use the real word, an ovotestis. As you deduce from the name, it’s a maybe ovary, maybe testicle. It doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter. It secretes all kinds of puzzling hormones and that’s that.

So the hen may develop male characteristics – big comb and wattles. Saddle feathers. A cock-a-doodle-doo – but not an actual cock. The changes are all purely cosmetic and my friend has almost certainly lost this hen as a layer.

Links for the curious here and here.

The picture, however, is my proper fine boy Mo. He’s got allllll the secondary sexual characteristics and the ladies love him.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: December 8, 2022, 9:16 pm

It’s a relief to know that if I find out they’re teaching about transchickenism in our local schools that I won’t have to go and say mean things at a school board meeting.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: December 9, 2022, 12:10 am

But does she actually become a cock, or is she a bitch dressed as a cock pretending to be a dick?

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: December 9, 2022, 11:35 am

Did you name Mo after Moe Bandy?

Comment from peacelovewoodstock
Time: December 9, 2022, 1:03 pm

What are its pronouns?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 9, 2022, 6:12 pm

No, Deborah, when he was hatched, his name was Molly. I had such high hopes…

Comment from BJM
Time: December 10, 2022, 9:57 pm

The jokes write themselves, so I’ll not indulge in 13 yr. old humor.

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