I’m typing this to the *blissful* sound of our guinea fowls’ alarm calls on the back veranda. Kidding, of course. Our new guinea fowl are loud. Really really loud! We were lulled into a false sense of security by the quiet nature of the few wild guinea fowl who were living on the farm when we moved in. The new guinea fowl are much less placid creatures, arcing up at any potential threat – real or imaginary. Perhaps the problem was I raised them like pets on the back veranda? Now, even though they’ve grown up, they seem to feel they’d prefer living on the back veranda rather than the grass, and eating grain while ignoring the insects they were supposed to eat. Which would all be fine – if they happened to be a just a smidge quieter. I do love them…but, like some relationships, a little distance might be useful to enhance those warm fuzzy feelings. Meanwhile hubby keeps muttering something about guinea fowl, camp ovens and roasting 😉
Besides the noise factor, the back veranda is really not ideal as guinea fowl living quarters as it’s the place I raise our seedlings. At least, it used to be the place I raised our seedlings:
Turns out, while guinea fowl don’t actually want to eat the plants themselves, they’ll destroy potted seedlings while in search of bugs. Hm. New spot required for seedlings.
The Chicks Grow Up . The Great Question: Rooster or Hen?
Our little chicks are not so little any more. It’s been exciting watch their feathers, colours and personalities develop. Black, white, brown, grey and everything in between, they’re a motley crew. As you can see from the photo below, our little chicks are, as we suspected, not the same pure breed chicken:
Since they were tiny chicks, we’ve had bets going on which chicks would be hens and which roosters. As newbies, we consulted the oracle (YouTube) on ways of telling the boys from the girls. This is what we found:
Signs of a Rooster (when comparing chicks of same age and same breed):
- Have thicker and longer leg bones
- Develop tail feathers later (around two weeks old the girls will have little ‘pin’ tail feathers and the boys almost nothing)
- Are more aggressive and dominant
- Will develop combs and wattles more quickly
- Early attempts to crow!
Signs of a Hen (when comparing chicks of same age and same breed)
- Finer, shorter leg bones
- Develop tail feathers sooner (look around two weeks of age for ‘pin’ tail feathers)
- Are more sedate and peaceful, don’t bother other chicks to same extent as boys
- Develop combs and wattles more slowly
- No attempts to crow at dawn
Given our observations of the chicks, I was 99% certain Maggie was a boy. He was always the leader of the pack, aggressive towards the other chicks, had no tail feathers at a young age, had powerful legs and developed a comb and wattle extremely early. Then a few weeks ago he began making a funny strangled noise as the sun came up, which quickly turned into a little crow. So cute!
Sophie, on the other hand, has always had all the hallmarks of a hen. Sweet, placid and peaceful, early tail feathers and fine legs. However many weeks later and no signs of crowing or a comb.
The other chicks are a little more difficult. Sunshine is about a week younger than the others so hard to compare. Even so, Sunshine’s demeanour, powerful legs and late tail feathers always made me peg him as a rooster. No crows yet so time will tell.
Minty is a conundrum. Her wattle and comb developed early but she’s a completely different breed to the others, so that may not have much significance. Her legs are fine, but I rather suspect she’s a small breed or bantam so again that’s no guarantee. She got her tail feathers early and has always had a rather cuddly little personality – which suggests hen. But then again she’s constantly stood up for herself against pecking from the others. Still, I’ve got my money on Minty being a hen.
Pam is another tricky case. I’ve always leant towards hen for her but she/he is difficult to determine. The tail feathers were not early or late. The legs are neither fine nor powerful. The wattle and comb have some development but aren’t fully developed. Personality wise Pam can be aggressive at times and placid at others. As a side note, a few times in the morning I could’ve sworn some crowing came from his/her vicinity rather than Maggie’s….and what are the chances of four hens from five chicks?? Surely one of the other chicks has to be a rooster. I’m betting Sunshine, but Pam is an outside possibility.
Feel free to make your predictions below – hen or rooster? I’ll let you know in a few weeks when all the laying and crowing begins.
Happy almost-weekend 🙂
P.S. Post on making English muffins from scratch coming soon.
P.P.S. Oops. Forgot to tell you about the chicken up the tree. Will add that into the next post 🙂