Whistling girls and crowing hens…

I posted this note in our little self-serve egg store today.

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It’s not that the hens are lazy.  They’re just tired.  They’ve laid faithfully for two years and are ready to retire.  Chickens can live for ten years or more in the right conditions and lay eggs just as long, but their peak laying season happens between five and eighteen months.

A hen can even undergo a sex change to become a rooster later in life; no scalpel or testosterone shots required.  This happens through a biological process called protogyny, no word of a lie.

Check out  http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/1277-sex-change-chicken-rooster.html and http://www.howtokeepchickens.blogspot.com/2009/07/hens-sex-change.html for the scientific explanation.  It happens rarely, about 1 in 10,000, but it does happen.  First they start to crow, then their combs grow big; they develop a wattle under the chin, sprout long tail feathers and exhibit all the behaviours of a sure ’nuff rooster.  There are conflicting opinions about whether or not these choosters can reproduce.

I have heard many times that crowing hens always come to some bad end, but nobody ever told me that they turn into roosters.  I must not whistle.  I must not whistle.  I must not whistle…

Conversely, when a rooster turns into a hen, it’s called protandry.  So far this has never happened and may be impossible, but if it ever does, that’s what it will be called.

At any rate, our hens have dramatically reduced their egg production over the past couple of months.  I want to beg them to rally for one more month, just until the new shift arrives to take over, but I can’t because I’ve never told them how I’ve been profiteering from their labours all these years.  If they knew, they might strike or demand a severance package.  Or worse, morph into a flock of vicious roosters and attack me.

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