For the last few years Parkes woman Ellie Hetherington has had eight ISA Brown hens dutifully laying eggs for her daily.
Then about two months ago something strange started happening.
One of the hens stopped laying and started exhibiting some very unusual characteristics including greeting the day with a very enthusiastic cock-a-doodle-doo!
“It’s a very unusual story,” said Ellie who is already calling her transgender bird a “he”.
“This bird is over four years old and up until eight weeks ago he laid eggs!”
Ellie said she thought she was going a little bit mad until she did some research.
“I decided to look it up on the internet,” she said.
“I googled ‘ISA hen turns into rooster’ and low and behold it does happen.
According to an article Ellie read on Australian website “Backyard Chicken Coops”, as unfathomable as it may seem, it’s touted as having a one-in-10,000 chance of occurring - a hen to rooster transformation is most certainly possible.
“If those are the odds I definitely need to buy a lottery ticket,” Ellie said.
The article goes on to say that while a chicken displaying male-like behaviour may seem like a cause for concern, it is actually quite a common occurrence to see a hen take on masculine traits.
In a flock without a rooster, the hen at the top of the pecking order may try to take on the role of the rooster and will display traits such as crowing and attempting to mount the other hens.
You may also start to notice egg production slowing or stopping completely, and your girl beginning to grow male plumage – wattles and a more established comb.
If this is the case, you’re in for a treat - your ‘hen’ has just gone through a ‘sex reversal’ and turned into a rooster!
The hen does not completely transform into a rooster however – it will just become phenotypically male.
So while the hen will develop the physical characteristics of a rooster, and stop laying eggs, she will remain genetically female.
Parkes veterinarian Daryl Elphick confirmed hens can’t actually physically change into roosters.
“Hen’s do masculinise, it’s due to a hormonal balance, but they wont suddenly grow testicles,” he said.
“They will look and act like roosters, it’s an interesting phenomena.
“You do hear of it every now and again. If you think about it, one in 10,000 hens – that’s a poultry farm.”
Ellie said her new rooster is proudly strutting around her chicken coop sporting his new look.
“He’s gradually getting his new plumage, his tail is coming in and he is even growing larger spurs,” she said.
“I know it’s a funny story but it has happened.
“He is definitely not a young rooster because I’ve had him for over four years and he’s always laid eggs, but no more.”