Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sex change chicken Gertie becomes Bertie

Sex swap ... Jeanette Howard was stunned after hen Gertie turned into a BertieA SEX change chicken which began life as an egg-laying hen has turned into a crowing cock.

Stunned owner Jeanette Howard, 79, couldn't believe her eyes or ears when one-year-old Gertie sprouted a distinctive red comb and chin wattle — and started crowing at dawn.

Now she plans to re-name Gertie, Bertie.

Mrs Howard said she first noticed something was up with Gertie when she started to walk differently from her other two hens, Daisy and Gracie.

She has since been reassured by vets that the hen is fine — but that damage to her ovaries could have caused Gertie to develop male characteristics.

Experts say sex changes can affect one in 10,000 animals.

Mrs Howard said: "I bought three chickens a year ago and they were all laying eggs for me until the end of the year.

"They began to moult over the winter and I wasnt taking a lot of notice. Then one day I heard this crowing noise and I thought 'Where's that coming from?'

"I looked into the garden at Gertie and I saw it was coming from her or him."

Mrs Howard, of Needingworth, near Huntingdon, Cambs, said Gertie had suddenly developed a scarlet comb, chin wattle and long tail feathers, which are all male characteristics.

She said: "It had started cock-a-doodle-do-ing and had grown bits all over its face.

"He had really grown and was strutting around with his head up in the air, so proud of himself. ...

Delia Richter, from Cromwell Vets in Huntingdon, said damage to the hen's single ovary or a growth upon it could cause it to exhibit male characteristics.

Miss Richter said: "It would still be a hen but the ovary on the left side degenerates and the right side begins to release testosterone. It's possible that's what happened in this case." ...

via Sex change chicken Gertie becomes Bertie | The Sun |News.

Some fathers in the area will reportedly be bringing their sons around to Mrs. Howard to help them "man up".

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