Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Lesson 1261 – Update on Zelda (hen to Rooster to Hen)

By Wendythomas @wendyenthomas

Last fall, I wrote about Zelda, our alpha hen who had turned from being a hen, into being a rooster, and then back into a hen – all with different colorings (and yes we know it’s Zelda because of her metal leg identifier and her distinctive “bubble gum” comb.)

If you are around chicken owners for even a little bit of time eventually you will hear stories of hens “turning” into roosters. There are various reasons this can happen. If a flock is roosterless (as ours is) then the alpha hen can actually start to throw off more testosterone and will begin to display more male characteristics. Typically she’ll become more aggressive as she takes the role of protector and will stop laying eggs.

This can also happen if there is an injury of some kind to the reproductive organs, for example there can be a tumor that stops normal hormone production.

So you see, it’s not *that* uncommon for a hen to become a rooster. What is uncommon, however, is for that “rooster” to revert back to a hen and that’s what happened last fall.

Zelda turned from a golden speckled rooster into a white hen with a splash of her original gray on the bottom of her wing.

I contacted a vet who I use as an expert in some of my chicken articles to ask her about Zelda. She confirmed that hen to rooster had been seen, but that hen to rooster and then back to hen was not something that she had ever even heard about.

To be fair though, Zelda is about 7 years old. Most backyard chickens don’t make it to that ripe old age which might cut down on the chances of seeing this happen. The only way to truly find out what is going on would be to do an autopsy and, as Zelda is still alive and well, we’re going to hold off on that option.

In any event, we ended the conversation with the vet saying, she couldn’t wait to see what Zelda was going to do next.

Well, I have an update and here it is.

Zelda Spring 2015

Zelda Spring 2015

Zelda did nothing.

She remains a white female with her gray splash. It looks like Zelda’s grand transgender adventure is over and she is destined to live the rest of her days in our flock as a hen. (At least for now, anyway.)


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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