Sex Changes and Showgirls…

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…it’s not what you think.

Our hideously beautiful Bill F. Murray has now at the age of 5.5 months become a man.  Bill is a Naked Neck or Turken, which is a breed of chicken that looks like a cross with a turkey because of its featherless neck.  We obtained Bill by chance – he was the free “rare breed” chick included with our first order of meat chicks.  He was instantly identifiable and I assumed he was in fact a HE.  A free chick from a hatchery would of course be male; females are in higher demand and therefore more valuable.  So I assumed we’d butcher him with the rest. Little did I know that TS was immediately interested in keeping the ugly little thing.  Usually (99.999999% of the time) I am the one that is plotting and planning to obtain and care for every type animal on God’s creation.  But I was quite determined not to get attached to the fluffy little peeps that would meet their maker in only 3 short months, so I had zero interest in befriending the little freak of nature.

So killing day (rather several long days) arrived and it was jointly decided that Bill was still too small to eat.  His meat breed siblings were the size of small turkeys by then and he looked like such a runt in comparison.  By this point, TS had become quite smitten and named his little friend Bill F. Murray.  He had come up with his own plan for Bill – he would be the leader of the small flock of game hens we had rescued and they would sleep in their own little hobbit house built into the side of the hill and roam free for the rest of their days.  I began hoping Bill was a hen.  I let that hope cloud my judgment while we looked at online photos of Naked Neck roosters and came to the conclusion that Bill MUST be female because he didn’t have a tall comb or long wattles like the roosters in the Google photos.  So Bill F. Murray became known as Bill Francine Murray, though we continued to refer to him/her/it exclusively as a HE even when we gave him credit for an unusually small egg we found in the nest box.  By this time, I had come to enjoy poking fun at TS for getting attached to a chicken!  Here’s a photo of the lovely couple:

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(Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far now…LOL)

So back to my story….we decided Bill was a hen, integrated him and his game chicken friends with the main flock, and quit thinking about him much for awhile.  Winter came and we were too busy trying to keep warm to see that Bill’s comb was getting taller and his wattles getting longer… maybe there were other signs in his stance or behavior as well, but who knows?  Certainly not me – it was all I could do to fill up the feeders and bust ice out of the water bowls and try to get back in the house before hypothermia set in.

Then there was a sort-of warmish day last week when all four of us actually got to go outside for awhile.  TS and the kids were kicking a soccer ball around in the field and I was getting the chickens’ water container to refill it in the creek.  As I turned away from the chicken yard and started towards the creek, I heard an unfamiliar crow.  I yelled at TS to ask if he heard it and told him the little game cockerel had just crowed and it was “about that time” (to have him for dinner).  The little guy had been working on a crow for several weeks, so I just knew it must be him.  Then I heard the crow again as I filled the water container and as I turned back towards the creek I saw Bill standing on top of the dog house next to the coop, looking suspiciously cocky.  I got back to the chicken yard and he was still standing there.  Again I asked TS if he heard the crow, and this time I said “I think it was Bill!”  TS came over to stand with me as we stared at Bill and waited.

Bill stretched his naked neck to the sky and crowed.

Dammit.

As we stood there for a minute in idiotic disbelief, I started trying to make a plan.  I knew there was no way TS was going to let me butcher his friend, but we really didn’t NEED a second rooster.  It was quickly decided that Bill would move back to the barn and take his game hen friends with him.  But I still didn’t really want to have a second rooster of a breed I have no intentions of replicating.  A day or two went by and I remembered hearing of something called a Showgirl in one of my facebook chicken groups and something clicked.  I did a little google search and found out that my suspicions were correct – A showgirl is a Naked Neck chicken crossed with a Silkie.  It looks like this:

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I’ve been wanting Silkie chickens for a long time, but since they are too small to eat and also lay small eggs, I had not yet been able to convince TS that we needed any.  Here was my chance!  I showed TS the photos and suddenly Bill F. Murray’s purpose was clear.  We would use him as the founding father for a flock of Showgirls!  The offspring will be sold as pets, or used to hatch eggs for us.  Both Silkies and Naked Necks are great brooders, which means they will hatch and raise their own eggs as well as eggs of other hens.  So theoretically they could help us increase our laying flock without having to buy as many chicks or an incubator.  I am now officially on the lookout for Silkie hens, since our Spring chick order is already maxed out at 50 laying breed chicks and 50 meat breed chicks due to arrive in March.  It’s going to be a chicken-filled Spring!

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