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Chicken switches sexes

March 31, 2011 at 5:18 PM

NEEDINGWORTH, England, March 31 (UPI) -- A British couple said they were shocked when one of their three hens underwent a natural sex change and became a rooster.

Jim Howard, 76, of Needingworth, England, and wife Jeanette, 79, said they were perplexed when Gertie the hen stopped laying eggs and they were further baffled when the bird sprouted a red comb and wattle, the Daily Mirror reported Thursday.

"I'll have to start calling him Bertie," Jeanette Howard said.

Victoria Roberts of the Poultry Club of Great Britain said poultry sex changes are rare, taking place in about one in 10,000 chickens. She said the change takes place when a hen's ovary becomes damaged and testosterone levels increase sharply.

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