An author has written a book about his hen Ada that started acting like a cockerel to highlight gender issues for youngsters – arguing it is only humans who react differently when changes happen.
The tale is inspired by the true story of what happened when one of Peter Jones’ female chickens started developing male characteristics.
However, while the sight of one of his hens crowing shocked Mr Jones, who lives in Moray, the rest of his flock barely stirred.
The experience prompted him to investigate how common gender swaps are in the animal world – discovering it is reasonably common among clown fish while moles also adjust their hormones to procreate.
However, it only happens to about one in every 10,000 hens.
Ada’s change doesn’t ruffle hens’ feathers
The book tells the story of a hen growing increasingly concerned it is unable to lay eggs – worrying how it might make her look compared to others in the flock.
While other chickens were producing up to five a week, Ada’s situation was making her feel sad and separate from the rest.
However, that changed one morning when she unexpectedly crowed for the first time – albeit in a slightly off-pitch manner.
In real life, the sound came as a surprise to Mr Jones, who is a former head of communications at Moray Council, due to him not owning a cockerel.
The early morning sound of a rooster continued to confuse him until he actually saw and heard Ada crow one morning.
And the other hens have barely ruffled their feathers from the unexpected change to their daily routine.
In the book, the flock decides to start calling him Adam but do not treat him any differently from before.
Why tell the story of Ada to children?
Mr Jones has aimed his book, which has expressive illustrations, towards children due to the growing debate surrounding transgender issues.
However, he believed material already used in primary schools is “patronising” and believed basing the tale on the true story of an animal would make it easier for children to understand – arguing only humans “make a fuss” about gender changes.
He said: “It was a bit of a shock when one of our hens started to crow one morning. I’ve kept hens for many years and in all that time none of them have behaved like that.
“Apparently it happens very rarely to hens – about one in 10,000. They produce too much testosterone and start behaving like a cockerel.
“This includes a halt to egg production, but instead of her heading to the pot I thought it would be a good illustration of acceptance of differences in others.
“Gender issues are first taught to P6 pupils, and I felt much of the material available appeared rather patronising. Having an anthropomorphised story based on actual events puts the issue into some reality.”
Ada, The Chicken That Changed is available to buy from Yeadons bookstore in Elgin and online at Amazon.