Raising Chickens for Our Home Flock, Day 52

[This series is a diary of our experience raising chickens for our home flock. To see all articles in this series, please visit Home Flock Series.]


Rare/Exotic Chick

Our chickens are about eight weeks old. Most of their adult feathers have grown in.  The chickens appear to be about one third the size that they will reach as adults. They are about the size of bantams.

Distinguishing Males and Females

The difference between the male and female Buff Rocks is becoming obvious.

Buff Rock (Male)

The combs of the males are larger and redder than those of the females.

Buff Rock (female)

The Third Eyelid

When reviewing the photos I had taken today, I noticed that in many of them the chicken’s eyes had a hazy appearance, slightly gray.  This is because chickens have an inner eyelid, known as the third eyelid or the nictitating membrane, and in many of the photos, it was closed or partly closed.

Chickens have three eyelids for each eye, the upper lid, the lower lid, and the nictitating membrane. During the day, when they are awake, chickens usually keep their upper and lower lids open, but they frequently blink the nictitating membrane closed momentarily.  It is a transparent lid that the chickens can see through, and it helps clean, moisten, and protect the eye.

The red arrow in the photo below points to the partially closed nictitating membrane. (It is a little hard to see in the thumbnail photo, but you can click on the thumbnail photo to see a larger view).  In the photo on the right, the nictitating membrane is completely open and not visible.

Nictitating Membrane (Third Eyelid)

The Turken below has a hazy looking eye in the photo because the nictitating membrane is closed over his eye.

Turken, showing nictitating membrane

In the photo below, the Turken’s third eyelid is about halfway closed.  As you can see from the photo, when closing, the membrane slides from front to back.

Turken, showing nictitating membrane

Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of photos. Click on any photo to see a larger view.


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12 Responses to Raising Chickens for Our Home Flock, Day 52

  1. Diana Williams says:

    Question: I have White Longhorn Chickens approximately 2 years old. There are about 26 hens. I only get about 6 to 9 eggs a day. I have a rooster. They eat layer pellets and some corn, lettuce scraps, meat, bread, etc. They are free roam. I sure hope we have better luck with the Austrolop chickens when they get older. Any ideas please let me know.
    Thanks Di

  2. Bill says:

    I have 3 adult birds, 2 hens and a Buff orpington rooster. I also have 35 nearly 1 month old chicks in an ajoining room. Do you think the chicks are old enough to be allowed out with the older birds? I leave a door open to the fenced chicken yard all the time as well.

  3. ted says:

    The third eyelid is something they share with some their cold blooded relatives such as the alligator.

  4. Carolyn says:

    We love the barred rock variety of hen, but the roosters have generally been aggressive. Are you seeing any of that with the buff and partridge rocks?

    • Matthew Pressly says:

      I haven’t seen that yet, but these are only about 2 months old at this point.

      • Regina says:

        In 2010 I bought two grown roosters. One was a Barred Rock and the other was a Production Red or RIR. They were both beautiful birds.I had at the time a flock of 18 hens aged from 2 years old to 6 years old. The B. Rock rooster was the nicest and sweetest rooster I have had in a long time. And he ruled the flock without any hostility — except for occasionally reminding the RIR rooster that he was the Boss. Around the last part of November I found my B.R. rooster dead in the chicken house. No physical trauma noted. So now the RIR rooster was King of the coop. He was horrible. He attacked any human whether grownup or little grand child. I quickly had to find him a new home. The hens and us humans are all much happier without that RIR rooster.

  5. Danny Sleeper says:

    I found this very interesting. I have 25 Rhode Island Reds that are about 8 weeks old and am really enjoying watching them change and grow. We got one male, which is finally apparent as to which one.

  6. Charm says:

    Araucanas are rumpless. Call those chickens what they are…Easter Eggers. They are cross bred and are not recognized by the APA. I am not knocking them, I have over 30 of them, I love the different colored eggs.

  7. Laura P says:

    Your “rare/exotic” hen looks like three I just got from a UF chicken guy….and they were identified as Coronation hens.

  8. James Rice says:

    I didn’t know about the third eyelid. Thank you.

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