Feather Sexing Chicks
Color sexing chicks can be a difficult task and is dependent upon the phenotype of the chick. If a chick does not have the correct down color, then you can not color sex the chick. There is a way of using another sex-linked trait to sex chicks based upon the size of the primary and secondary feathers on the wing of a newly hatched chick.
Feather sexing chicks can be accomplished by crossing males that are homozygous for rapid feather growth or carry two rapid feather growth alleles ( k+/k+) with females that are hemizygous or carry only one slow feather growth allele ( K/_W).
The female parent contributes a dominant gene for slow feather growth (K) to all the male offspring while the female offspring will inherit only one rapid feather growth allele ( k+) from the father. This cross produces males that have slow feather growth (K/k+) and females that have rapid feather growth (k+/_W).
The following site provides an excellent example of how to tell the difference between a rapid feathering female (pullet) chick and a slow feathering male (cockerel) chick. You have to examine the feathers on the wings of the newly hatched chick. Wait until the down dries and examine the wing feathers.
The table below contains some of the birds that can be crossed to produce chicks that can be feather sexed.
Any of the males in the table, can be crossed with any of the females in the table to produce offspring that can be feather sexed. If you purchased your birds from a hatchery, check with the hatchery to see if the hatchery feather sexed the birds you purchased. If your stock was feather sexed, then the chickens can not be used for feather sexing crosses.
Edited by ozexpat - 11/11/14 at 11:25pm