Can we talk about sex?

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by MandyFitch, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. MandyFitch

    MandyFitch Songster

    Aug 9, 2013

    As a total newby, I'm reading lots of tips for early gender detection, some of it contradictory. Or maybe it's not contradictory, maybe it depends on the breed.

    So talk to me. What do combs tell you? Early or late feathering? Defined striped vs cloudy stripes, defined spots vs messy spots? Thick legs?

    What are your best general tips?
    What are your favorite breed specific tells?

    (I promise not to hold anyone to anything!)

    If I get a lot of good info I can put together something for newbies like myself to play with during the long weeks of waiting for the definitive egg to appear.

  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Here are some tips [​IMG]:

    • If a chick younger than eight weeks old or so has a red comb, its probably a male. A female can have a large comb at this age, but it will be pale.
    • Often, male chicks will have a more boisterous, inquisitive personality. For one of my chickens, I could tell that it was a male as soon as it hatched. Right from the start, he was bold. Of course, you can have fiesty females too.
    • Males often times have thicker legs. Thick legs on their own don't mean that a chicken is a male, but if combined with other male traits, they make it more likely that you have a male.
    • With pea combed birds, males tend to have three rows of small spikes/lumps. Females usually have smaller combs with only one row of bumps.
    • In rose combed birds, males tend to have wider combs. The comb of a pullet will be skinnier than the comb of a male. Male combs will get redder earlier, while female rose combed breeds often have orangish or greyish combs.
    • Male chickens are usually larger and stand taller than females. In Silkies, males are often much larger than the females.
    • Male Silkies also have "streamers" on their crest. Streamers are longer, pointy feathers that come out of the back of the crest.
    • In crested breeds, females have puffier crests, with blunt feathers. Males have more wild looking crest, and the crest feathers are pointy.
    • Female chickens often feather quicker than males. Males often take a long time to develop tails, and overall have less feather covering on their bodies.
    • At 12 weeks old or so, you'll probably begin to notice some saddle or pointy hackle feathers. Saddle feathers are long feathers near the base of the tail. Females have blunt hackle feathers, and males have pointy ones.
    • Some breeds are able to be sexed by color when they have some of their feathers in. For example, in Black Breasted Red breeds, males will develop black chests , while females have salmon colored ones. Faverolles are another breed in which the males feather differently than the females. Males have black, but females are mainly a tan color.
    • Males of multi-colored breeds, like Easter Eggers, tend to get red patches on their wings. They also have blotchy coloring all over their bodies.
    • Breeds that are laced, like Silver Laced Wyandottes also have different color patterns depending on their gender. Male SLW have white patches on their wings, and females tend to have more even lacing.
    • Males usually look more masculine. Females usually have smaler, more delicate looking beaks, and a more feminine "look" in their eyes.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  3. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    The gene for barring occurs on the Z chromosome. Males have 2 Z's, females, one Z and one W. In a breed like the Barred Rock, the males have 2 barring genes, which makes them much lighter in color than the females. (In a cross of a barred bird to a non-barred bird, the male offspring can only have one barring gene, so this doesn't apply in that situation).

    The fuzzy pompom on the crested breeds' chicks heads can clue you in on gender. Female chicks usually have a round crest, that on a male chick is usually oval and runs a bit further down the back of the head.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  4. MandyFitch

    MandyFitch Songster

    Aug 9, 2013
    I've read that the barring on a male will be much more defined than on a female, at least early on. Is that your experience and would that be caused by the genetics you describe here?
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    You've gotten some really good advice and Wyandottes7 gave a good general list.

    I would only add that it seems there is always one of those in the crowd that doesn't fit into either category for some time and you simply have to wait it out until they either crow or lay an egg. (Which is what keeps this forum busy with posts.) So don't be in too big a hurry to declare "foul" (pun intended).

    Usually it is the early developing females whose comb gets bigger and reddish quickly, and have thick legs, and act snotty, that throw you least for me. I've given away a hen as a roo simply because she matured early and I thought she was going to be a roo and wanted her out before she took her attitude to crowing. Turns out she laid eggs at 13 weeks (way early)! Who'd of thunk.

    Slower developing males can leave you guessing for a long time too. That can happen if you have a dominant rooster already and the juvenile roo stays quietly in the background.

    It also gets harder to tell when you have mixed breed stock or poor hatchery quality stock as they won't develop according to standards and can be confusing.

    Overall, I find my most reliable first indicator has been the size of comb combined with comb color (keeping in mind the breed type)....large and red (not just rosy-ish, dark pinkish). Then I watch and wait for the male feathers to show up.

    It can help to take a flash light out and look at your flock as they roost after dark. Roo-ish feathers start coming in around 10 weeks and will have a high gloss shine on them. I found I can see them first with the flashlight before I can see them visually in the day.

    Oh one last bit of is always easier to sex the OTHER guy's flock than your own.

    Lady of McCamley
  6. MandyFitch

    MandyFitch Songster

    Aug 9, 2013
    HAH! Thank you!
  7. newbie32

    newbie32 Songster

    Aug 16, 2013
    Low Desert, CA

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