DNA Testing to determine sex of Silkies

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by SAKim, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. SAKim

    SAKim Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    I have 10 Silkie-ish chicks ranging in age from 15 weeks to 8 weeks.
    I live in the middle of downtown w/ a little backyard where I am only allowed to have 3 chickens. I am madly in love with each one of them and fall more in love every single day. It breaks my heart to think I can't keep them all... Knowing I have to give away at least half of them, I want to know what sex they are as soon as possible.

    I have spent hours and hours on the computer just looking at silkies hens and roosters trying to figure out what I have and I just get more and more confused. Some days I think 9 out of 10 are roosters, other days I think there are a few hens in the mix.

    I ran across a couple of websites that will DNA test to determine sex of chickens.
    Does anyone have any experience with these kind of tests?

    They said there were two ways -- cut there little claw and make it bleed on a paper or pluck out w/ tweezers 4 or 5 feathers from the chickens chest. I am a complete novice at this and both ways sound like they would hurt. They say both tests are equally accurate. Any idea which way would be easier on the chickens and on me?

    I would appreciate anyone's suggestions or if anyone has any other way of finding out the sex earlier than waiting for eggs/crowing...
  2. emys

    emys Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    Post really good pictures of their faces/heads on this site. These folks can probably tell you with pretty good accuracy. Cheaper too.
  3. SAKim

    SAKim Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    My Silkies are little mutts and of course, don't have the "right" combs, tail feathers, feet, etc... so it is hard to compare them to Silkie Standards for hens and roosters. For example, all except one have at least a few hard tail feathers, would that mean all roosters or just poor quality hens? I just took three that I was pretty sure were roosters because they had the biggest combs and was told one could still be a hen because of the body shape... so so confusing.

    I am curious about the DNA testing and if anyone had any experience with them. As a person that has never had chickens, I am not sure if I could cut the chicken's toe nails and make them bleed... so I thought maybe I could pull out 4 chest feathers but the base of those feathers look really big to yank out. Is there anything I could do to minimize the pain?

    Thanks for listening to me and I really would liek to hear from anyone.

  4. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

    Jun 27, 2008
    West Central Ohio
    Don't confuse poor quality birds with mixes. I've seen it a lot especially with Silkies. Hard feathers in the tail denotes poor quality. I agree with emys, you should post pictures of them and we could help. Mainly full body and head shots.
  5. chickenman98

    chickenman98 Songster

    Mar 27, 2010
    Eastern Oklahoma
    If you post pics I'm sure someone can help you.
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Doesn't matter how mutt your bird is, the sexual dimorphism will eventually show on the birds.

    If they really are mutts, 8 weeks is about time where even silkies can be ID'd. Being of poor quality makes them even easier to sex! If you can post a face shot and a side shot of each bird, with their age, members can probably ID at least some of them.

    Males will have larger combs at 8 weeks, and red by 15. But, females can start growing combs at 15 too, but only males will have "streamers". So age with clear quality pictures will really help. Plus, give the youngest 3 more months and eggs/crowing will nail in gender without hurting the pocketbook.

    Now if you really want to spend money on a DNA test, they should work just fine on something as well studied as chickens. Pulling a few feathers fast would be what I'd use as chickens often lose feathers from scuffles and such. You'll send them feathers and the cells attached to the feather root, where it was in the skin, will be digested in a lysis buffer of some sort. They will then use something like a phenol chloroform extraction to get the DNA out, then use ethanol to percipitate it. A few spins and washes later they will resuspend the DNA in TE or water. They will then run a standard PCR it with most likly the P2/P8 primers or a version of it and run it out on a 5% gel. Males will have a single band and females will have a double band.
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I have used a DNA sexing service for my cockatiel. It was easy though because I didn't have to actually pull out feathers, just pick some up, her being the only bird in the house. I mailed in the feathers and form with payment and got a certificate back within a week confirming that she is indeed a she.

    I don't think very many people would spend $20 to find out a chicken's sex, but there's no reason why you couldn't. I'd pull feathers for it - it doesn't really hurt them like cutting a toenail. Plus cutting a toenail too short seems risky to me. Bleeding, infection, you name it. Feathers being pulled isn't such a big deal, it won't make them bleed like that, and they grow back pretty quick.
  8. SAKim

    SAKim Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    Thank you all so much. I have tons and tons of pictures but they are mostly of them cuddling with each other and acting cute. I will try to get some really good head shots -- front and side and a body shot and post them.

    Is it only the boy silkies that have red combs early? Both of the birds that crow had big red combs pretty early. Then I have a couple with flat smaller red combs and then a few that have nothing or flat black smooth bumps... I will get pictures. To me all of them look like they have streamers coming from the back of their heads, they look like their hair is blowing in the wind.

    Maybe I will wait a little on the DNA testing but I am glad to hear that pulling out the feathers would not be too hard on them... I just had this picture in my mind of blood squirting everywhere and screeching, flapping, birds.

    Thanks again everyone for being so nice!

  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    The only feathers that bleed are pin feathers. Just pick ones with clear shafts that look all grown out.
  10. SAKim

    SAKim Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    I took some pictures of Skully. Skully was born on May 15, which would make her/him about 15 weeks old. Skully is special to me because she/he got crooked neck and we spent lots of time together w/ predisone, vitamin E, children's vitamins, special food, water, etc...I held Skully for hours every day for over a month. Skully couldn't even walk a couple of steps with out rolling over but now is doing great.

    Everyone keeps telling me that there is a chance that Skully might be a girl but I think they know how hard it will be to give this one up. I know they are trying to be hopeful but I just need someone to tell me an unbiased truth...lol.

    The funny comb came on early and has not really gotten any redder, there is not much for waddles. There are feathers coming from the back of the head but they were not as long as the other roosters. For over a month, he/she has been opening her/his mouth and makes crowing motions but nothing ever comes out. There are lots of feathers on her/his tail, they are soft but not fluffy.

    Personality wise. Skully is mean to all the chickens except for a big white rooster. Before the crooked neck thing everyone would peck on Skully, once she/he was better and back outside with everyone, Skully was really aggressive with the others, he/she pecks everyone, fights/chest bumps with almost everyone. Skully doesn't share at all. I give them fresh corn on the cob and Skully won't let anyone (except the big white rooster) eat with her/him and so 9 chickens share one cob and Skully eats on the other.

    So Here are some pics, please let me know if there is anyway to tell if Skully is a boy or girl? --

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] Skully is the one on the right

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