Do hen chicks really get their wing and tail feathers first?

gumpsgirl

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 25, 2008
14,106
41
311
Virginia
I am a proud new chicken owner (12 RIR!) and I bought them as straight run chickens a week ago hoping and praying that I would end up with at least 6 hens, more would be even better! I read up on all of the old wives tales about how to sex your chicks. So, I tried lifting them with two fingers by their necks and when they drew up their legs, we decided on hen. I have also read that the hens get their wing and tail feather first. Is this true? I am anxious to know, because two of my chicks are still waiting for tail feathers and their wing feathers are short and shaped differently. 10 of the chicks wings are broad shaped and they have their tail feathers. I am just curious to know!
Thanks!
 

twigg

Cooped up
11 Years
Mar 2, 2008
1,389
8
171
Tulsa
There are lots of suggestions about how chickens may be sexed this way.

It varies from breed to breed, and is, at best, unreliable.

With most you can start to get a decent idea from 6 to 8 weeks onwards.
 

Buff Hooligans

Scrambled
12 Years
Jun 11, 2007
12,148
360
311
For what it's worth, my accidental Buff Orp roo was way behind on wing/tail feather growth compared to his "sister" chicks. His comb also turned pink early on. The girls' combs were still flesh colored for many weeks after his had already turned pink.
 

Rebel Chicken

Songster
12 Years
May 9, 2007
193
0
139
southern Indiana
You probably won't be able to tell a for sure sex for a few more weeks. Just enjoy having all the little fuzzy-butts around for a while. I was very lucky last year and bought 9 chicks and only 1 was a roo.
 

ginbart

Crowing
12 Years
Mar 9, 2008
4,837
12
271
Bloomsburg, PA
Could someone tell me what this means?
"I bought them as straight run chickens". I have my new RIR's born on Easter and I have heard this before but I have no idea what it means.
Thanks for letting me know.
 

Portia

Songster
11 Years
Feb 29, 2008
919
21
149
South Central PA
I have 6 black australorps and 5 of them have well developed wings & tails and are rapidly becoming well feathered at almost 5 weeks. The 6th is noisy and still mostly covered with down, we just noticed yesterday that he has started to sprout tail feathers, so now has wing and tail feathers, but that's about it. I'm figuring this must be a roo; taking personality into consideration also. As for the comb, at this juncture his is pretty much the same as the other 5 girls.
One of the girls

The roo (at least that's my guess, but I'm new at this)


Just my observations. Of the other 4 breeds I have they are have all feathered out similarly
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
974
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
That means that they were not sexed as chicks so you have a 50/50 chance of girls and boys. "sexed" chicks will have a 90% girl and 10% boy ratio unless they are sexlinked by feather colors.


As for feather sexing, some males are slow to feather and some females are fast to feather, they use slow males over fast females to make the chicks sexable. However, this trait has to be bred for, and the general trend of faster feathering females may still linger in many production breed chicks.
 

coffeemama

Barista Queen
11 Years
Mar 5, 2008
2,210
43
201
Oregono
I gave in and bought 3 chicks today at Coastal Farm. The guy told me some thing about how the wing feathers overlap in the chicks. He said mine were all pullets, though he just does it for fun. I'm not sure I trust his technique, but it'll be interesting to see!
 

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