feather development and sexing *pics added*


9 Years
Nov 7, 2010
Monroe, Wa
I have read that pullets will feather wings and tails before cockerals will. is that a wives tail? if not does it only apply to certain breeds? I have 5 orpington chicks. 3 are blue black or splash, (I cant tell colors yet) 2 are buff x splash and odd colored. 3 have wing and tail feathers 1 has wing and scraggly tail feather and one , who is the biggest one of them all still has fuzz and no feathers to speak of. They are about 10 to 12 days old now. I have a couple pics but not the best, man they are quick little things! blurry pics!!

bigfoot. still fuzz


look at those feet!

all the others have feathers like the silver one on the right. wings and pathetic lil tail feathers lol

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I think it's either a wives tale or only works on certain breeds. I noticed that when I hatched my own babies and it didn't seem to make a difference, some had long ones and some short ones, I ended up noticing they just turned out random.

Maybe someone will know a little better than me.
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in my little experience i have found the later feathering ones were boys. have only hatched a few chicks & they were SLW roo over orpington hens out of 5, 1 didnt have tail feathers at 3 wks old & now 2 mths on its obviously a roo.
Thats My Serama Larry
he is the token man out there. he takes care of his girls even though they are 10 times his size

and yeah those feet are huge!!! that one is the biggest chick of all of them. hoping the slow feather theory is true!
Anyone else? anyone keep track of feathers as they grew?

Raven did you take any pictures?
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It has also been my experience that the slower feathering chicks grow up to be boys. I have 4 chicks in my brooder right now that are a month old today. I guessed 1 was a boy by the time he was 10 days old. Two others I guessed were pullets. The fourth the jury is still out on. "It" has a much shorter tail and the wing feathers were shorter at 10 days than the two I thought were girls BUT, the area between the shoulders feathered out at the same rate as the girls. FYI: I've always heard that its the area between the shoulders that is the most telling. The girls will feather that area faster than boys. I dunno. Anyway, I've about decided that 4th one is likely a girl too so I'm of course pleased with a 3:1 ratio of girls to boys out of 4 chicks. I'll go take pics and you can see if you agree. Btw, the "boy" now has a reddish large comb and larger feet but still has baby fuzz between the shoulders.
According to UC Davis Veterinary Care Program.

2. Physical Characteristics (4-6 weeks of age)

a. Comb – The cockerels comb is medium size and pinkish, the pullets is small and yellowish.

b. Legs – The cockerel’s legs are sturdy and long, the pullets are finer and shorter.

c. Tail – The cockerel’s tail is stumpy and curved, the pullets is longer and straight.

d. Back – The cockerel has a thin line of stub feathers down the center of his back, the pullet has more advanced feathering along the center of her back.

e. Side of neck, flank and crop – The feathering in the cockerel in these areas is poorly advanced, the pullets feathering in these areas is well advanced.

f. Wing bows – In the cockerel the wing bows are bare, in pullets the wing bows are covered with small feathers.
Ok, here are the pics just taken. First is the one I think is a boy (and yes, this is just about the ugliest chicken I ever did see

Here is the one I now think is a girl but was unsure of at first:

Here is one I've thought was a girl almost from the beginning:

And here's the one I call "Pretty Girl". Love those big, brown eyes and white earlobes. Not a great pic - she was too busy to pose.
I think the theory of boys feathering in slower does work on some breeds for sure. I bought 3 Barnvelders from a local breeder a little more than a week ago, and she said that the girls wing and tail feathers come in much faster in that breed. I had only wanted girls, but let my DD's pick them out. Well somehow I am 95% sure we have a boy in the mix of 3! Two have fully feathered wings now and big old stumpy tails, while the boy only has about 1/2 the wing feathers and barely a tail at all. They are about 2 1/2 wks old.

I also go 2 BLRW chicks from the same breeder, but she didn't mention if they follow this pattern or not. I'm hoping they do, because their wings are both feathered in and their tails are bigger than our Barnie boy's, and they are almost a week younger.

You might ask on the Orps thread and see if they have found this to be true with that breed. I'd be curious to know too.

BTW, I put in 6 of my Orp eggs and none were fertile.

And since I mixed the pens and got my black hens in with the lavender boys, I haven't seen the boys doing their business either.
Still waiting for my blue pullet and my lav pullet to start laying too.

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