Feather sexing... Is it possible??

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by newwestchick, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. newwestchick

    newwestchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok ok, I know there is much debate about weather feather development can identify which sex a chick is... But I am in a scenario where I think there might be a possibility and I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar experience?

    I received on Christmas Day, 2 day old chicks in the following quantities
    5 x Caramel Queen (verified sex link, cross of light Sussex Hens and Wellsummer rooster)
    6 x Light Sussex straight run
    6 x ameraucana straight run
    5 x Barred Rock straight run

    All came from a local hatchery of heritage breeds. We picked them up :)

    Ok, so bearing in mind I KNOW the caramel queens are pullets, I've been observing the other groups of chicks and comparing them all. They are all very feisty, so my observations are not based on attitude alone, or overall size, but wing development.

    All chicks are 12 days old today.

    The caramel queens are very well feathered. In comparison, I see that half of the Sussex chicks are feathered like them (I suspect pullets) and the other half have a more upright cocky stance with much less wing feather development (suspect cockerels). Same for the barred rock except only 2 with the more pronounced development (suspect 2 pullet, 3 cockerel).

    The anomaly is the ameraucana - they (all 6) seem to have the same degree of feathering, similar amounts to the queens. Either they develop differently or I've got 6 pullets... I'm hoping for the latter! I'll upload some pictures for your thoughts :) Maybe I'm nuts!
     
  2. newwestchick

    newwestchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG]
    Light Sussex suspected pullet
    [​IMG]
    Light Sussex suspected cockerel [​IMG]
    Ameraucana. Basically they all look like this in terms if feathering but vary a few ounces in size. Loads of wing feathers.
    [​IMG]
    Verified sex link Caramel queen. Loads of wing feather development.
    [​IMG]
    Barred Rock suspected pullet
    [​IMG]
    Barred Rock suspected cockerel
     
  3. KittyKat3756

    KittyKat3756 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is possible to see some differences in some breeds at that age, depending on their genetics. I don't know about Ameraucanas or Barred Rocks, but I have read that there is some difference in certain strains of Light Sussex with females feathering up much faster.

    It's too late now, but on newly hatched chicks, you can check the wing feathers. If they can be feather sexed, then the females will have long primaries which will extend well past the covert feathers while the males will have primaries which are the same length as the covert feathers.

    Edit: looks like someone has posted some helpful photos!
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  4. newwestchick

    newwestchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm new to purebred chickens, so it's been interesting having several of each to compare development within the breed and to the others. The barred rock are overall smallest at this stage - but are anticipated to get larger than the rest.

    Any cockerels will be traded or dressed, so I'm not too concerned one way or another but thought it would be interesting to see what others have noticed in these breeds!
     
  5. KittyKat3756

    KittyKat3756 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 16, 2014
    Norfolk, UK
    My Light Sussex females (from a poor strain, unfortunately) feathered up a tad faster than the males, but not by much. The males started gaining weight much faster around week 4-5, same time as they were 100% sexable by combs.

    Anyway, here is what I got in terms of growth rates for Light Sussex (and bantam Wyandottes) compared to Light Sussex cockerels and a mixed sex group that others have gotten. I'd love to hear from anyone else who is interested in keeping track of their chicks' growth and would be happy to share my spreadsheet.

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Hi newwestchick,
    Feather sexing is usually done between 1thru 4 days old. For me, that's when differences are most apparent. Not all strains of Light Sussex can be feather sexed. My 2 show quality strains can be feather sexed because they originated in England and were imported to Canada. Last century, the Canadians decided it was worthy to create feather sexing in their poultry. They worked to create the trait in a bunch of breeds, the Light Sussex being one. So my birds have this trait. It is funny tho, even tho my birds have generations of show wins behind them, I found very few interested in Pure English Light Sussex. as a serious "keep them pure in the strain" endeavor. Some day, tho, I will find someone who shares my passion and I will bend over backward to help them get started. Seems like so many want to cross breeds and colors willy nilly , thither and yon these days to create something unusual or unique. . Oh well. Congrats on your chicks! Looks like you have a nice set up there.
    Happy New Year,
    Karen
     
  7. KittyKat3756

    KittyKat3756 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 16, 2014
    Norfolk, UK
    Quote:I'd rather have that problem than what we've got in UK which is that the breed is slowly having its utility aspect (which is something of a primary concern) bred out of it for improved visual compliance with the standard. Given that it's a breed which is supposed to lay 220+ eggs per year, it's not uncommon for many strains to lay a measly 150 or so.
    The alternative is what I have: I bought eggs from what was being advertised as "pure bred" Light Sussex, but turns out that they're some sort of hybrid or a really not true to type strain as the males are grey. To top it off, they have genetic defects.
     
  8. newwestchick

    newwestchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Looks like this thread is starting to be a light Sussex fan club! I'm ok with that ;)
    I was originally drawn to them as I know they're good winter layers, so having them with good spring and summer layers will hopefully result in good year round production. Also, I've eaten them as fryers before and they're pretty darn tasty so I'm not opposed to some being cockerels. I got all my chicks locally from this hatchery;
    http://truenorthfarm.ca/light-sussex-chickens-seo/
    It's a small family affair and they pasture the breeding birds, beautifully kept and are nice folks to boot. I'm not sure in a purist sense how their light Sussex hold up to standard, but maybe it's a good contact (if you don't already know of them) for you to have in Canada!
     

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