How to Feather Sex Chicks

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
539
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Belding, MI
I'd like to know more about feather sexing. Which breeds are or are not? How about crosses? Why does it work with some, but not others? I think the last question was answered, but I didn't understand it. Can you explain a little more, please? TIA!

I learn so much here. :)
 

TheOddOneOut

Free Ranging
Feb 15, 2020
7,072
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596
The suburbs of Portland,Oregon
I'd like to know more about feather sexing. Which breeds are or are not? How about crosses? Why does it work with some, but not others? I think the last question was answered, but I didn't understand it. Can you explain a little more, please? TIA!

I learn so much here. :)
It only works with slow feathering male x fast feathering female. So, not pure breeds.
I’m simply shocked that so many sites and people are convinced you can sex them by feathers as day olds when they aren’t this cross. It just doesn’t work!
*sigh*
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
539
1,216
153
Belding, MI
I have a BO cockerel and three BA pullets. Would I be able to feather sex that cross?

My understanding of feather sexing is that girl get tail feathers sooner than boys. Correct?

Thanks again.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
539
1,216
153
Belding, MI
When chicken math hits me next spring, I'll probably get some day old BA pullet chicks if I get a broody hen. I was wondering if BO over BA would be feather sexable. A friend of mine has just pullets and said he might be interested in fertile eggs next spring.

I didn't think this cross would lead to a sexlink coloring...? I don't know anything about how that works. The genetics is interesting to me, but I need something that spells it all out. I'm a rank beginner at this.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,584
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USA
When chicken math hits me next spring, I'll probably get some day old BA pullet chicks if I get a broody hen. I was wondering if BO over BA would be feather sexable. A friend of mine has just pullets and said he might be interested in fertile eggs next spring.
If the father was fast-feathering
AND if the mother was slow-feathering (you'll know if you raise them: they look almost naked for weeks)
then they will produce slow-feathering sons and fast feathering daughters. (Each gender of chick grows feathers like the other-gender parent.)

For that specific cross, you can feather sex by the wing feathers when they are less than about 3 days old, but you should also be able to tell later when the sons are looking mostly naked while their sisters are well feathered.

I didn't think this cross would lead to a sexlink coloring...? I don't know anything about how that works. The genetics is interesting to me, but I need something that spells it all out. I'm a rank beginner at this.
Buff Orpington father, Black Australorp mother: not sex linked coloring.

Buff Orpington father could produce sexlink chicks with a barred hen (Barred Rock, Dominique, Cuckoo Marans, etc.) All chicks would hatch with a lot of black, but the sons should have a light dot on their heads and grow feathers with white bars, while the daughters just feather out mostly black. (The daughters may show some gold in their breasts and necks as they grow up.)

Buff Orpington father could also produce sexlink chicks with a silver hen. Silver hens include: Light Brahma, Light Sussex, any Silver Laced or Silver Columbian or Silver Spangled color pattern, Dark Brahma or Silver Pencilled chickens--basically, they've all got patterns of black and white, but the "pattern" is not white barring on black. For all of these possible mothers, the sons will grow up to have silver patterns (white and black), while the daughters will have gold patterns (gold/brown/red with black.) On some, you can tell them apart by the color of the chick down. On others, they have so much black in the down that you have to wait until they grow actual feathers to see the color difference.

These work because male chickens have two Z sex chromosomes, while hens have ZW.

In each case, the father must have the recessive gene (fast feathering, no barring, gold). Because it's recessive, you can only tell he has it when he has two copies of that gene, so just seeing that he has that trait is enough to tell that he has the right genes.

In each case, the mother must have the dominant gene that is in the same pair (slow feathering, barring, silver). Because she only has one Z chromosome, she only has one gene of each type, so you know she cannot also be carrying the recessive form to mess up your results.

Because each female chick gets a Z chromosome from her father and a W chromosome from her mother, she only has one of whatever genes are on the Z chromosome. So she will match her father--fast feathering, or not barred, or gold.

Each male chick gets one Z chromosome from each parent. Because the mother has the dominant form of whatever gene it is, the son will show that dominant gene (slow feathering, barred, silver). He also carries the recessive gene from his father, but you can't see that. He will pass it to some of his own sons and daughters, which is part of why you cannot cross two sexlinks to get more sexlinks.
 

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