How to sex chickens before they start crowing or laying?

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by Rachel96, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Rachel96

    Rachel96 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feel a bit like a dumb newby to chickens when I ask this, and I guess I am. I originally posted this question on the "Dumb Question Central" but was encouraged to ask it here. So, here goes:

    Is it possible to sex chickens for sure before they start crowing/laying?

    I don't know how to vent-sex birds (I want to learn but it sounds a little gross) and I have some seven-week old chicks I'd like to sex. And what about breeds which don't have clear combes and wattles, like silkies? I usually try to work out which sex teenage birds are by how big their combes and wattles are (a fifteen-week-old rooster will have combes and wattles about the size of a twenty-five-week-old hen), but I get stumped on ones that don't have a single combe.

    I feel really dumb when I go into the local grain and fodder shop, which usually has an amazing selection of birds, because they're not labelled and you're just meant to KNOW what breed/sex they are. I get most of my birds from the local classifieds site because people labelled the breed and sex of your bird and don't mind you asking silly questions because you can't see it (unless you ask to go around and have a look at it!). The guys in the grain and fodder shop come across as a little disparaging when you ask a dumb question.

    My family have been keeping chickens since I was a toddler but we've always got POL birds so I've never had to sex them before. Since I'm planning on hatching chicks from the birds I have at the moment, I guess it's pretty important to try to sex them before they all start crowing and making my mum mad.

    I've noticed lots of people on BYC seem to be able to look at a picture of a really young chicks (like 2 weeks or so) and say what sex it is. How do you guys do that? It's amazing!

    Is sexing chickens by sight something that can be taught or is it just something I've got to learn from experience? If it's the former, can someone please teach me?

    from Rachel.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. BlueCamas

    BlueCamas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cockerels start developing their comb and wattles much faster than pullets. Their combs and wattles get red early while pullets combs don't get red until they start laying. In some breeds that have wildly different plumage depending on sex, you can sex them as they feather in. Cockerels usually have tree-trunk legs compared to pullets, but their are pullet that have very masculine legs.
     
  3. ramirezframing

    ramirezframing Overrun With Chickens

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    its both, and all have made mistakes [​IMG] but your roos tend to get bigger, redder combs and wattles way before a hen will. the roos also start to develop hackle and saddle feathers around 3 to 4 months. the roos also tend to have thicker legs and of some colors come a shade or two darker than a hen ex: buff orps. the hen is a washed out color but the roos are a more orange color. hope this helps and good luck
     
  4. Coop Deville

    Coop Deville Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ditto on the mistakes! If nothing else just post pictures of your chicks on this site for all of the fellow chicken lovers who like to analyze young chicks for gender.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Some breeds, like the Barred Rocks, display completely differently and are easy to sex. Some hybrids, called sexlinks, are intentionally created so that the chicks hatch out in different colors, with pullets being one color and cockerels being another.

    The early wattles are a surer sign in other breeds. The cockerels often have more personality, stand straight and alert, and frankly, walk a bit differently. In spite of all that some breeds are notoriously difficult to sex until the birds start to mature and display their secondary sex characteristics.
     
  6. mannamedL

    mannamedL Out Of The Brooder

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    i know this might sound kinda weird, like superstition or w/e, but i use a pendulum to sex my chickens ahaha and it's pretty darn accurate! Just make a pendulum (a nut tied to a string about 10 inches long?) and then hold the chicken and hold the pendulum over the chicken. If the pendulum moves in a circular motion, it's a girl, if it moves in a linear motion, it's a boy... yup... so far, it hasn't failed me. Hope that helps!

    L
     
  7. BlueCamas

    BlueCamas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had this done to one of my chicks by someone who swears by it. She said it was a pullet, but it turned out to be a cockerel. I prefer looking at their combs and wattles to guess sexes, has been much more accurate for me [​IMG]
     
  8. mannamedL

    mannamedL Out Of The Brooder

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    haha yea, i think it's more of a self-hypnotism thing so it'll say "boy" when i'm secretly thinking "boy", but it works for me XD
     
  9. Rachel96

    Rachel96 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for everyone who's replied. It's all still a bit confusing for me but thankyou anyway.

    I have on a thread here https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/651929/what-gender-are-my-sizzles for the chicks I'm wondering about at the moment. I don't really mind waiting until they're older but I'm curious.

    I am able to sex some breeds myself from about three months (ISA Browns, Plymouth Rocks, Leghorns, and so forth), but Silkies (and by extension, SilkieXFrizzles) confound me. Any ideas on how to sex Silkies or do you just have to wait until they're older?

    I understand about the comb and wattle coming in earlier and redder in roosters and hens and that's usually how I tell - but what about breeds which don't have combs and wattles so pronouncedly?

    from Rachel.
     
  10. ramirezframing

    ramirezframing Overrun With Chickens

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    in silkies the males tend to have streamers out the back of the crest and more hard feathers in the tail. polish roos have a pointed end on the crest while hens have a rounded end and more of a short ball shape of the crest
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012

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