Secondary Sex Characteristics

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by Gindee77, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. Gindee77

    Gindee77 Songster

    Mar 31, 2008
    QCA, Illinois
    I found this on the internet and hope I'm putting it in the right place on the forum. I found some of the points about feathering (Sec.II partB #2) rather interesting and thought some of you who are questioning what sex your chicks are would too!

    These are some of the secondary physical sex charachteristics of chicks between 4 and 6 weeks old.

    Excerpt From UC Davis paper:

    UC Davis Veterinary Care Program

    Office of the Attending Veterinarian
    Bird Handling and Laboratory Skills Class
    Sherri Goss, RVT, RLATG

    Section II Part B – Sexing birds is not always an obvious task. Sexing day old chicks can be done by experts using the “vent or feather” methods. These methods are difficult to learn. There are some guidelines to help determine the differences between females (pullets) and males (cockerels) but they are not always present. Between the ages of 4 and 6 weeks, chickens develop secondary sex characteristics. Sexual dimorphism exist, however, there can be females that exhibit male traits and males that exhibit female traits. A reliable method of sexing chickens that lack sexual dimorphism is laparoscopy or by DNA analysis which is currently the most common method used.

    1. Behavior- Cockerels will instinctively stand erect with their heads upright and will emit a peculiar warning chirruping sound when startled by an outside stimulus. Pullets on the other hand will more likely crouch down low and remain silent. Cockerels exhibit more aggressive behavior towards other birds than do pullets.

    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.

    3. Color-crossed chicks – Cross breeding birds of particular colors will result in male chicks having a different color down than female chicks. Here are 4 examples:
    a. Mate a gold rooster (Rhode Island Red, Buff Rock, Buff Leghorn) to a hen which is silver (Light Sussex, Light Brahma, Pure White Wyandotte) and the cockerels will have a whitish grey or pale brown down and the pullets will have a reddish-brown or buff down.
    b. Mate black red type roosters (Old English, Modern Game, Welsummer) to hens that are silver (Light Sussex, Light Brahma, Pure Rock) the cockerels will be grey with black and grey marking while the pullets will have brown stripes and markings.
    c. Mate a non-barred, no stripes on feathers, rooster (Australorp, Black Leghorn, Rode Island Red) with a barred, stripes on feathers, hen (Plymouth Rocks, Cuckoo Leghorns) and the cockerels will have a white spot on the back of their heads and the pullets will have dark brown or black heads.
    d. Mate dark legged roosters (Silkies, Minorcas, Campines) to hens with light legs (Sussex, Leghorns, Wyandottes) and the cockerels will have pale legs and the pullets will have dark legs.
    Ana Parsons, Nvazquez, Corydg and 2 others like this.
  2. citychickers

    citychickers Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    Littleton Colorado
    [​IMG] Thanks! This info is really helpful to me! I'm making myself crazy [​IMG] trying to figure out what my chicks are! [​IMG] They're all so different depending on the breed! Thank you![​IMG]
  3. McGoo

    McGoo Songster

    Really helpful. Thanks [​IMG]

    This kinda confirms some of my roos, though they are just now turing 4 weeks old.
  4. pdsavage

    pdsavage Sussex Monarch

    Mar 27, 2008
    what in the world is a wing bow?

    f. Wing bows – In the cockerel the wing bows are bare, in pullets the wing bows are covered with small feathers.
    1 person likes this.
  5. mistylady

    mistylady Songster

    Jun 1, 2008
    Ohio near Coshocton
    Great info! Thank you!!!!!
  6. chickenmamalp

    chickenmamalp Songster

    Thank you for info.
  7. geobird

    geobird In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2011
    Very good information. I'd like to see it as a sticky, and perhaps with pictures (simple) to support the anatomical references.

    Yes, I have been scrutinizing my three month old BO's for a while now. Gender is becoming clearer every day, but I would like to know more about what I am looking at as it develops.

  8. farm316

    farm316 Songster

    Jul 28, 2014
  9. Marge Carlson

    Marge Carlson In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2017
    drumstick diva likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: