Sexing Chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jeremy805, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. Jeremy805

    Jeremy805 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2013
    Avoca, Iowa
    I have about 70 full grown chickens and some guineas. I was wondering how to sex them and how to tell if they are laying?
  2. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Sex characteristics between a cockerel and a pullet. (Click to enlarge).

    If you are looking for visual signs that your young pullet is getting ready to come into lay, those might include the fact that her comb will get larger and redder right before she begins, and she will begin to "squat" submissively when you reach down to pet her. Additionally, she may get a little louder right before she begins, since she is experiencing new instincts, and she may not be sure exactly what they are telling her to do, yet. She may go in and out of nest boxes looking for a safe place, and she may try to drive the other hens away from possible egg depositories if she is feeling protective. After she gets used to the process, things will go more smoothly and she will be less irritable.

    If you're just looking for signs that will help to separate a good layer from a hen who is not currently laying (like a broody hen or a hen that needs medical attention), again, the redness of the comb and wattles is helpful to gauge. Comparing comb *size* is not always helpful--especially with different breeds, hens may have very different sized combs. Leghorn hens have very large combs that flop over, while Easter Eggers have compact pea combs, barely there by comparison.

    A hen who is laying well will also have a moist, pink vent, and a wide, plump pelvis. The legs of a good layer may also be paler or "bleached" (in brown egg laying breeds with yellow legs). A poor layer will have lots of pigment. Hens who are good layers may also have broken feathers, simply because their bodies may put fewer resources into their plumage. Make sure your layers have a high protein diet with plenty of calcium for strong egg shells, and so they can maintain the health and gloss of their plumage at the same time.
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  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    The roosters will have side saddle and long hackle feathers. Their combs will be much larger relative to the hens of same breed. Not least they will also crow. Chickens of pea comb breeds like Silkies and Araucana are harder to distinguish early but there is definite difference when older.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Aoxa, I really like your idea with the photos for comparison. That took some effort.

    I don’t have a clue on how to sex guineas. Good luck on that one.

    In addition to what they said about chickens, I look at the legs. A rooster will have heavier thicker legs than a hen of the same breed. A rooster will have a more erect posture. A rooster’s wattles will be more developed than a hen’s and will develop earlier as a chick. With chicks, legs and wattle are the main things I look at. But yours are adults.

    There are differences in breeds which can make it a bit harder, but in general with full grown chickens it should be pretty easy. It can be tricky until they are fully grown. I can generally tell sex at five weeks but with some breeds and crosses, I’m not always totally sure at 16 weeks.

    Here is a good article on how to tell which hens are currently laying and which are good layers. There is a difference. A hen that normally lays really well will not currently be laying if she is broody or in molt. I don’t know what your goals are or how you manage your flock, but maybe this article can help.

    Something I’ve noticed when I butcher my hens. Some breeds have bigger fat pads than other breeds even if they are laying well. My Australorp seem to always have a big fat pad even when they are laying. My Delaware or Sussex, not so much. I know that article is really strong on that pinch test, but maybe that works much better if they are all the same breed.
  5. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Yes the leg difference is very notable in some, but wasn't in the pictures I posted. My EE girls always have fat legs for some reason. I try not to tell them that though ;)

    I'm going to see if I can do a leg comparison photo.
  6. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I did two comb side by sides, which is your very first sign if chicks aren't sex linked.



    Both sets are FULL siblings. Same mother and same father. It makes an easier comparison that way.

    Okay here are some leg size differences too :)

    Adding one more:
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013

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