Sexing newborn chicks

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by sezjasper, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    471
    29
    128
    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    One week from today we will choose our five baby chicks from the feed store! Very excited, and also very nervous, because last year, one of our pullets turned out to be a cockerel and it broke our hearts to give him up. According to the feed store, all of the chicks they sell are female, but from what I've learned in the past year, we got lucky with four-out-of-five. So what I'd like to know is...are there any characteristics evident in a newborn chick that I should be looking for when we choose our babies this year? What do breeders look for? If this will help, the five breeds we will be getting this year are Araucana, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, and Light Brahma.

    Also, I've learned with the Araucana that some chicks have the silly little ear tufts and some do not. Are these "future tufts" evident at birth? If possible, my daughter wants a chick that will have the tufts...she calls it a chicken mustache lol

    Thanks for any help, and please keep your fingers crossed for us! We hope to be able to keep our family together this year!
     
  2. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,141
    222
    228
    Apr 14, 2009
    Ft Collins, CO
    Hi Sezjasper!

    I am sure your daughter is very excited! What fun. Unless you are getting a Sex-link or autosexing breed, then you will have a 90% chance of getting a female if that is what the bin said. There really arent any other signs to go by. Its just a factor of an expert vent sexer picking up the chick and looking at its itty bitty boy/girl parts and tossing it in the right bin. I got a book on vent sexing and there are about 10% of the chicks whos little bitty parts don't look like boys or girls so its a guess by the sexer.

    I did want to make a comment on a couple of your breeds. The Brahma (one of my favorite breeds!) will feather in differently than your other chickens and you may panic about it being a boy when its just the way they feather in--very slowly.

    I don't know Wyandottes really well, but they have rose combs. All things being equal, the rose comb may be slightly wider on the boys than on the girls (at least it is on sebrights). You would have to do a side by side comparison of the chicks and the feed store may not allow you to handle the little ones that much. Plus its really a gut feel and if you are not experienced it may not work.

    The feed store may be idenitfying the chick as Araucana, or Ameraucana, but with rare exception (and these chicks will be much more expensive) you are really going to be getting what most call an Easter Egger. They are lovely birds that do not meet the standard of perfection of either Araucana or Ameraucana. It surprises everyone to find out that thier chick is not as they thought--sort of like a bait and switch. So no tufts for your daughter but they will likely have a beard and muffs. I have a hatchery 'Americana' and she lays a Jumbo egg that is 'pink'= really tinted. But she is a great bird and I am glad I have her.

    My feed store takes back chicks that were sexed incorrectly and it seems to me that most of the Roos they have hanging out have been either bantams (whos parts are too itty bitty to see and are not vent sexed) or 'Americanas' (EE) so there may be something that EE are harder to sex. I seem to recall that the ones with the splotchier head patterns are more likely boys. There is a thread (or maybe several) on BYC about EEs and what they looked like as chicks vs how they got their adult plumage.

    Oh, and if the feed store person tells you they can look at the vents of the babies and sex them for you, they are delusional. The vent sexing only works in the first 24 hours.

    Good luck with your chicks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  3. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,233
    28
    168
    May 6, 2011
    Maryland
    You probably won't get a true Araucana from a feed store. They're sold only by breeders and I don't think they would sell them at a feed store for those prices. You will probably get an Easter Egger, and as long as you truly get an EE, it should have a beard - hopefully! Tufts, I wouldn't count on...

    The breeds you're looking at are hard to sex as chicks, I think. Wyandottes are even hard as they grow, IMO, I can't tell until they start getting waddles.

    Good luck! Hope you get what you want. Giving up birds is hard - I had to give one up today :(
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,451
    3,545
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    You've just got to take your chances. There's not way to tell those breeds at that age except vent sexing, and that's 90% as you know.

    If it's too traumatic to potentially give chicks up, go with sex links.
     
  5. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    471
    29
    128
    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    Thanks to all who replied to my post! Lots of good information here. Of all the breeds we plan to buy, the one I really have my heart set on is the Light Brahma (thanks to a fellow BYC'er who posted the wonderful story of her chicken, Georgina, and her first egg! Georgina was actually a POW a couple weeks ago!) I'm glad to know they feather out more slowly...otherwise I'd worry that something was wrong. Please, please, let me pick a pullet!! I've already named her...lol...she will be my Dorothy [​IMG]

    Last year, I had no idea what a "sex link" chicken was, and we bought a Golden Comet not knowing it was actually a sex link. Since we are flying under the radar with our chickens, I am limited as to how many I can bring home...so that's why we want only one of each breed so we can identify each as the individual she is, and to enjoy the different characteristics of each breed. This year, we may buy a sixth chicken...a black sex link...and with those, I know what to look for: white spot on head means a cockeral, am I correct? [​IMG]

    My feed store absolutely lists "Araucana" chicks with no less than 17 delivery days. With the information you all have given me, I suspect you are correct...what the feed store is really selling is Easter Eggers. Since I have no plans to breed or show any of these chicks, I really don't care...I think the Easter Eggers are adorable...and my daughter will be just as happy with a beard and muff as she would be with tufts. She is especially excited by the idea of blue eggs (which the Araucanas are supposed to lay) but in the end, we all fall in love with the chick, not the looks or the egg color or the prestige of owning a "rare" breed.

    This year I plan to have a good camera available to take lots of pictures! That's my only regret with the girls I have now...we took "phone pictures" and my daughters don't even have those phones anymore. [​IMG]
     
  6. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    5,919
    1,157
    336
    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    Well, it's easy enough to choose an EE with a beard & muffs. Most will have them -- just look for puffy cheeks on the chicks. I bought 4 and ended up with a whoops cockerel, a green layer, an aqua layer, and one that laid baby blue with white speckles. I also found it exciting to see what their feather patterns ended up being since the chick down only hints at the adult plumage.
     
  7. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    471
    29
    128
    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    OK...got that written down..."puffy cheeks." [​IMG] We also had fun last year watching the feathers come in. We would fluff out their little tails to see whose tail was growing the fastest...lol...our babies didn't care, whatever we did was fine with them! [​IMG] So much fun...this is going to be a LONG week!
     
  8. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,233
    28
    168
    May 6, 2011
    Maryland
    Easter Eggers are wonderful chickens. They're some of my favorites in my flock. And sometimes you get some amazing colors - last year, people were getting blue laced ones. I have a blue laced in my brooder right now that I hatched but don't know if it's a girl or boy yet - only 2 weeks old.

    Good luck!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by