To sex day old chicks (heavy breeds) for broody or give Keats?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jingles, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. jingles

    jingles In the Brooder

    Jul 31, 2015
    I have a fabulous light Sussex (Prof) who went broody about 3 months ago. After trying all sorts to break her I put a couple of day old chicks under her. One was weak and didn't survive the night, but Prof was a perfect mum to Frankie who has grown into a very large and healthy platinum/silver Orpington rooster. She has only just started laying again and has now gone straight back to being broody in the last couple of days. I only have 3 chickens & now Frankie the rooster, so would be very happy to expand my flock a little but can't have another rooster (and no-one is going to eat my chicks :).

    I am a sucker for heritage heavy breeds (I have an australorp, & buff & light Sussex), so would love to get more big girls but can't get sexed chicks here is Perth (Australia). I know a good breeder who may let me try & sex some so my first question is which heavy breeds (he has pretty much all) can be sexed as day olds. I have read that barred rocks can be sexed, but any more?

    My alternative and possibly crazy plan is to give her day old Keats instead. There are some available nearby and I think she'd raise them fine. I have always wanted Guinea fowl, although I know nothing at all about them except they can be quite naughty!! This would remove the problem of sexing I guess, as my plan would be to start a Guinea flock that would turn semi-wild & live in the bush around our property. Is this feasible, and if so how many should I get? How long would they stay in my small coop (do I need to build a bigger one), or would they move off to the trees as soon as they are big enough? Will the other chickens be ok (I kept my broody with the flock from the start and there were never any issues with Frankie)? So many questions ....

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions. I have a couple of weeks to make a decision, as prof has only been sitting in the nest for 2 days so I want to give her time before 'hatching'.



  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It sounds like you have chatted to the breeder about sexing chicks and they are unwilling to do it for you. There is probably a good reason and they are probably more of an expert at it than you. There are some autosexing breeds like legbars but I don’t know all of them and won’t try listing them.

    You can get a strong hint at sex with any barred breed where you can see the spot. The males have two barred genes and the females have only one, so the spot is bigger on the males than the females. The problem is that what is “spot” and what is “other” around the edge isn’t always really clear. Speckledhen had a thread with photos on that several years back. Still if you have several to choose from and get the ones with the smaller clear spots your odds are really good.

    A few chicks stand out as male from hatch. With some experience you can tell by posture, body conformation, and attitude that certain chicks are male. Unfortunately the same is not as true for females. You can get some hints from posture and body conformation that certain chicks might be female but some cockerels can look and act that way. Once you get some experience with this your odds aren’t horrible but I certainly would not advocate a rookie trying this. The vast majority of chicks are going to fall into the middle ground anyway where you are not sure, but you are just looking for a few. Still I would not rely on this if you have other options. I’m sometimes sure of males, I’m practically never sure of females. To me the best this does is improve your odds a bit. No guarantees for sure, even with some experience.

    Some people may tell you to check the wing feathers. Don’t trust that. There is a science behind feather-sexing day olds. The parents have to be set up correctly genetically for it to work. Unless the breeder maintains two separate flocks specifically set up for feather-sexing it is not to be trusted at all.

    To establish a self-sustaining flock you need males and females. You did not mention self-sustaining so that may not matter to you. When you hatch you get no guarantees as to how many of either sex you will get. Very few of my hatches are anywhere close to split 50-50. I know of no way to sex keats so the same odds apply. I’ve never had keats. I’d suggest more keats than less, partly because predators are likely to cause attrition, but don’t have any real suggestions as to numbers. Another alternative is to get hatching eggs and let her hatch them.

    I have not raised keats but I have turkeys. The chickens did not attack the poults or anything like that. I’d expect her to have no problems raising them with the flock.

    I have no idea when they will turn semi-wild or even if they will. My limited experience with guineas is that a neighbor had some when I was growing up. Those were probably a bit more than semi-wild and roamed great distances. Beautiful birds and great flyers, but they can be noisy.
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    I'd suggest popping into the Guinea section of the forum and doing some research. I had Guineas, and I did not care for them, but lots of people adore them (and they are great a pest removal, especially ticks). But, my Guineas greatest joy in life was terrorizing my chickens and turkeys and they were raised with them. I intended to have a semi-wild, free roaming flock as well, but they didn't like that plan and would immediately relocate themselves back to my chicken coop no matter how long I shut them up or locked them out.

    They also prefered roosting on the roof of my house and on top of our vehicles to the trees. Which is why I used to have them, and now I don't.....
    1 person likes this.
  4. jingles

    jingles In the Brooder

    Jul 31, 2015
    Thanks for those thoughts. I have Seen that a lot of people on this forum 'used to have' Guineas, and my husband is not too tolerant of trouble animals. Maybe I should stick with chickens for now :).

    It is a Shame I can only have a chance at sexing barred rocks (I'd love some wyandotes & RIR), but I'll talk to the breeder and see what I can do. It's not that he won't sex, he has just never bothered and must have close to 1000 birds wandering around his property :).

    I'd love to have a self sustaining flock, but am a vegetarian so do not eat chicken. If there was a way to have a flock with multiple roosters I would do this no problem, but from everything I've read the ratio of males to females has to be right or there will be trouble, and as egg ratios tend to be not in the girls favour it just wouldn't work. I might be able to find good homes for a couple of Roos, but it would feel wrong to not eat them myself and pass them on to someone who will.

    Bring on in-egg sex determination!!



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