HOW TO SEX CHICKENS
Determine Male / Female Chicks - Pullet / Cockerel - Hen / Rooster
BABY CHICK: VENT SEXING
Breeds include: All standard breed chickens
(Bantam breeds excluded)
Vent sexing should only be attempted by professional sexers. There is a risk of prolapsing the chicks vent resulting in death if done incorrectly.
Venting involves squeezing the feces out of the day old chick, which opens up the chick's anal vent (called a cloaca). The professional sexer looks to see if the chick has a small "bump", which would indicate that the chick is a male. While much smaller, female can have bumps which contribute to 10% inaccuracy in sexing. Vent sexing only works on chicks 1-2 days old. After that, the chick's lower digestive tract will distend from eating an growing, blocking the sex organ from view.
Vent sexing is not available for breeds such as Silkies and usually sold only as straight runs. Which is why our offering of female sexing coverage for Silkies is so unique.
BABY CHICK: AUTO SEXING
Breeds include: 55 Flowery Hens, Bielefelder, Cream Legbar
Auto sexing breeds assist with determining males by feather color. Males are lighter in color and have a white spot on their heads. Females are darker in color. This is the most desired low cost with high accuracy sexing method. Not to be confuse with sex link chicks commonly offered by hatcheries. Sex link only works for the first generation of chicks. Auto sexing works generation after generation.
BABY CHICK: WING SEXING
Breeds include: Barred Plymouth Rock, Coronation Sussex, Rhode Island, Speckled Sussex, and Wyandotte
Not all breeds are able to be wing sexed. The gene must be bred in their DNA. The rate of feathering and plumage color is carried on the Z chromosome. When the primary feathers (bottom row closest to the wing’s edge) are longer than the coverts (top row of feathers), the chick is female. When the primary feathers are the same length or shorter than the converts, the chick is male.
Wing sexing has an accuracy rate of 90 percent, depending on the bloodlines. Once the newborn chick’s down dries, the coverts and primary feathers are examined. Sexing by the difference in the growth of the primary feathers is only possible before 3 days of age. After that, the cockerels’ wing feathers catch up with the pullets’ making sexing impossible.
BABY CHICK: CREST SEXING
Breeds include: Polish
The Polish breed is known for its headdress called a crest. Inspecting the shape of the crest reveals their sex. A female chick's crest is round and full and located at the front of her head, while a male's is oval and runs more toward the back of his head.
BABY CHICK: SIGHT SEXING RHODE ISLAND
Male chicks have lighter shade on their down over the web of the wing, but female chicks do not. After the chick's down is shed, it will no longer be visible. The size of the spot varies greatly, leading to some inaccuracy.
BABY CHICK: SIGHT SEXING BARRED PLYMOUTH ROCK
The "barring" plumage pattern on Barred Plymouth Rock chicks allows the males and females to be differentiated at birth. The white dot on a female’s head is a defined spot while the male’s white dot is an undefined spot often running into his neck. The color of their legs and feet are also different as chicks. Male leg pigment is also lighter than his female counterpart.
BABY CHICK: DNA TESTING
Breeds include: All Breeds (including bantams such as Silkies)
DNA can determine sex using feathers, two or three drops of blood or eggshells from newly hatched birds. If you do not want to wait for your chick to grow older to confirm sex, A DNA test is the only 99.9% accurate sexing method that applies to all breeds of chickens.
Some breeds, especially Silkies, are not able to be sexed by external characteristics. For those living in the city, our sexing guarantee coverage helps ensure the family doesn’t get stuck trying to home an unwanted rooster. However, for some families, the emotional connection is strong after raising the chick for 3-6 months an surrendering their beloved rooster can be avoided through chick DNA sexing. DNA testing is a larger financial investment and is typically considered for families that do not want to develop a long term bond before identifing the sex of their chicken.
When ordering a DNA sexed chick from us, it can take up to 2 weeks for results. We test multiple chicks to ensure at least 1 chick out of the testing group results in a female confirmation.
WEEK OLDS: TAIL FEATHER SEXING
Heavy chicken breed cockerell such as Asian, American, and English have tail feathers that are stumpy, curved; slow to develop. Mediterranean and other light Breed cockerell have tail feathers that are curved, but only slightly shorter and slower to develop than pullets.
Pullet tail feathers are long, straight; quick to develop.
JUVENILE CHICKENS: WADLES
Breeds include: All Breeds
Since chickens are not able to sweat, they cool themselves through blood circulation. Their waddles and combs are highly concentrated with capillaries and veins allowing overheated blood to pass through. The air cooled blood reduces the chicken’s internal temperature. Thus, waddles are a bright red color as they age.
Wattles are absent as newborns. Cockerels’ wattles develop and often begin to redden as early as 5-6 weeks of age. Hen wattles are a sign of maturity. Hens wattles will turn bright red/pink when closer to point of lay (4-9 months in age).
Note: Ayam Cemani and Silkie waddles and combs are black in color. Silkie cockerel waddles usually take longer to develop than other breeds.
JUVENILE CHICKENS: SINGLE COMB SEXING
Sexing at this age generally works best if you have multiples of the same breed to compare and contrast the development differences.
Breeds include: American Bresse, Ayam Cemani, Barnevelder, Barred Plymouth Rock, Bielefelder, Coronation Sussex, Cream Legbar, Frizzle Cochin, Isabel Orpington, Isbar (Silverudd’s Blues), Lavender Orpington, Marans, Rhode Island, Salmon Faverolle, Speckled Sussex, Swedish Flower Hen
Combs are absent as newborns. Cockerels’ combs develop and often begin to redden as early as 3 weeks of age. It is a nice big red flag making claim to being a male. As pullets develop combs they appear yellowish orange. However, cockerels’ combs redden as early as 5-6 weeks. Hens combs will turn bright closer to point of lay.
Note: Ayam Cemani single combs remain black. Thus, you can only judge by the size of comb and not the color.
JUVENILE CHICKENS: PEA COMB SEXING
Breeds include: Amerucana, Brahma, Easter Eggers
Pea combs appear at the base of the beak and extend towards the top of a chicken's head. Pea combs are smaller than other combs and are fairly tight against their heads. Males have three connected rows of caruncles that look like rows of peas side by side. Females have only 1 row. The "peas rows" are little bumps, and are uniform in shape and size as juveniles. As the bird matures the comb grows, sometimes losing its neat, ordered appearance and becoming a large globule on their head.
JUVENILE CHICKENS: FEATHER COLOR
Breeds include: 55 Flowery Hens, Barred Plymouth Rock, Bielefelder, Cream Legbar, Wheaten Marans, Salmon Faverolle
Auto Sexing male breeds such as 55 Flowery Hens, Barred Plymouth Rock, Bielefelder, and cream Legbar possess lighter feather color than their female counterparts.
Salmon Faverolle and Wheaten Marans can be sexed at 10-14 days of age by the wing color that develops. Males will only have black and white wing colors. Females have a mix of white, brownish, and limited black feathers on their wings.
ADULT CHICKENS: FEATHER SHAPE
Hackle Feather Sexing
Hens have rounded oval shape feathers on their necks. Roosters sport longer, more pointed, and narrower hackle feathers (located on the neck).
Saddle Feather Sexing
Saddle feathers are located in front of the tail. Both hens and roosters have main tail fathers, but only the males have saddle feathers. Once 3+ months old, roosters will have long and pointy saddle feathers, while a hen's will be rounded.
Crest Feather Sexing
Adult Polish can be easily distinguished by their crest shape. Female crests are round and globular, male crests are long and tapered. A male’s crest resembles an 80s’ rock star hair style. A female’s crest appears like a hairdo with fresh from removing their curlers.
ADULT CHICKENS: BEHAVIOR
All healthy roosters will eventually crow. While rare, it is possible that a hen will crow if raised in an all hen flock. Thus, crowing may not be a 100% sex indicator. With that said, you are not allowed a crowing hen within city limits. Your neighbor and laws care more about the noise. In our sexing guarantee coverage, we provide homes for the rare hens that crow to encourage peace with your neighbors.
Egg laying Sexing
Only hens can lay an egg. If she is laying, she is definitely a hen!