Why do Haehne have Wattles
How to tell a rooster about a hen (is it a boy or a girl?)
So how do you determine the gender of those fluff balls that have just hatched in your incubator? And how do you differentiate between adults?
- Sexing a hussy can be simple (sex link chick) or it can be a mysterious art that takes years to perfect (vent sexing).
In this article, we're going to give you some background behaviors and techniques that you can use to identify the sex of your chickens.
We hope this will be helpful for the new chickens and maybe for some of you "oldtimers" too! Once you've read this article, we hope that you too can tell a rooster about a hen.
It is important to have a general idea of what happens when as far as plumage development goes, otherwise how do you know what to look for?
Here are some milestones to refresh your memory:
- Week 1-first feathers emerge. Down will be gone most of the time by week 5.,
- Week 7-9 - partial molting and development of new feathers, establishing the pecking order
- Weeks 5-15-gangly teenage stage-characteristic behaviors begin to show
- Week 13 - adult feathers begin to come
- Week 16-20 - growth slows down, maturity approaches. Pullets can begin to squat when you stroke them. Roosters start crowing
This is not an all-inclusive list. It's just to give you an idea of the developmental stages in chicks.
For a more detailed overview, read this article.,
Now that you know what to expect, before we look at how to tell a rooster from a hen, let's look at the different methods of chick intercourse.
Methods of having sex with chicks
- Venting the sex
Sex venting is when the "hen sex" drives the poop out of the cesspool to see the sex characteristics of the bird.
Chicken sex people undergo special schooling to do what they do. It sounds simple, but in fact it takes years of practice and is considered as an innate art form as it is a learned skill.,
There are many variables in venting sexing a chick-even the professionals only get it right about 90% of the time.
If done incorrectly it could result in serious injury or death to the chick - so please, do this carefully and gently, and after proper training.
- Sex links
Knowledgeable poultry farmers used the Down Color method to sex their chicks long before the term "sex link" became common.
It was first noted and written by Professor R. C. Punnett, who noted that certain combinations of rooster over hen gave the new hatchling a specific marker for boys or girls.
As an example of black sex links - a solid color cock over a barricaded woman gives you cocks with a white dot on their heads.
This method of sex only works with first-generation sex links. If you mate a sex link to a sex link, you won't be able to sex the chick as easily.
For breeds that have, for example, a barrier or cuckoo pattern - Dominiques or Barred Rocks - breeding will result in young chicks with a large white or yellow spot on the head.,
Some breeds, such as the catfish, show dorsal stripes as chicks. In the females these lines are quite clear and well defined with a triangular dark spot on the head; In the boys they are less clear, a bit fuzzy and no head mark.
These breeds are known as autosexing breeds.
Needless to say, mixing breeds will give you results that are different from the norm.
- Feather / Wing Sexing
You may hear people say they can sex any chicken by looking at the wing feathers, while it is possible to replace some breeds with their wing feathers, it won't work for all breeds.
- Old Wives Tales
Some of the arcane ways people used to predict the sex of a chick are through a needle on a piece of string, a ring tied with cotton thread, or the shape of the egg.
These methods don't work scientifically, they're just guesswork - but they can be right 50% of the time!
Sexing Adult Birds (How to Tell a Rooster from a Hen)
Sexing adult birds is for the most part is relatively easy as long as you know what to look for!
Roosters are built and dressed to be noticed - the plumage, posture, and crow all say, "Look at me, am I something?" That's all it takes to draw the ladies to your side.
Chickens are far more conservative in their dressing - less lightning, quieter, and more careful., This is self-preservation and works pretty well when predators are in search of chicken food!
Comb and Wattles
A taps comb will usually be much larger, more developed and vibrant red. The comb is part of its attraction to the ladies - they tend to choose taps with large lively combs as this is a good indicator of health and vitality.
Its wattles will also be much larger and redder than the chicken wattles. Again, this is all part of his presenting look of being strong and a good man to mate with.,
The feathers that flow down the neck onto the shoulders are known as hackles. The feathers will be shaped differently for a boy and a girl.
The chickens' chopping feathers are long with rounded ends. The feathers on the roosters are longer and point towards the ends. There is the appearance of a "cloak" over the shoulders in some breeds.
You will also find that roosters tend to have more vivid colors in their plumage. Chickens tend to have muted colors so they don't stand out and avoid a predator's eye - this is a good survival strategy.,
Saddle springs are something only the boys have. As the name suggests, they start in the area where you would put a saddle on a horse, about the middle of the back.
These feathers are long, flowing and pointed. You will find that they cascade on either side of the tail, leaving a very slender look for the fur tails.
The difference in tail feathers is usually very noticeable. The ladies have erect tails, rounded at the tips, and usually much the same length.
The young will wear "sickle feathers" at the tail end. They are so named because they resemble the shape of a sickle. The sickles grow up and curve over the tail, giving the tail a feather-like appearance.
You can read everything about spring differences here.
Legs and feet
Roosters' legs and feet are generally more robust than chickens. They are thicker, and you can see spur buds even in a young rooster. Spores do not indicate a male as older chickens will breed them too.
So, essentially, the rooster is all about its looks and protruding strength. It's usually reflected in his demeanor as well.,
Chickens are dowdy by comparison. Most (not all) women need to blend in very well with their surroundings. They will sit on a nest for 3 weeks and then take care of their chicks so they don't have to be prominent or visible.
Problem breeds for sex
There are several races that do not give up their identity easily. It can take several weeks or months before you can clearly identify boys or girls.
One such breed is the Breda poultry. The bird does not have a comb, girls may or may not have wadding - the boys do., You are a slow growing bird who takes time to develop sexual characteristics.
By the time they start developing hackle, saddle, and sickle feathers you just can't be sure, so check out a timeline of 5-6 months before you can definitely see your birds.
Observing their behavior will likely give you clues before they begin developing physical properties. A breeder will surely have some idea from watching the chicks, but it takes time and practice - and even they can be wrong on occasion!
Silkies are also notoriously hard to sex., Again, it's the chick behavior above all that gives you clues as to what sex they are for.
There is no quick way to tell the genders of these breeds without much practice and observation.
If you are a smart “chicken watcher” you will have noticed the typical behaviors of the different sexes. These observations can be applied to any breed and will give you a head start on sexing.
Typical behaviors of the different sexes
Chickens and roosters have certain behaviors that can help you have sex., When you have a "barnyard mix" like I do for my shifts, the more traditional methods of sex often don't work as well.
Roosters are getting more assertive and bolder - they're usually in front with the pullets behind. They will stand more upright and, when frightened, stand their ground and chirp. They are more curious and more likely to investigate something new in the stable / incubator.
Chickens tend to keep a lower profile - they are literally trying to go unnoticed. When scared, they will usually crouch and be silent.,
During the feathering, roosters tend to get "blotchy" while the girls invade more evenly. In most breeds, the saddle and hackle feathers begin to develop in the young around week 8 - this is not true for all breeds.
If you have the time to sit and quietly watch the chicks without them knowing, you'll get a good feel for boys and girls in the pen of their interactions together.
Another old fairy tale is that a pointed hen's egg produces a rooster while a round egg hatches a hen., This is not factual and should not depend on it to determine the gender of your girl. Once you have an incubator full of peeping chicks, it can be quite difficult to determine which chick came from which egg.
For some breeds, you can tell the difference in the combs of the roosters versus the chickens within a few weeks. Combs can be a little more prominent and even a darker shade of red than the chickens. After 3 months, some roosters have spurs or a young boy on the back of their leg.
Within the first week some chicks begin to show behavior that screaming rooster vs hen., I've seen young Roos chicks alerting them to the presence of food or treats. Often, but not always, young cocks behave more courageously than the chickens in the incubator. Plus, if you put your hand in the incubator, they won't retreat and they can even challenge you.
- Sexing your chicks can be fun - it can also be frustrating. I like to watch the chicks interact with each other. I've found that this gives me a much better idea of which boy or girl, but what the pecking order will be for that particular group,
When you have first generation Sex Link chicks, you don't even have to work up a sweat to distinguish the sexes - the birds make it easy for you.
In general, if you've bought from a hatchery and indicated what sex birds you want, here's what you get. Remember, Chicken Sexers' have a 10% failure rate - hopefully it's not your batch!
Personally, I've never tried wing sexing. Some people do it with consummate ease, but many struggle with it, especially if it's the first time.
Sexing adults is all about looks., Roosters tend to exude confidence and fearlessness, while the chickens are usually more submissive and calm.
Well, we have given you the basics of having sex with your chicks and chickens. Please don't be disappointed if a particular method doesn't work for you. Sometimes you need to try a different method, or just practice the one you plan to use until you get it right.
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