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How to determine the sex of a chick, pullet, or adult chicken

How to determine the sex of a chick, pullet, or adult chicken

Determining the sex of chickens is of prime importance for commercial poultry farms who eliminate or cull the unwanted sex because they are not necessary for the kind of poultry production they are in.
Professionals known as chick sexers are called in to do the job. For farms who concentrate on supplying eggs commercially, male chicks are usually culled within days to reduce costs. Female chicks, meanwhile, are given optimal nutrition to prepare them for their role as prolific commercial layers as early on as possible. It is also important to determine the sex of a chicken to provide the correct nutritional needs for optimal chicken health.

Methods of Determining Sex in Chicks

Vent Sexing

Vent Sexing or vent sorting is the most common method employed by professional chicken sexers to determine the sex of baby chicks. In this method, the chick is held and the lower abdomen is gently squeezed to evacuate it of feces so that the cloaca is seen from the outside. With their trained eye, they are able to discern if the chick examined has a bump protruding from the cloacal folds. A hatchling is a cockerel if this so-called rudimentary sex organ known as the “male process” is present. If no bump or only a shallow depression is obvious, the hatchling is a female. This takes a lot of effort and practice and backyard breeders may not even get half of their guesses right but professional chicken sexers can give a 95 percent guarantee or more about the chicks they sex.

Color Sorting

Chickens that are cross-bred do not need to be vent sexed to determine if they are male or female. Their color can do the job. For this method to be accurate, however, the roosters and hens mated are very specific and the breeds may not be interchanged for both the male and female chickens. Here’s a simplified way to do color sorting:

Gold Breed roosters (Rhode Island Reds, buff varieties of Leghorns, Minorcas, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks and Cochins) mated to silver and penciled hens (White Wyandotte, Columbian Wyandotte, Silver-laced Wyandotte, Silver-penciled Wyandotte, Columbian Plymouth Rock, Silver-penciled Plymouth Rock, Light Sussex, Light Brahma and Dark Brahma) produce females that are buff or red in color and males that are white or smoky.

Meanwhile, Barred Rock hens mated to any brown-head, black or buff rooster have female offsprings that are all black, including beaks, shanks and toes. The male chicks are black but with white head spots and yellow-colored beaks, shanks and toes.

Wing Feather Sorting

The sex of chicks in Mediterranean roosters mated with American or Asiatic hen breeds or the English Orpington hens can also be determined by the amount of feathering they have when they hatch. Females or pullets come out with their wings already clearly developed and already visible. Males or cockerels, meanwhile, have no wing feathers at all or only have a little bit at the tip. Wing feather sorting can only be employed for about a week or so since the males catch up with the females with their feathering after about a week and a half.

Methods of Determining Sex in Full-Grown Chickens

Cockerels are generally bigger than pullets. They also have bigger combs, more pointed tails and are normally marked by bigger hackles. Generally, they are the ones that crow and are easily seen as the ones with prouder bearings. They also have colorful feathering compared to the hens. Hens have rounded feathers, are smaller and of course, they are the ones that lay eggs.

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