Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Rounders: Boys and Girls

I had to smile a little the other day when I heard a very knowledgable grade schooler explain how to tell the difference between boy and girl chickens.
"Boys make lots of noise and girls wear aprons."
Mr Bossypants

Buster and Robin
What I've learned is that sexing chickens is sometimes a little more complicated than that.  So far we've been lucky in that our chickens are, mostly, of a variety that has feather sexlink at hatching.  In other words, the pattern of the down, i.e. stripes or solids, can give you a good idea of if you have a boy or girl.  Of course periodically you have an odd ball or one whose stripes are so faint as to go unnoticed.

The chicks are now a month old and in many cases, their sexual characteristics are starting to present themselves.  Fred, Twister, and, of course, Buster are all developing combs.  The girls, particularly Robin, Jet, and Amy, are all developing a more rounded look of a hen. 

So how do the Pro's do it?  Some of the more expensive hatcheries actually sex their chicks.  That's right: they peek under the day old chick's butt down and check the vent (cloaca) for a pair of bumps.  At best this is about 95% accurate.  (To read more, check out the online article at Mother Earth News.)  We just let nature take its course, all the while hoping for girls.

waking up from nappytime

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