Thursday, 5 July 2012

How do you know if your chicks will be roosters?

Roosters to re-home 3m/o
This week I have advertised our 2 young roosters for re-homing. These were the 2 birds we kept from our first hatchlings. And as our first hatchlings I admit that I am making a bit of an effort to re-home them, as opposed eating them. Yes this is a fact of raising chickens, but as our first I guess on some sentimental or emotional level I just want to give them a chance.
The Sussex should going to a new home on Friday- thanks to Facebook and a page Mackay Poultry & Waterfowl for sale. The other, being a cross may not be so fortunate.
My efforts to re-home them meant a friend asked, how can you tell a rooster from a hen? As we have identified ours as roosters, although they are not crowing yet.


So I thought I'd share my experience on this.

Now there are plenty of people who have given us advice on this. And suggested ways to determine the sex of younger chicks, but most seem to be old wives tales.
1st hatchlings
Some such as males are bigger, show their combs and wattles earlier. If you pass a foreign object over the birds the males will stand up, whilst the hens will duck and hide, all sound reasonable or to have some merit. Though to be honest it’s still guess work! I am not convinced they are truly accurate.


Unless you vent them; which can be dangerous to the bird (if performed incorrectly), and this still has a margin of error- hatcheries employ professional to do this. Or are breed from sex-linked stock; which appears to be more effective, but not useful if you’re not cross breeding ( see links) then the answer is (like us) you just have to wait.
Sussex Rooster (being re-homed) 11w/o

When they are older 6-8 weeks onwards; some may need to be a little older, as some are easier to distinguish than
others. Then I look for the following;













Pointed neck feathers, hens have rounded feathers.
 

"Pointed", long think feathers are visible
on our Sussex Rooster (approx 8m/o)
Where the female sussex has rounded neck feathers



















Curly tail, again females have small upright tufts, males develop a more flamboyant display. Males also tend to be more colourful, this is common amongst many birds, though again this can be hard unless you have something to compare with.

Indian Game/ Dark Cornish- Rooster closest, hens behind
Male has; curled tail, more colouful, larger comb & wattles.


Larger wattles and combs are a good guide, but a female will also develop these. And if there is no male in a flock, one may be more prominent than others, they sort of assume the alpha role.

Hens, Sussex & Wellsomer (approx 6m/o)
You can clearly see thier feather patterns

Males will also fight with other males, young males may live together for a while, but eventually they will need separating. But even hens have their pecking order, so the odd squabble is normal. This sort of throws a spanner in the works, if this was your only evidence.  But this may be useful confirmation if supported by some of the other identifiers and you’re still not sure.

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Or you just wait until he starts to crow!