From the dirt to our plate; the trials and realities of first-time farm ownership

UPDATE:  Sexing Chicks On The 6th Week

If you read my blog on sexing chicks you also know there are various methods to sexing chicks.  One method I tried to use was tail feather sexing at 1-2 weeks.  In theory, the pullets (females) initially have a growth spurt which places their feather development ahead of the males.  Tails should be growing in on females first.  And, as all theories go, sometimes they are just that…a theory.


As my first batch of incubated chicks head into their 6th week of life it has become much easier to tell their sex.  At this point, male feather growth should have caught up with the females.  Male combs start taking on a pinkish red hue while female combs are more yellow and less developed.  The photo below clearly shows comb coloration differences between cockerels and pullets.


Due to comb color changes I’m quickly realizing that tail feather sexing at 1-2 weeks is not accurate.  Birds I initially thought to be females are now clearly male.  Even the white chick, originally thought to be a female, I am inclined to call male.  

With combs such as pea combs it is more difficult to determine the color change at this point.  I have one large bodied pea comb (suspected male) and one smaller bodied pea comb (most likely female).  

Larger body size at 6 weeks of age is also a very strong indicator that a chick is male.  4 out of my 6 birds originally thought to be female based on 1-2 week tail feather sexing are noticeably larger.  The odds are good, they are now confirmed males.  In the photo below, the larger bird on the left is my suspected pea comb male and the one on the right a pullet (female).


By combining both the comb and body size methods of sexing I can best determine male or female.  At this point it looks as if I should expect 3 males, 1 additional “suspected” male, and 2 females.  The exact opposite of what I was taught to expect when looking for early tail feather development. 

Of course as my birds grow I’ll know exactly what they are as they head into young adulthood.  I am also keeping a close watch on my second round of incubated chicks to test the 1-2 week feather sexing theory once again.  As of right now, I see 3 males and 3 females if I use the tail feather method.  I also looked closely at my barred rock head spots and foot color in this batch to verify what I think I’m seeing.

Time will tell.  I’ll keep you all updated!

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