Sexing Chicks: How do I know which is which
Sexing chicks can be achieved a couple of ways: 1) vent sexing or 2) feather sexing. Both ways have issues making it unacceptable for use by the small flock operator. Vent sexing relies on the visual recognition and the appearance of sexual body parts. Feather sexing is dependant on variations in feather attributes at hatch time. A short description of both methods is as follows.
Vent Sexing Chicks:
Vent sexing of chicks at hatching is harder than most animals. It is because the sexual organs of poultry are situated in the body and therefore are not very easily noticeable. The copulatory organ of chicks can be recognized as female or male by appearance. But you will find more than 15 various patterns to consider. Therefore, not many people will have enough knowledge of identifying the sex of birds due to the challenging characteristics of the process. The majority of these highly skilled people have employment with big professional hatcheries. The education to become a chick sexer can be so hard and prolonged that the average poultry owner finds it very hard to do.
Feather Sexing Chicks:
Feather sexing is you look at the differences in the feathers. They will be different from male and female chicks. The procedure is quite simple to learn, though the feather appearances are based on specifically chosen hereditary features that are found in the certain chick strains. Many strains (breeds) of chick would not have these feather sexing qualities and feathering of both male and female would appear the same.
Probably the easiest way of sexing chicks for the small poultry operator is to let them grow a little. They will start showing the basic differences in the male and female chicks. In males, the combs and wattles will grow to be bigger than those found on females and also the head will end up a lot more angular and macho looking. The female will stay small compared to the male and is more refined or female looking. In certain breeds the feathers of each one will be a color pattern that identifies it. These breeds of chicks are the same feather-sex strains of chickens discussed above. Sexing based upon these secondary sex features normally can be done after chicks are about 4-6 weeks of age.
Below is a video that shows the whole process for a commercial hatchery. Feather sexing is demonstrated at 3:30
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