Chicken Sex – Feather Sexing Day Old Chicks


I went out a little after daylight this morning and found that my broody hen had hatched 6 new members to add to my chicken flock. As is the normal percentage rate about 50% roosters – 50% pullets, I have 3 pullets and 3 roosters. She {the broody hen} is still setting on 6 eggs! Someone slipped a couple of extra eggs in her nest when I wasn’t looking.. At any rate I will give her until Friday night to hatch anymore viable eggs, then the remaining eggs go into the garbage and the hen will be put back in with the flock.

Chicken Sex is fairly easy to determine if you know the secret to feather sexing day old chicks. This is a visual examination of the chicks wing feathers to determine it’s sex. I found this site with all the information you will need in sexing your new day old chicks. Feather Sexing Chickens is provided by University of Missouri – Animal Sciences – College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

You can save a lot of time, money and effort by sexing day old chicks and only keeping the pullets. Unless you plan on raising the rooster for meat birds or you need a breeding rooster, it is best to sell or give away all the roosters that you hatch. It requires a great deal of time, effort and feed to get these birds to butcher weight. Click picture to Zoom-In
feather sexing chicks

One note of Caution: Feather sexing chickens can only be accomplished when the chicks are 1 or 2 days old. Birds grow so fast that by day 3 it is ‘Very’ difficult or impossible to use this method to determine the sex of chickens.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your comment(s)

43 responses to “Chicken Sex – Feather Sexing Day Old Chicks

  1. My baby chick’s are a little over three weeks old and 2 days ago when I got up in the morning one had literally grown a comb overnight. She/he also has had a “bald” spot that we thought was from the other baby chicks it had been living with, pecking it’s head, but it’s only grown larger and her temperament was very docile in the beginnning and is now extremely aggressive. The other chick has become very sweet. I noticed the comb right away because I am constantly holding them and looking them over for any signs that they might be roosters, as we were informed we won’t be able to tell until 8 weeks. They both are also forming little nubs on the sides of their legs, which I’m worried are the beginnings of talons!?!? We want hens for their eggs and are also not allowed to have roosters in the city we live in. Any help you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not wanting to sound heartless, if disposing of this sick / infected chick is not an option.
      I would first isolate that chick from my healthy chicks.
      Second, often you can cure fungus / mite problems by using a Q-tip and hydrogen peroxide, clean the affected area. Follow up the peroxide cleaning with a treatment of 70 percent alcohol.
      Do this once everyday until the infection / wound is cured.
      Also applying an antibiotic type cream may be helpful.
      Even if pecking is your problem, isolating and wound treatment is still a good idea.

      At 3 weeks of age what your seeing on their legs are most likely not developing spurs. Generally, comb size is the most reliable visual way to ID young roosters from pullets.

      Good luck
      Happy Gardening

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      • I’m positive it’s not pecking. We’ve watched them very closely and the one with the bald patch is the aggresor. Do you have any suggestions on disposing of the chick? Also, should I get another new baby chick, even though it will be much younger since I only have the two? I’m afraid that Pepper will be quite lonely on her own, and also because I wanted two hens for the eggs and pets for my daughter. Thank you for your help
        and knowledge. I am so glad I found your blog. I would not want this chick to suffer and be sick like this. I wonder if that’s part of his change in behavior?

        Liked by 1 person

        • ‘Not Pecking’ My recommendation is to kill the bird, bury it in your compost pile or bury in a flower bed. A small bird will decompose very quickly.
          Or – place the dead bird in a ziplock type bag and send it to your landfill.

          Note: A sick bird will often isolate it’s self from other birds or sometimes will turn violent and attack other birds.
          Either way, there is a good chance it can / will infect your healthy bird.

          I have had good success introducing smaller chicks to my existing birds.
          Do Keep In Mind, the new bird will need to kept warm under a heat light for 2 or near 3 weeks of age.

          Good Luck

          Happy omelet making.

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          • Thanks for all your help. I was able to take it to a local feed store and they are going to take care of it for me. I now have 2 new hens. I gave them the other one as well since they thought it was most likely a rooster as well. I’m looking forward to many omelet and lots of other egg dishes hopefully sometime I think around the holidays!?!?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Glad you arrived at an easy fix for your sick chick problem.

              Don’t forget to tell your friends about service received from your feed store employees.

              Happy Gardening

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  2. just came across this while looking how to sex chicks on the internet, glad I found it,picking up my chicks tomorrow evening hopefully will be pullets and not cockerels as i have too many of them already. thanks for the info :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grin I only need 2 hens, most of the time to produce all the eggs me, daughter and son-n-law eat or bake with.
      However I generally get 2 or 3 new pullets every spring. That works out well. When a hen is about 2 years their egg production starts to fall off a bit.

      Happy gardening and good luck with your new chicks.

      Like

  3. I saw this a long time ago and have been using it. (I always compare the pic with my chick) I have missed once!!!!!!!! I thought it was just me about the after day1 MAYBE 2 you can no longer tell!!! BEST chick tip EVER!!!

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  4. I see the German government is near to perfecting a method of sexing eggs rather than chicks! Good to see you back again. WT

    Like

  5. I used to feather sex chicks for a hatchery.
    Shocked there is a shortage of staff, ive moved since and dont believe there is anywhere close by id love to do it again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Grin … Timing is everything. When your Comment arrived at my computer, I was in the process of posting a picture of my 8 new chicks.

      Good eating and Happy Gardening

      Like

  6. Hello again: when I first read your story I remembered the Japanese guys I met in Edmonton Alberta, who’d come over to sex chickens. That was too long ago to count, but still, this was today’s newspaper in England: they are using the same method as back then, Maybe yours would be quicker, less invasive: but does it work for all breeds? Will T http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-chicken-sexing-in-crisis-experts-needed-to-spot-a-very-very-small-difference-10096749.html?origin=internalSearch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Long story short. I was taught to wing feather sex chicks by my great grandpa. This was at the end of the great depression and after WWII food rationing ended.
      If I really pay attention to my task I am about 99.5+ percent accurate On Day Old Chicks. Rated drops on 2 Day Old chicks and by day 3 I can’t correctly sex the chicks.
      I have never found that this feathering sexing method was effected by what breed I was working with.
      I hope this answers your question.
      Grin Happy chick sex—-ing.

      Like

  7. This is an old posting I know, but… I’ve bred chickens all my life and NEVER knew that!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. so glad I saw this post. I had a cousin call me last night asking this question as he is getting some chickens. Thanks for sharing!!

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  10. Very interesting! I’m going to have to give it a try if we ever have any that hatch.

    Like

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  13. This is really handy to know as we have had sooo many chcks turn out to be yet more roosters !

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  14. The Belmont Rooster

    Well, I have been in the hatchery business, I learned to vent sex day old chicks, and I majored in Poultry Science at the University of Missouri. I think feather sexing can only be accomplished on certain strains of commercial poultry. In my day, feather sexing could only be done on special commercial strains of White Leghorns and broiler crosses.. Color sexing can be done on sex-link crosses and pretty well on Barred Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds (or Production Reds) if you know what to look for. What breed do you have that you can feather sex? But you did spark my curiosity. I may have to email one of my old professors making people think they can feather sex any breed. The hen in the photo is a Columbian Plymouth Rock, which one of my competitors claimed he crossed with New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red, to produce a buff sex-link. You can cross Barred Rock females with a Rhode Island Red male and get a black sex-link. In my hatchery, I used Silver factor White Rock females with RED males and we were the first to offer the buff sex-link known as the Cinnamon Queen. Delaware females crossed wit New Hamps or R.I. Red will also produce a buff sex-link which. We were also the first to offer the black sex-link named the Rock Red. FYI, we also first named the Cherry Egger.

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    • Re The Belmont Rooster – Just for the record, I am not nor do I claim to be any kind of chicken expert.
      I learned to feather sex chick from a fact sheet published be the University of Missouri about 15 years ago.
      I have good luck sexing birds as long as they are no older that 2 days old, new hatched is better.
      My success rate is about 99 percent on any breed that I may have in the coop.
      I have tried vent sexing ducks and geese, but the fact is I just don’t have the required knowledge or experience to be successful.
      Thanks for your comment(s) and taking time to visit my humble blog

      PS Maybe you could in your spare time be a Guest Author on my Town & Country Gardening blog. Well just a thought!

      Like

      • The Belmont Rooster

        I would be happy to. I am just still a little confused about being able to feather sex any breed of chick… If that were true, why did we hire chick sexors at the hatchery (LOL). Sorry, if I sounded rude, and I apologize to you and your blog readers. Those were the good ‘ol days that went wrong (and not on my part), so that is why I get a little bent out of shape. I just remembered how old I was and probably all my old professors have passed anyway… These days I avoid the mirror as much as possible.

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  15. I am learning the best stuff on your blog :)

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  16. Reblogged this on Tales From Riverside: Compost and Custard and commented:
    How to tell what sex your day old chicks are.

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  17. You can actually tell as soon as they hatch. Little roosters will have shorter wings than hens. Once they get more feathers you can look at the neck and saddle feathers (feathers on the back between the wings). Roosters will have a pointed tip on the these feathers but hens will be rounded. The exception to this is seabright chicks. Both male and female of this breed have rounded feather tips. The difference in these feathers can usually be seen before other distinguishing features become apparent.

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  18. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens but I never knew this.

    Like

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  22. If I ever decide to grow chickens, I will remember this! – Kaye

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  23. Libby Keane

    I had no idea you could tell the difference right away. I can’t tell you how many “chickens” we’ve had turn into roosters on the sly! LOL. Well, we’ve got a brooder sitting on 6, and I will most definitely use this method. Thanks for a great post.

    Like

    • Re: Libby Keane – Thanks for finding time to visit my tiny blog.
      Grinning, just don’t wait to long..by the time they are 3 days old this wing feather sexing method will no longer work, by day 3 both sexes wing feathers will look the same.

      Like

  24. Just found this information on sexing chicks to be very helpful, I wish I had seen this when my chicks were younger as they are now a week old. However I have more chicks to be hatched so will definately refer to this with them, thank you so much.

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    • Thank you for finding time to visit my tiny blog.
      Grin… Yes… I also at times find chicks sexy, well what really mean is, sometimes I need to sex chicks to sort out who stays and who goes!
      ~Pobept

      Like

  25. I am lovin’ this blog! Everything is so well-written, so informative, I’ll be back again and again for more of your organic brain food. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!
    Wendy

    Like

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