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The Facts About Chick Sexing!

May 25, 2008
Chick sexing is a method of determining the sex of either chicks or other hatchlings. Big commercial hatcheries perform chick sexing to put the chicks on the right track from the beginning, depending on the purpose for which they are being raised. For example, when raising for eggs, males are unwanted. For meat purposes, both male and female chicks are needed to raise hybrid birds. After chick sexing is done, many hatcheries kill the birds of the unwanted sex immediately to avoid future expenses.

The people who can actually determine the sex of birds are highly trained professionals, known as chick sexers or chicken sexers.

There are two methods by which chicks are sexed; feather sexing and vent sexing. Feather sexing is based on the difference in feather characteristics and vent sexing is based on identifying the sexual organs visually.

Feather sexing is based on the characteristics of the feathers that differ from male to female. It is easy to learn, but the appearance of the feathers is usually determined by some genetic traits present in the chick strain. Many chicken strains do not have the characteristics of feather sexing and feathering of both sexes appear the same to the normal person and only trained chick sexers can distinguish.

Vent sexing is also known as venting and is a difficult process because the sexual organs of the birds are located within the body and not easily distinguishable. The copulatory organs of chickens can be determined as a male or female by the shape, and venting involves squeezing the feces out of the chick, to open up the rectum, which allows the chick sexer to see if the bird has a small bump. This small bump indicates that it is a male. Some females also have very small bumps.

When compared to both the methods of chick sexing above, the easier and more convenient method, and usually one preferred by small poultry owners, is to wait until the chicks start showing other characteristics of their sex. In male chicks, the wattles and combs will grow larger than that of the females and the head will also be a different shape and masculine looking. The female will be smaller than the male and is more feminine looking. In some breeds, the feathers of each sex also develop a distinctive color pattern that makes it easier to identify the sex. This type of sexing based on other characteristics can be done at about 4-6 weeks of age.

Chick sexing is a complicated process and can only be done by trained professionals who undergo a lengthy training. This is the reason; small flock owners may not be able to afford engaging the services of these chick sexers.
About the Author
Matthew Smith has been working with poultry for many years. Advice is offered on chickens facts
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