When I hatched my own silkie, I studied and studied about how to sex them. I read that it was almost impossible to sex them and that you had to wait for a crow or an egg. Raising and watching them helped me pick out certain traits that only belong to roosters or hens. These traits can appear from around 6 weeks old. Now, I will share them and make you a silkie sexpert in minutes!!!
- male traits
- female traits
- where to look
- myths about silkie sexing
- other options
- helpful links
1) Sickles (tail feathers) start in between the tail and the lower back and extend longer than the fluffy tail. They are usually black or a shiny blue or green.
2) The comb is U shaped and goes taller than the beak.
3) Wattles start growing at a young age
4) Feathers called streamers will extend further from the crest.
5) Feathers on the lower back droop down to the sides, aka the saddle
6) Neck feathers called hackles are long
7) Red on the shoulders and chest, commonly in partridge silkies
1) the sickle feathers grow in a ∩ shape and do not extend further than the tail.
2) Comb is thin and goes up in 2 parallel lines and join into a small walnut. It’s the same height as the beak
3) No wattle growth until around 3-4 months old
4) Crest will generally be round and neat, with exceptions
Where to look
The face, tail and lower back will give the most clues
When looking for roosters, this diagram helps, with the highlighted bits being the parts to look at.
Myths about silkie sexing
- If the back claw points upwards, it’s female. And if it points down, its male
- Longer beaks mean rooster and short beaks mean hen
- If there is a lump on the leg it means rooster***
- what shape the egg is before it has hatched. When the egg is longer and more narrow, it supposedly male. When the egg is rounder, it’s supposed to be female
- tying a small weight to a string and hovering it over the chick. if the weight swings in a circular motion, it’s female. If the weight swings in a linear motion, the chick is male.
***all chickens have spur lumps, but the Roosters ones grow into spurs. There is the occasional spurred hen, but that’s a topic for another thread!!!!
Beak length, crest shape and leg thickness are true in some cases, but shouldn’t be relied on since there are lots of exceptions.
If you just can’t wait until they are 6 weeks old, there are ways to sex them sooner.
Vent Sexing- checking the reproductive organs of the chick. This is done by carefully holding a chick upside down and squeezing it so that it empties its body of fecal matter. A trained chicken sexer will be able to identify a slight bump that signifies that the chick is male.
I do not suggest this method as it can kill the chick if you are not properly trained.
DNA Testing- this can be performed with blood samples, feather samples and eggshell samples. If you send these samples to a lab, they will test for the Z chromosome or W chromosome in birds to determine their sex. Males will have only Z chromosomes and females will have ZW chromosome pairs. It is the females, not the males who determine the sex of the embryo.
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