The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Determining the sex of chicks

Dominique or Black Sex-Link ChickDue to the new trend of backyard chicken-keepers, figuring out the sex of chicks at birth has turned into big business.  Most people with a small flock of chickens can only handle one rooster or they'll end up in a lot of cock fights, while other people want only male birds since males put on weight faster and thus make better broilers.  If you check out the major online hatcheries, you'll see that you can buy all male chicks, all female chicks, or a straight run (mix of both.) 

The eggs I was given are from two breeds that are easy to sex at birth.  I believe all of the eggs have Dominique fathers while some have Dominique mothers and some have Black Sex-Link mothers.  In Dominickers (as Dominiques are fondly called), yellow feet and a diffused white spot on the head mark males, while grayer feet and a compact white spot mark females.  Black Sex-Links are even easier to tell apart (that being the whole point of the hybrid breed), with males but not females showing a white spot on their heads.

Chances are that Wednesday's chick is a male, due to its yellow feet and white spot. That means we won't get too attached and will instead start calling him "Thanksgiving Dinner."

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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most backyarders around here don't want any males because roosters are illegal in town. there are lots of free roosters on craigslist in may/june
Comment by brett Fri Sep 11 10:04:50 2009
Good point! We probably should keep an eye out on Craigslist in the spring --- it sounds like an easy way to get free chicks for broilers!
Comment by anna Fri Sep 11 15:21:07 2009

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