Skip to main content

Determining the gender of young chickens: are those chicks hens or roosters?

As I write this, the chicks are now 10 weeks old and fully feathered  (see post about incubating eggs).  For a while now its been possible to tell the difference between the pullets (females) and roosters (males), but the crazy little things won't stay still long enough for me to count them!  Finally I had a chance to catch each one and put them in two different cages, one for boys and one for girls, so I could count up.  Of the 16 that hatched, one died early on, and now I think we have 8 roosters and 7 pullets.  Two of the three white leghorns are roosters, it will be hard to decide which one to keep, they are so beautiful.  Anyway, I've noticed that chicken sexing can be difficult for people who buy un-sexed chicks and need to decide to get rid of roosters before they start crowing, so I've taken some photos so you can see the difference, at least for Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns.


If you showed me any of these chickens on their own, I wouldn't know if they were roosters or pullets, but when you see them next to each other, its easy to pick the difference.  The hens have less developed crown and wattles compared to the roosters, they are also slightly smaller, this is apparent at a few weeks of age, as soon as they start developing crowns.  If you can't see any difference between your chicks, you may have all of one sex, which does make things difficult and you have to start looking at tail shape to figure out the sex.

We don't always get it right and sometimes add a rooster into the pullets (just over-optimistic at the number of layers I think), so we will just keep an eye on them now and see if I counted correctly :)

A young Rhode Is Red rooster
And a Rhode Island Red pullet at the same age
A young White Leghorn rooster
And a White Leghorn pullet at the same age
How do you tell your baby chickens apart?



By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


Comments

  1. I have had the occasional rooster that has a comb like a pullet when young. Not sure how that happens but they eventually start looking like roosters and do rooster things. But what you say works for normal birds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you aren't breeding pure breeds you can do sex-linked breeding where the hens are a different colour to the roosters at hatching, saves a lot of guessing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. our latest lot are almost 5 weeks and you can see at the top of their beaks that the roosters are more reddish than the girls

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for the comments everyone. Its not a fool-proof method, but it works ok. We have one rooster who keeps going back to the pullet's tractor anyway....

    ReplyDelete
  5. i've had a pullet turn into a rooster, so it's not uncommon either (Rhonda gets it every time she buys new chooks too) so, now, i have a pure bred silver lace wyndotte rooster. have decided to keep him for now, see how he works out plus i think i would like to breed my own in the near future
    very informative & easy to do too
    thanx for sharing

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Making tallow soap

For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.
Then we had the steer butchered at home and I saw just how much excess fat we had to dispose, it was nearly a wheel-barrow full, and that made me think about how we could use that…

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…