For some types of poultry, determining the sex of the bird is easy. Other times it is not. Here’s a quick summary of how to sex your poultry, including chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, ducks, and geese.
The sex of some young chicks may be determined at the time of hatching by differences in undercolour. Other than that, the easiest way to sex chickens is to watch the development of the combs and combs of the cocks.
Mature roosters of most breeds also develop pointed neck and saddle characteristics, while chicken feathers are rounded at the ends. Roosters usually develop longer spurs as well, although in some breeds hens also develop these.
And of course, the roosters crow. Well, most of the time the roosters crow. Once in a while a hen will take over the job. The hen has the same vocal equipment as the male and thus has the ability to scream, but few chickens have it.
Practically from the day of hatching, young male turkeys fan their tails and legs. When they reach about 10 weeks of age, they begin to develop pale, wart-like head bumps, or boils.
Male turkeys also develop a loose growth called a snood that hangs from the top of the beak. When Tom is excited, Snood becomes tall and floppy and his dimples turn a bright red.
Mature males also develop a chest beard. But the hen may also grow a beard.
The turkey hen is somewhat smaller and less colorful than the male. It generally has more head feathers. They have smaller feet and thinner legs. The hen may sometimes strut like a tom, for much longer and usually only after she is fully cooked. But her little Snood will not grow tall and floppy, and her face will not glow like Tom’s.
Many people have difficulty determining the sex of a genet, even when the birds are fully mature. Clues in size, behaviour, posture and headgear can be very subtle.
Male genies are larger than females. And they tend to be more aggressive. While foraging, males are generally alert, while females seem intent on finding tidbits on the ground.
Male guineas generally have a larger, straighter knob on top of their head. Its valances are slightly larger, thicker, and deeper concave.
Both males and females make loud chattering sounds, especially when disturbed. But only females make a two-syllable call. It seems “good luckor “Come on.” Back,” focusing on the second part. Hens begin calling at about six weeks of age, before any other distinguishing features appear. But good luck trying to figure out who says “good luck.”
Ducks, too, can be sexed by the sounds they make. Females of most breeds scream loudly. Males do not quack. Mature male ducks have curly tail feathers, but not all year round. Sometimes the female has a curly tail.
In some breeds, males and females differ in the color of their feathers when they are mature. During part of the year, the males of these subspecies molt and take on the same color of plumage as the females.
However, ducks are usually larger and heavier than chickens. They have thicker and wider legs and larger feet. So these features, and a loud stand-up, are the clues to look for at times of year when both sexes wear plumage of the same color.
For most people, geese are more difficult to have sex with than any other poultry. Male geese tend to be slightly larger and more masculine in appearance than chickens. Mature females tend to be broader and less drooping between the legs. You can see these differences in the image above.
But these differences are sometimes subtle, so the usual way of ascertaining the sex, even for mature geese, is by venting about the sex. On the other hand, sometimes a man has a penis so small that catharsis for sex may not be reliable.
As you learn to sex poultry of all kinds, over time you will begin to recognize even slight differences in the way males and females look, move, and behave. One day you’ll suddenly realize that you’ve become a master at distinguishing between the sexes in no time.
And that’s today’s news from Cackle Coop.
Gail Damerow has written several books about poultry, including The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals, which includes chapters on chickens, turkeys, and waterfowl as well as a variety of four-legged livestock.