Update on Chick Pick

Awhile ago, I posted about my guesses on sexing Bantam Cochin chicks based on my visual observations as they grew.  With bantams, it is the only way to sex them, that or spending $25 a chick to get them DNA tested like Silkie breeders sometimes do before selling chicks.

I raised, well Penguin raised a clutch of chicks recently.  They turned 8 weeks old on Monday.  Penguin had 6 chicks, but one is an Easter Egger.  4 cochins (white, partridge, buff, and golden laced) had early feather development all over, and one (self blue/ lavendar) had very slow wing and feather development.  At 8 days old, I made my guesses and thought I had 4 female cochins and 1 male.   See the link to my other post to see what I was going by.  I was wrong…I ended up with 3 cockerels and two pullets out of the cochins.  The Easter Egger was also a pullet.  Hoping to pick out pullets, I still ended up with 50% males.

The slow featherer at 8 days old was definitely a boy.  He had a bright red comb by 3 weeks and was still mostly fuzz all over. The feathering on the Golden Laced and the White kept pace with the pullets for a long time and I was optimistic, but both started growing bigger combs and wattles around 5 to 6 weeks old, and by 6 1/2 to 7 weeks old they were as red as my adult hens.  The buff and partridge pullets’ combs were still light pinkish yellow at that point.  With partridge cochins, the boys feathering pattern began to change to be a little more colorful at that age.  My hopes on consistently using feather development as a method to sort the genders earlier than 6 or 8 weeks doesn’t look good.  Because of this and 3 other straight run chick raising experiences, I now have given up trying to over think picking out chicks.  I like having a colorful flock, so I am just sticking with picking out the few varieties that aren’t currently in my flock.

My daughter has decided sexing bantam chicks will be her science project this coming school year.  She wants to try out all the different wives tales on chick sexing, like hanging a string over a chick and see how it rotates, holding the chick up and seeing if it pulls it legs up or lets them relax, and a few others including my cockerel friendliness comment I told her.  I will post about it in the Spring when she actually does the project.

Above is a photo my son took of an 8 week old partridge cochin pullet that Penguin raised this summer. By this age, the boys are usually getting more colors in their wings and tails. The pullets have a barred look to their lower body feathers at this juvenile stage.

I am still very curious about my crazy eyeliner theory with the silver pencilled cochins.  My neighbor got one in an assortment last month.  It did not have any eyeliner, and I told her it might be a boy as a result.  4 weeks later, I know it is a boy by the bright red comb and dark/ mostly solid color and sparse wing feathers.  However, 4 chicks in a year doesn’t make a theory proven.  I will need to see at least 10 chicks develop before I can comfortably say eyeliner IS a way to sex silver pencilled cochin (aka silver partridge pekin) chicks at hatch.  However, I am not ready for more chicks for quite a while.  Hopefully the hens don’t get any ideas of their own.  They go broody whenever they feel like it, not when I am ready.

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