Chick Pick: How to Avoid Getting Bantam Cockerel Chicks at the Feed Store

Chick Pick: How to Avoid Getting Bantam Cockerel Chicks at the Feed Store

Back in early February 2011, my neighbor and I split an assortment of 2 day old bantam straight run cochin chicks.  Her kids came over in the evening to select the 5 cochins they wanted out of the 15 to choose from.  I already had plenty of friendly hens at the time, so I wasn’t too particular what i ended up with.  I, well Lady Cluck, got the 10 remaining cochin chicks.  A day later, I noticed one of Lady Cluck’s chicks was getting frizzled wing tips already, and knowing my neighbor’s daughter REALLY wanted at least one frizzle, I added that chick to Daisy’s brood, making my neighbor’s total 6 cochins.  Well guess what?  Out of the five chicks the neighbor’s kids picked, only one was a pullet (female) and the rest were cockerels.  The frizzle I added ended up being a pullet.  Therefore, based on this straight run chick picking experience…my neighbor K would probably tell you “Don’t let your kids pick your chicks!”  But I would say it demonstrated that, at 2 or 3 days old, odds are slightly in favor of the friendlier chicks being boys.

self blue bantam cochin chick from Ideal poultry
This Self Blue Bantam Cochin turned out to be a male

What else I noticed on the genders of this assortment:

  • “Girls wear make up.” Looking back on the chick pictures, out of the three silver penciled cochins, the two with eye liner like lines around their eyes ended up being pullets; the one with no “eyeliner” was the rooster.  This could be just a coincidence.  I will have to raise a few more chicks of this variety to see if this is a consistent way to sort for gender.
  • “Girls develop faster than boys.”  The chicks with the fastest wing and tail tip growth were almost all girls, in about 75+% of the chicks.
  • “Little boys have bare shoulders.”  Around 3 weeks, the chicks whose wing bows/ shoulders feathered in the slowest were males.  At 3 weeks, boys are still pretty fuzzy.
  • At a few days old, boys are friendly and girls are sometimes shy.
  • Exception: the silver pencilled cochins developed much slower than the other varieties.  Both boys and girls had almost no primary wings sprouting until about two weeks old.  Both genders feathered in really slowly all over and were still mostly fuzzy even at 5 weeks.  Based on feather and comb growth, even at 6 weeks, I would have said both my pencilled cochin pullets were males, but they both lay eggs now.  They had pink combs at 4 weeks, like the male chicks.

The Ratio of girls to boys was slightly higher in this bantam assortment.  We had 15 chicks between my neighbor and I.  girls 10: boys 5.  I am really curious about this.  I will have to order more assortments and see if it holds true.  I am guessing, that since select breeds are boxed earlier in the day at the hatchery, maybe more shy girls stay toward the back of the bin, and then don’t get picked for the assortments until the end of the day when the chick bins are getting low.  Hmmm.  Well see.  If you have any experience with this, please comment.  I just got another assortment, and I kept six different colors.  I will report back in a couple of months.

Click here for the full update on the group of 6: Basically, with this second clutch of chicks, I still can not confidently sex the majority of bantam chicks until they reach at least 6 weeks old.

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