Update on the Science Project about the Old Wives Tales of Chick Sexing

Update on the Science Project about the Old Wives Tales of Chick Sexing

eight week old chick bantam cochin science project sexing experiment
White Frizzle Cochin chick cockerel at 8 weeks old

I just realized I never posted an update to my daughter’s science experiment on the accuracy of old wives tales of chick sexing. With Spring baby chick season just around the corner, I thought other backyard chicken keepers might be interested in the results of her odd little science project.

We split the shipment of assorted bantam cochin chicks up between two broody hens so everyone would have plenty of room to grow, with one mama hen at my house and one across the street at K’s house. Only ten of the chicks were actually tracked in the experiment because the rest of the chicks looked too similar for my daughter to accurately keep track of without leg bands or painted heads.

My friend Roberta also took four chicks when they were about 6 days old, with one of them, the self blue, being followed in the experiment.  Three of the chicks Roberta took, looked too similar for B to easily identify in the study and we had plenty of other chicks still.  We did all the tests on Roberta’s chicks and told her ahead of time, that I guessed she was getting three boys and one girl, but despite our guesses, she wanted them anyway.  We even told her we were almost 100% positive the self blue was a boy since it already had a pink comb showing up at one week old.  She reported back three months later that she ended up with three boys and one girl with the self blue being one of the boys.  In the study sample of ten chicks we followed until maturity, there were three girls and seven boys.

  • Partridge=Pullet
  • Silver Laced #1=Cockerel
  • Silver Laced #2=Pullet
  • Black #1=Cockerel
  • White #1 (Which turned out to be a Frizzle) = Cockerel
  • Black #2=Pullet
  • Self Blue/ Lavender= Cockerel
  • Splash=Cockerel
  • White Frizzle (Which turned out to be a Red Frizzle) =Cockerel
  • Blue=Cockerel

The conclusion based on B’s data was that most of the old wives tale methods are not affective, but when used together, a good educated guess can be made on the gender of the chick.

  1. Wing feather length=We had two slow feathering females and one fast feathering male, but it did work for some.
  2. Laying chick on its back and seeing if it squirmed= it was accurate for 7 out of 10 chicks.
  3. Amount of Foot feathering= no correlation to gender at all, at least not in bantam Cochins.
  4. Holding up chick and see how it hangs its feet= 6 out of 10 chicks it was accurate.

In B’s opinion, the best method for sexing baby chicks (without vent sexing or raising an autosexing breed) in this project was laying the chick on its back in the palm of the hand.  If the chick squirmed when laid on its back and never settled, odds are pretty good that it is a boy.  In B’s testing, every chick that squirmed and didn’t eventually relax on its back, turned out to be a boy.  If the chick doesn’t squirm after a moment or two, odds are better that the chick is a girl.  But there were a couple of boys that didn’t squirm, so this method isn’t fool-proof by any means.

Out of the chicks at our house, we kept the two pullets, a silver laced cochin and a partridge.  The blue was sold to another local resident who had a lonely a singleton pullet and needed a friend.

Six months later, when we let B pick out the two baby silkie chicks that were coming home with Penguin, B used the laying on the back method to help decide who to take.  K was keeping about fourteen of the silkie chicks that hatched out at her house, so she was fine with letting B pick who ever she wanted.  B made sure not to take any squirmers home, hoping at least one of the two would be a female.  Both Silkie chicks she picked turned out to be pullets.  I am not claiming the laying on the back method is really all that accurate, but it may help increase the odds of getting a hen for anyone looking to pick out a few bantam chicks from a big assorted bin of chicks at a feed store.  At least, it did help B with her decision.

I hope the little project is a bit of help to others.

sort gender figure out male or female chick
Silver Laced Cochin Bantam pullet

This post is linked to a weekly blog party at Tilly’s Nest

One thought on “Update on the Science Project about the Old Wives Tales of Chick Sexing

I would love to know what you think about this.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.