It’s quite a common term thats banded around, often by inexperienced breeders who are attempting to provide a level of confidence to unsuspecting, inexperienced buyers….
It’s also a case of a little knowledge can be dangerous, or in the case of those looking to make a quick profit, it’s a tool to confidently con a buyer by selling them chicks that are claimed to be females.
So what is feather sexing and how does it work?
It is a method of being able to tell the difference between male and female chicks based on the growth rate of their primary wing feathers. The wing feathers of the male birds grow slower than the females however this is only evident when the chicks are between one and three days old after which point the feathers of the male birds will catch up in size.
It is also only really possible to reliably do on hybrid chicks where a fast feathering cockerel such as a Leghorn is crossed with slow-feathering hens such as a Rhode Island Red.
Not all breeds or crossings will produce opportunities to feather sex
successfully nor will those that should provide variable feather growth rates work unless the male parent stock is carry the fast feathering genes.
Points worth noting if you buy young birds where the seller claims they know the gender of the chick as they have feather sexed the brood. A couple of well placed questions will soon expose the bluffer. As for those who claim to be able to vent sex with 100% accuracy… well thats a blog post for another day 😉