TELLING GIRLS FROM BOYS BY THEIR COLOURS AND PAT­TERNS

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QPlease ex­plain the term au­to­sex. I read it in a re­cent is­sue of Your Chick­ens.

A Vic­to­ria says: In the 1930s there was a large hike in poul­try re­search in Cam­bridge and one of the in­ter­est­ing find­ings was that cer­tain colours/pat­terns of chicken plumage re­sulted in day-old chicks hav­ing spe­cific colours/pat­terns for each sex. This is also know as sex link­age. This is very use­ful com­mer­cially as vent-sex­ing chick­ens is not an op­tion with­out se­ri­ous train­ing. Since then, broiler chick­ens have had a fast feath­er­ing gene added to them which gives fe­males small wing feath­ers at hatch­ing. Thus any­one can sex huge num­bers of com­mer­cial poul­try quickly and eas­ily. Orig­i­nally, the pure bred Rhode Is­land Red cock­erel if mated to a ge­net­i­cally sil­ver hen, such as a White Sus­sex, would pro­duce brown fe­males — hence the colour of com­mer­cial hy­brid lay­ers — and yel­low males. There is an au­to­sex­ing pure breed which uses the cuckoo pat­tern with the male chicks hav­ing a large white spot on the head and the fe­males a small white spot. Pure breed chicken keep­ers still take ad­van­tage of this colour/pat­tern find­ing so that they can feed the cock­erels sep­a­rately for the ta­ble.

Sex link­age is very use­ful com­mer­cially as vent-sex­ing chick­ens is not an op­tion with­out se­ri­ous train­ing

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