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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sexing Right in the Store

Buff Orphingtons in box from TSC
 Tuesday, I was drawn to TSC, wanting cheap and reliable chicks. Since the first ten I purchased from the Mennonite farmer five years ago were mostly huge birds, That is what I was looking for. Later, I got one pullet from the same place that was part banty. I kept it, thinking it was not full grown. It was. And, it had the banty profile as it stood and walked around.

Figuring I could not get chicks that were all pullets, so I decided to sex them myself since I had read about the procedure once and was sure I could do it myself. lol...and I am confident. Cockerels are a waste of money because I give them away.

The young woman gathering my chicks agreed to hand them to me one at a time and let me look in the vent and decide. People were stopping, some looking and laughing from afar. One guy had his head next to mine, sort of hanging on my shoulder so he could look for a penis, too.  I did not squeeze out their poop or handle them for long so they would not die.

There was lots, I mean lots of cheeping going on as I did this! The three-day-old chicks flopped lots and flapped their little wings. Soon, I could feel the fine feather fluff in my nose. The front of my shirt was full of allergens. I rushed home to clean out my nose and take allergy medicine and throw that shirt in the laundry.

Afterward, one guy bought eight or so and asked me to see what he had. The three he handed me looked like girls to me. He looked at those three, too, after I did.

lonely chick

When I came home, I put one on the ground and called Thelma and Patsy Cline. Thelma stayed about six feet away. Patsy Cline put her bill about three inches from the baby chick and would startle, withdrawing her head and neck. Then, she moved backward about two steps. The chicks stood absolutely still when Patsy Cline was near. They only moved when big chickens moved away.

Patsy Cline and Thelma running to me
Thelma, behind above, never came any closer than the daffodils she is approaching.

Patsy Cline investigates.
She acts as though she is afraid of the chick.

When I took the box of chicks into the house, both Thelma and Patsy Cline rushed up the steps and jumped onto the porch railing making "enemy" alarm calls. They decided to hang out on the porch, railing, and right around the back door, both making funny sounds. If it were warmer out or they had an actual house, I would slip a chick under them tonight. Thelma and Patsy Cline sleep right together, so one chick would be enough to maybe sacrifice to see what the reaction would be.

Have you ever sexed chicks before? Right in TSC?

Here are some sites I found after the fact. Maybe THIS ONE will help you. I wish I had seen it before I bought these chicks.

For a laugh:
Reminds me of an old “Dennis the Menace” cartoon.

 Dennis and his little friend Alice have some kittens and Dennis is holding one upside down and says to Alice, “Well, my dad can tell by looking at the bottom of their feet.”

What I did
I held them upside down and spread the vent. I did not expel their poop. If I saw poop, I just handed it back. I saw a process (penis) on two and gave them back. Two had their vents tight not allowing me to invade their privacy. I figured they were shy females or stubborn males, so I put those back. Three had the beginnings of pasty butt, so I told the employee and gave them back. We will see how well I did this the first time.

Alternate method
The young woman showed me how to dangle the chicks by their head. The pullets (girls) kick and draw their feet up like mad little chicks. The cockerels (boys) just let their legs dangle. That is another method for determining sex according to farmer lore. I don't know. But, the demonstration was interesting.

These are Buff Orphingtons, so I hope they are gentle and not flighty. I have heard they are good chickens.

Your turn
If you buy chicks that are straight run, do you get many girls compared to boys? Have you ever seen a chick process (penis)? Have you ever sexed chickens by any method other than watching and waiting for crowing or eggs?


  1. Good luck. It is years since I have lived anywhere where I could keep chickens - and I bought adult females from an auction. No chicken sexing experience at all.

    1. EC,
      I like raising them from a chick so they will know me. I suppose I want a But, I have bought two grown hens. Patsy Cline makes Thelma startle.

  2. I have a buff...easily startled, but a good laying hen.

  3. Patti,

    A good laying hen is the objective here. I just hope they are cold hardy. Thanks for the information on startling.

  4. I have three barred rock, 4 buff orpings and 1 golden wyandotte. I would never put a chick down near a grown hen. We always keep them separate until they are about the same size. We've had older hens really pick on younger ones in the past. We always try to buy sexed birds, but have had a couple roosters turn up in the past.

  5. Jane,
    I was hovering, very close and vigilant with one hand very near the chick except when I clicked the camera. I was very careful. Plus, the wind was blowing. Even though the chick was in the sun, I did not leave it out for long. I really think that Patsy Cline was puzzled and almost afraid of the chick. I do want the chicks not to be a surprise later on. I will keep them separate but in sight of each other for a long time.

  6. really over my head! my grandma raised chickens whenI was a kid but my mom refused to eat the eggs- we bought the crap at the grocery store. I did too until the last year or so -a guy at work has chickens and sells me a dozen every couple of weeks- sometimes more often. all I know is they're brown and different sizes - little ones to big ones and some used to be spotted but he said those chickens were older ad went off to chicken and dumplings..gasp...too down to earth for my squeamish self LOL! hope you got girls though

    1. Suzy,
      Oh my. Your mother missed out on good food. Don
      t you just love the assorted sizes in a carton? If I had someone to kill these, chicken in the freezer would be my choice. Someone said the "Mexicans" would kill anything, meaning they know how. I would be willing to go halfsies, but would have to be present to make sure they were treated well to the end. I hope I have none to go in the freezer!

  7. I let my hens raise their own chicks and I don't worry if I have pullets or roos...I put the roos in the freezer! I hope you have only females...

    1. Lynda,
      That is ideal but I cannot have a rooster! I have a

  8. I have orpingtons they are sweet hens.

  9. Well I hope you are happy. Now there will be a dozen or more chickens in therapy from all your molesting. I tired sexing a chicken once, but I couldn't catch her.

    We did have chickens here for a while and enjoyed the eggs. But DIL's dogs broke out of the pin and killed them So Judy says no more chickens until her dogs are gone.

    1. Coffeypot,
      I don't know how I will pay for therapy! Eggs? Thankfully, that hen could run faster than you. Whew!

      People were probably watching and thinking I was molesting the babies!

      I could help you with "dogs are gone" That is sad.

  10. I've not had Orphingtons but, knew someone that did. They were nice and are good layers of brown eggs. As far as sexing chicks, I use the wing feather method when they are less than a week old.

    BTW, you did leave a comment, on my blog. I haven't caught the coon yet, and...there are two of them. Saw them the other night casing Nicholas. Buried cat food under the cage tonight.

    1. Mike,
      I thought the wing-feather method was only good for day old chicks! Next time, I will know better.

      Good luck with the raccoons.

    2. I thought rats, too. I'll give the tin foil a try. Thanks.

      So many different ways. Don't know if you follow this blogger but, she is my go-to on chicken questions.

  11. I guess I've never bought chickens. My parents had them, and they sometimes got me colored chicks at Easter, but I wouldn't have a clue what to look for, and I didn't even know they came mixed in gender.


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