When a chick hatches, it is nigh on impossible to tell what sex it is. So you might wonder how to tell roosters from hens, right? In fact, the only way to compare hen vs rooster is to have some sort of knowledge about what you are looking for. Even then, and even if you were fully-trained in how to sex chicks (also called chick sexing), you still may not get it right 100% of the time. Basically, determining whether you have a hen or rooster is difficult.
If you can avoid it, we recommend that you do not do chick sexing yourself. It is complicated, and you are probably not going to be getting it right. Plus, for all the ‘at-home’ methods, there is a chance that you could hurt the chick.
You could either call in a professional who know how to sex chicks or just wait until the chickens get a little bit older.
On this page, we are going to share a few different methods on how to sex chickens and how to tell roosters from hens. We just want to show what options are available, and which ones are used most commonly. Use the method that you think you will feel the most comfortable with.
As a note; we are going to assume that you are sexing at home here. This means that we are not going to go into depth on machine sexing or anything like that. These are methods that are barely used in commercial hatcheries nowadays. You certainly wouldn’t encounter them at home.
Chick Sexing – Autosexing Breeds
It is worth noting that there are certain breeds of chicken that have been designed to make chick sexing as simple as possible also known as auto-sexing chickens (in pure breeds) or sex-link chickens (in crossbreeds). For example; they may have a ‘trait’ bred into them which allows you to determine instantly by looking at the feathers of the chick.
However, you do need to be aware that this is not a completely ‘foolproof’ method. There can be genetic variances. It is unlikely that you will encounter many of these breeds when it comes to backyard chickens, mostly because they seem to be only available to commercial operations.
The one autosexing chicken breed that you may encounter normally is the California Gray. However there are other autosexing breeds like the barred Plymouth Rocks and other barred varieties of the Dominique Chicken and varieties of Leghorn chicken.
Chick Sexing – Venting
This method is not 100% accurate, but it is as close as you are going to get when it comes to determining the sex of your chicks. Again, this is something that you will probably want to leave to the experts, but you can always try it yourself.
However, we can’t stress enough just how careful you need to be when you are following this method. There is a risk that you could injure the chick.
We are not going to go into too much detail on venting, because this is a process that can take many, many years to learn. It is also still not a guaranteed method, even if you are trained. We also do not want you to injure the chick.
With this method, you need to lightly restrain the chick. Once it is restrained, you will be delicately squeezing a feces out of the chick. As it comes out, the cloaca will expand. Inside, you will be on the lookout for a bulb-like organ.
If it is there, then you have a rooster. If it isn’t there, then it is likely that you have a hen (although, of course, not guaranteed because it can be very, very difficult to spot this organ).
We know we have said this before already, but once again, we absolutely do stress that you do not do this method on your chicks unless you need to (i.e. if you are selling them on).
It really is not a method that is going to be worth it. You can always wait a couple of weeks to find out what sex your chicks actually are. It is more exciting like that.
How To Sex Chicks – Wing Feathers
In some breeds, you will be able to tell with their wing feathers.
Before a hen hatches, the wing feathers will have started to grow. The rooster’s feathers will probably not start growing until after hatching. This means that when you look at the wing feathers of a hen, they are going to be a lot longer.
The rooster feathers will have no growth. In fact, it is clear that no growth will have happened because all of the feathers on their wing are going to be the same length.
Related article: How to sex turkeys.
For ‘at home’ sexing, this is probably going to be the safest ‘shortly after they hatch’ method that you can use when you are sexing your chicks.
Although, how to sex chicks using this method of course, is not going to be 100% accurate all of the time. It should be enough for ‘at home’ sexing, though. Just for those who really can’t wait a couple of weeks.
Hen vs Rooster – The Comb
Using the comb to determine if the chick is a hen or a rooster, is something that you are probably going to need to wait a little while for it to appear.
Male chicks will have slightly longer combs. Again, not always guaranteed, but this is something which seems to be the case with the vast, vast majority of chicken breeds out there.
How to Sex Chicks – 4 to 6 Weeks Old
Around this time you will start to get an idea on how to tell roosters from hens, you will get an idea of the sex of the chickens that have hatched. It is nigh on impossible to get it wrong here, although it has been known to happen.
It is at this age that the behavior of the chicken starts to become more apparent.
For example; male chickens are going to be a lot more dominant (they may start to puff up their feathers), and the male chickens will try to rule the brooding box that they are in. Hens are going to be a bit more laid back.
They almost certainly are not going to run towards you if you hold your hand out.
At about this stage, the two will start to look like a hen or rooster too. It won’t be immediately obvious by looking at them right away, but if you do a closer inspection, then anybody who has read a quick guide to the looks of chickens will have an idea.
A few months down the line, the roosters will start to crow, and the hens will lay their first eggs. This way you will know 100% which sex of chickens you are raising!
Chick Sexing – Hen vs Rooster (100% Works)
If you are still not sure how to sex chicks to determine hen vs rooster, then wait a little bit longer; you know the saying 🙂
“If it crows, it’s a rooster; if it lays an egg, it’s a hen”.