The only way to attempt to identify the sex of the newly hatched chicks is through a process of manually manipulating the chick to try and differentiate between the male and female.
There are six types of male organs and this organ is, in most cases, as small (or smaller) than the head of a pin. There are four female types. The sexing expert has to differentiate between all these types which really have very small differences. In our program we have five different unselected breeds of heritage chicks which often don’t compare reliably to a commercial type bird.
The sexing process is extremely difficult and there are very few trained experts who can perform it. In addition, the procedure can be hard on the chicks and mortality can increase, especially since we need to ship them out as soon as possible after hatching.
We believe that the stress, difficulty, expense and inaccuracy of this process make it prohibitive and it is in the best interests of the health and welfare of our chicks to avoid it.
After hatching, it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to be completely sure of the sex of the Brown and White leghorn and it can take up to 12 weeks to be completely sure of the sex of the New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red and Random-bred chickens. Plymouth Barred Rock can be identified a bit earlier as the males will be a lighter colour once their feathers come in. Light Sussex also takes approximately six weeks to clearly identify.