Before buying your chicks, you need to identify whether they are female or male. The gender of your chicks will influence your business e.g. you need more female chicks for layer business and more male chicks for broiler business.

You can use three methods to determine the sex of the chicks: colour sexing, feather sexing and vent sexing. In Kenya colour sexing may not show good accuracy due to the mixed breeds. You can use feather and vent sexing with accuracy to determine the sex of your chicks.

Feather sexing

Chicks have primary and covert feathers (Figure 1). Female chicks (pullets) show faster feathering where the primary feathers are longer than the covert feathers. Male chicks (cockerels) show slower feathering where the primary feathers and covert feathers are short and at the same height (Figure 2).

Primary and Covert feathers

Figure 1: chicks have both primary and covert feathers

Feather sexing

Figure 2: pullets have longer primary than covert feathers. Cockerels have primary and covert feathers at the same height.

Vent sexing

Vent sexing involves checking the vent area for the presence or absence of male organs. Open the chicken vent (found just under the tail feathers) Figure 3; a male will have a protruding bump while a female will have no bump.

Vent sexing

Figure 3: chicken vent

Sex for the chicks when they are day old for high accuracy. If you do chicken sexing right, you will probably get a high accuracy, say 95%. For more information, get yourself  a comprehensive guide to improved indigenous chicken

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