Feather Sexing

Text by "an anonymous friend"

Feather sexing requires maintaining 2 breeder flocks for the parents and one breeder flock for the chicks. (Two flocks would work, but this is easiest way to explain it.)

The breeder flock for the female line must be slow feathering only, and the breeder flock for the male line must be fast feathering only. To breed for the chicks you would then cross the slow feathering females with the fast feathering males. The resulting offspring would be the opposite of their parents. Females fast feathering and the males slow feathering.

Some hatcheries just switch the males on the mother and father lines. The resulting offspring of one flock would be feather sexable and the offspring from the other flock would be sold as straight run. (Remember that the mother must be slow feathering and father fast feathering for feather sexing to work).

Most hatcheries just buy the slow feathering females and fast feathering males or simply ship in hatching eggs from someone already set up.

Most of your common white and brown egg layers and a few rare breeds are feather sexable. Probably all chickens have the genes for for fast and slow feathering, so it would be just a matter of culling for this trait until you have two lines that breed true--one for each trait.

Because the males' feather grow slower, they will be shorter and of equal length (see Figure 1). Females' feathers will be not only longer but some feathers will be much longer than the others (sort of a row of long and a row of short feathers--see Figure 2).

Figure 1.
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----------- male

Figure 2.
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------------- female


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