How old is a chick when hackle/saddle feathers start.

Discussion in 'Chick Raising Forum' started by teddy, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. teddy

    teddy Scrambled Eggs

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    I had seven chicks Sept 24 2012. So they are not even 2 months old. They all are completely feathered, and have been sleeping outside at night with no heat light. As it looks to me all back and neck feathers are rounded at the ends. How old will they be before hackles start coming in?

    I looked at wing feathers when they where a day old and three days old. I counted 4 hens and 3 roosters. I am hoping to improve my sexing but just don't have patience to wait till they grow up.

    It would be nice to have 7 hens plus the 7 I already have but I know some have to be roosters.
     
  2. Bird_slave

    Bird_slave Junior Member

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    The saddle and hackles feathers that indicate a rooster don't show up until the bird is closer to maturity - 5, maybe 6 months old (depending on whether it's an early maturing breed or a late one).

    The secondary sex characteristics that indicate gender start to show up in the 4 to 6 week old range, in most breeds.

    Here's what to look for:
    The cockerels tail is stumpy and curved, the pullets is longer and straight and starts to resemble an upside down V or tent.
    Cockerels tend to feather slower, with the less feathering more noticable down the back and especially on the wing bows - the rounded part at the top of the wing when it's resting against the body.
    The cockerel's comb starts getting larger and turning pink; while the pullets combs are still small and yellow.
    Cockerels legs are thicker, sturdier looking. Pullets are thinner and shorter.
    Also, the cockerels are the ones that, when approached in the brooder, stand more erect and may let out a warning peep to the others.

    This guide works with chicks slightly younger than yours, but should still be noticable at 8 weeks old. It also helps to have more than one bird of the same breed so you are comparing apples to apples vs. apples to oranges. Reason being, a cockerel from a single comb breed is naturally going to have a comb that looks way bigger than one from say...a pea comb breed; even if they are the same age.