Barred Rock rooster vs hen: how to identify them? As you raise this chicken breed for egg production, knowing the sex distinction is a necessity.
This article is written to help you differentiate a female and a male Barred Rock, from babies to adults, by watching their visual appearance.
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Why Knowing Sex Distinctions Is Important?
In poultry farming, female chickens are kept for eggs while male ones are unwanted. The cockerels, then, are usually separated for further breeding purposes.
Also, male and female chickens that are raised for meat have different feeding programs. That’s why telling the gender of the chicks from the very beginning is very important to gain the effectiveness of the industry.
For local chicken keepers, depending on the area where you live, Barred Rock cockerels can be forbidden because of the noise they make. So, it is necessary to have a look at the local laws before choosing suitable gender for your farm.
Barred Rock Rooster Vs Hen: How Different Are They?
The differences between a mature Barred Rock rooster and a hen are quite easy to spot out. Here is how:
- The comb
The first and most visually distinctive feature of a grown-up Barred Rock cockerel is its comb.
Compared to the hen, the rooster has a red, larger comb that stands upright and spreads around its face and under its neck.
When it is around 5 to 6 weeks of age, the rooster’s comb will start growing bigger. And it takes 3 to 9 months to be fully developed.
- The sickle feather
The tail of a male Barred Rock chicken has noticeable longer barred feathers at the end, which are also called “sickle feathers”.
Another interesting fact is that the hen will grow its tail and wing feathers sooner than its male fellows, although at the end its tail’s feathers are shorter.
- The hackle feather
The hackle feathers, which are around the neck, start to develop when the male chickens reach 2-3 months of age.
- The body feather
In terms of body feathers, the Barred Rock hens usually have smaller white bars, making their overall plumage slightly lighter than that of the male.
Roosters Crow But Hens Don’t
Well, you don’t need us to tell you that roosters crow, and chances are when you hear this sound in your garden, you will already know its gender.
The truth is roosters crow way sooner than that, and thus you can spot a young rooster by its crow.
Did you know that male chickens start crowing at 16 weeks of age? If you are lucky, you can even hear a crow from a 1-month-old male chick. That’s how we can use this method to sex at an early age. If after six months, you have never heard your chicken crow, then you can be sure it is a “she”.
It does sound unrealistic, but many people do confirm the case. Just so you know, a male chick may not look anywhere like a rooster yet but he acts like one.
Gender Differences In Baby Chicks
Sexing has a higher percentage of accuracy when the chickens are old, around 5-6 weeks of age because you can base it on their physical appearances.
For young chicks, however, this task is harder even for someone who has experience. The younger the chick, the harder we can sex them correctly.
But it’s still important to be able to distinguish between male and female chicks. What most experienced people will look for is a white spot on top of the chick’s head. A male Barred Rock chick will have a large spot while his newborn sister has a smaller one.
Another feature to be used is still the feather. Placing one male chick next to one female, you might be able to see that the male feather is darker.
Of course, nothing is absolute when it comes to sexing young baby chickens, but you can trust this method for its 80% accuracy. Still, it is faster than hiring a vent inspector, isn’t it?
Other Ways To Sex A Chicken
If the above methods don’t work for your case, here are a few more you can try:
Venting is considered to be the most accurate among other sexing methods. It can be done very soon, one day after the chick is hatched.
To sex a chick with this method, you will have to push gently on the chick’s sex organ and then spread it out. Even when the chicken is still a baby, there are already differences between the vent of a female and a male.
Nevertheless, venting is extremely hard to do and not for anyone without a lot of practice and experience. If not done properly, you can damage the chick’s vent for good or even kill it.
So, it is not unnecessary at all to ask for a reliable breeder to do it for you.
2. Feather Sexing
Another safer method is feather sexing, also known as wing sexing. Exactly like how it is called, you can tell the gender of your chicks by looking at the feathers of their wings.
Similar to venting, feather sexing should take place when the baby chicks are one day old, and it’s important not to delay because you may lose the chance to spot the difference.
Because female chicks grow their wing feathers even before hatching, their feathers will be more visible than the male’s right after being born.
So, if you spread the wing out and see an evenly curved shape, you are holding a male. Meanwhile, the lengths of a pullet chick’s feathers vary, forming a two-step curve shape.
Although feather sexing appears to be safer than venting, it is still not a risk-free process. One-day-old chicks have very delicate wings and their bones are still small and soft. If you pull it too hard, you possibly damage the chick’s wing forever.
3. Check The Comb
Observing physical differences is easier and safer than venting and feather sexing. Although it is less accurate and you may have to take more time, the risk is low. Yes, you can do it by checking the chick’s comb.
Spend a little bit of time watching the comb grow a few weeks after hatching. If you find a taller, fuller comb, it is highly likely you are looking at a male chick.
Besides its size and shape, comb color is a reliable indication. In whatever colors, the comb of a male chick is usually brighter than that of the female.
Another easily seen feature is in the wattle. Fast-growing, longer, and brighter in color are definitely how a young male comb looks like. Generally, the earliest wattle-growing chicks in your flock are going to crow one day.
4. Observe The Behavior
Another method of sexing that requires good observation is through watching the chick’s behavior.
If you can spot a chick that has the boldness to look directly at you, with a cocking head, it’s hard to be a female. Young male chicks are also more likely to fight, which includes bumping, pecking, or kicking each other, slamming each other’s chests, etc.
Of course, this can’t be 100% accurate. And although it is rare, you can still find an aggressive, likely-to-fight female chick once in a while.
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, or people might say “don’t count the roosters before their crows”. So no matter how accurate the sexing method may seem, mistakes do happen, and it’s okay.
We hope so far you have had a handful of knowledge in telling the gender of Barred Rock rooster vs hen. Don’t hesitate to share with us your own experience!