Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Stars Are Out

Five Days Old



Black Sex-Link Rooster

It is difficult for non-professional breeders of chickens to figure out the gender of chicks. I have heard of several ways to determine this, but unless you have been trained and do hundreds or thousands of "sexings" your success rate isn't going to be that great. One way that I was told to try is to take a chick that is 2-4 days old and hold it by the scruff of the neck (like a baby kitten) and let the bird dangle. Roosters supposedly spaz out with their feet and raise them up to try to push off your hand, while the hens just dangle there looking helpless. I tried this on the chicks I am going to describe below and it worked every time!
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I chose three breeds and hatched them out at school. We had a four hour power outage at school one evening and I thought I would lose them all. However, I ended up with 22 chicks hatching out of 36 eggs. (8 Black Sex-Links, 7 Light Brahmas and 7 Rhode Island Reds)


Black Sex-Link Hen


The Black Sex-Links (BSL) are a cross-breed between a red rooster, usually a Rhode island Red or a New Hampshire, and a Barred Rock hen. The chicks hatch out black, but the males have a white spot on their heads. The hens will have a black head. (When I tried the procedure described above to determine their gender, the BSL roos spazzed and the hens dangled!) The BSL chicks are very active and when the hens are about four months old, they will begin laying nice, big brown eggs. The roosters are good meat birds. I ended up with 2 BSL hens and 6 BSL roosters.
Other names I have come across for the BSL breed include: Rock Reds and Black Stars.


Rhode Island Red and Light Brahma (five days old)

By the way, the chicks were the hit of the Science Fair at school last week! No big surprise. The bubble gum testing was pretty good too.

39 comments:

laura said...

These chicks are adorable. There's something about them (or they way you [Ruth?] photographed them)--little things braving the world.
I'm very disappointed that the spaz v. dangle method, which seems predicated on sexist stereotypes, works!

Ruth said...

Damn! I thought I ironed those wrinkles out of the sheet. Gotta get me some felt . . .

Loring Wirbel said...

Black Sex-Link sounds either too clinical or too adult-personals of a name, depending on how you look at it. Why hasn't someone given them a good descriptive name like "Coal-Mine Clucks"? Don, you could turn it into a naming contest at the school.

ChristyACB said...

Those chicks are just too cute. Most baby birds are just plain hideous, but a baby chick almost seems designed to hit our cute button and all protective instincts. Laura is right too, it does sory of give that braving the world vibe. They are just too adorable.

That sex test is genius and I'll remember that for the future.

Sandy said...

Oh love them!!!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

gorgeous!
And who'd have thought about the whole rooster hen thing!!!
Wish I had known,I think we have 4 mabey 5 from our 7 hatched!
They are nearing 10weeks and some have tail feathers others hardley any and combs are quite noticeable.
I have been looking for spurs and seems to be the presence of little bumbs in the region???
Guess we will know one way or another.

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

Glad the method worked for you. I tried it on mine also and from the development of the chicks the method tested true to all but one and right now I am still not positive about the one.

I think that little Lt. Brahma chick is so cute. I have found some locally and will probably invest in a few.

warren said...

I have heard of your sexing technique and so excited to hear of someone who has actually tried it...you know, someone not trying to unload chicks on me! Thanks for the cool info!

Susan said...

Don, I see Ruth has been busy on your blog, too! Beautiful new header! I can almost smell that sheet waving in the breeze. I'm always so sad to see the old headers go away though.

That light brahma chick is the cutest thing I've seen in a long time! The others are really adorable, too, but I've never seen a LB one.

jen's farmily said...

I just love baby chicks! In fact it's Chick Days at our local feedstore... I'm very tempted! :)

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

I like the name Black Stars better but the 'sex-link' is of course because of the sex-linked colour. They are so cute, I can hardly wait until spring. I have two black sex-links, they are really good hens.
I thought you would be okay even after the power going out, once a hen of mine got out of her cage while hatching eggs for the day and could not get back in, the eggs were cold by the time I got home. I let her finish hatching and all seven eggs hatched, of course out of seven chicks only one was a hen! XD

Ginnie said...

I like the idea of a naming contest at school, Don. I bet your students are having the best years of their lives! (To say nothing of YOU?)

julie king said...

what a fun hobby you have! i imagine photographing those chicks is a good deal more challenging that taking photos of my stationary art. hee hee i so enjoy visiting your blog!

Bob Johnson said...

Too cute Don, great photography as well, Ruth?

Don said...

laura: yes Ruth photographed the chicks.

sterotyping is not limited to humans, unfortunately, but in this case it makes life a little easier.

Don said...

Hobby Lobby, here we come!

Don said...

loring: my students want to leave it the way it is. I think they like being able to say the word and not get yelled at!

Don said...

christy: you are so right! baby chicks are right up there with kittens

Don said...

sandy: you paint them well too!

Don said...

country cupcakes: I have a batch that are about 8 weeks old and I can begin to guess which ones are which, but as you alluded, it isn't that easy to tell til someone crows!

Don said...

carole: thanks for the heads-up on that procedure! I think it was pretty accurate.

Don said...

warren: i have a few chicks i could give you. they are really cute!

Don said...

susan: Hey you noticed the header changeover, just in time for spring!

THe little light brahmas are active little dudes. The students named them all "popcorn" as they would jump out of your hands just like popcorn.

Don said...

jen: chick day! ours isn't for another month! I don't know how I can resist, but by the second week of april, I will have around 100 birds! (40-50 meat birds and 10 turkeys)

Don said...

nobody but us chickens: I'm glad to hear the black stars are nice hens. I have three, plus five roos. Our power company just notified us that we would have no power on march 7 for about 4 hours. We'll see how weell the chicks hold up in the basement!

Don said...

ginnie: cute chicks make life better! ;)

Don said...

julie: chicks make great moving targets. ruth is honing her photo skills!

I'm glad you enjoy my blog, thank you!

Don said...

bob: thanks bob, yes, ruth took the pics

Berthddu Suit said...

Oh my goodness they are cute!! That's really interesting about the sexing. I would have liked to have known that this time last year when I was struggling to work out which ones of my girls were boys!!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your header is great!!

Don. You sure know how to be the most popular guy at school!!!

But you really deserve it..You are teaching another generation to love the world... great for sharing this with the kids!!! They'll all remember you with smiles!!

Country Girl said...

Don, I can't wait to share that bit of info with Maine Man. I bet the kids enjoyed watching the chicks hatch. I soooo want an incubator but I also have lots of wants: a dishwasher, camera....Some day :)
~Kim

Don said...

Berthddu Suit: They are really cute! Right now, they are so spazzy! They will all of a sudden, just burst into running helter-skelter all over the brooder and then just as suddenly flop down into a deep sleep!

Don said...

gwen: the kids and parents all really hate me, I just make it sound like I want it to!

I like your wolf spider method of educating

Don said...

country girl: I enjoy having the incubator, I wish we lived closer, I'd loan it to you! You might want to check with a local university as I know Michigan State loans theirs out, or charges a minimal fee.

I have a wich list too. maybe we should all get together and donate $5.00 each 3X per year and get our blog friends something on their wish lists! If we got 300 people to do it, we could have fun!

Farm Chick Paula said...

Well I can see how bubble gum testing might have given you some competition! LOL
I love black sex-links... I have 5 and they out-lay all my other hens 2 to 1! And they are very sweet and friendly, too.

carl h. sr. said...

Hi Don,I've been reading about your life on the farm.
I always stop by here,I just haven't been up to commenting regularly at all.
I will keep enjoying 'the Green Barn',and try to comment a little more.

Hot Belly Mama said...

My hubby and I just spent all morning trying to figure out how we can tell our hens apart from our roosters (their about 12 days old). lol.

FYI: Come over to my page to check out the free diaper I am giving away.

Love... Hot Belly Mama

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