Australorps are one of the most popular breeds of chickens among backyard chicken owners because these docile birds are known for being quiet and friendly.
Before you add some baby chicks to your backyard flock, it is important to understand the common methods of chicken sexing.
Chicken sexing is crucial for determining whether you are purchasing hens or roosters.
And some methods are better than others.
Black Australorp chicks are one of the most challenging breeds of chickens to sex.
So, is it possible to reliably sex Australorp chicks?
Most people will have little trouble sexing Australorp chickens once they reach 6 weeks old to check comb and wattle growth. Vent sexing Australorp chicks is the most complex method, but it has a 90% accuracy rate. Baby roosters will have a more prominent comb and wattle than the females.
Even the most accurate ways of sexing Australorps are not always 100% guaranteed, as each bird is different in its own way.
The differences between Australorp hens and roosters become more apparent as they age.
Sometimes, the only way to know if your Australorp chick is male or female is to wait until the bird is old enough to crow or lay eggs.
Read on to learn more about common methods for sexing Australorp chicks and what to do if you end up with roosters you thought were hens.
How Vent Sexing Australorp Chickens Works
Chick vent sexing is not something an amateur backyard chicken keeper should do.
If vent sexing is not done correctly, it could lead to injury or death of the baby chickens.
Large-scale breeders and chick hatcheries usually employ professionals with lots of training to vent sex chicks.
Vent sexing is a complex method, and it is done when the chicks are just hours old.
A chicken sexer begins the process by gently squeezing the chick so it expels feces.
This opens the chick’s vent and allows the sexer to see inside.
Male chicks will have a visible bump in the vent, and the females will not.
This method has an accuracy rate of over 90% but is not entirely foolproof.
Very rarely, a female chick may be born with a bump in her vent, but it is very small compared to the bump inside a male’s vent.
An inexperienced chicken sexer may see this smaller bump and assume the chick is a male when it is a female.
Vent sexing is the most reliable method of sexing Australorps until they are old enough to develop discernable traits.
Sexing Australorps By Normal Observation
Once Australorp chicks are around six weeks old, their combs and wattles will begin to develop.
Knowing what to look for may help determine whether your chicks are male or female.
Rooster chicks will have prominent, bright combs and wattles.
The comb and wattles of hen chicks will be much smaller and paler.
It may sometimes take up to eight weeks for the comb and wattle to develop enough to be noticeable.
The combs and wattles of Australorp chicks stand out against their black feathers.
Aside from vent sexing, this is one of the most reliable methods of sexing Black Australorp chicks.
The only downside to this method is having to wait several weeks for the comb and wattle to develop.
Why Feather Sexing Australorp Chicks is Difficult
There are several ways to sex chicks by looking at their feathers.
With Australorps, these methods are challenging.
The intense beetle-green sheen of their black feathers makes it difficult to see feather sprout patterns.
Checking feather sprout patterns to determine the sex of a chick must be done within 48-72 hours of hatching.
Wing sexing is done by gently spreading out the wings of a chick.
The feathers on a female chick’s wing will be two different lengths, and the male’s wing feathers will be uniform and all one length.
Further Reading: Will Australorp chickens fly away?
Feather shapes will also help determine the sex of Australorps.
But you will have to wait to use this method until the chicks develop their feathers.
You will look at the hackle feathers, which grow at the base of the neck, and the saddle feathers near the tail.
It typically takes around 8-10 weeks for Australorps to develop these feathers.
Hens will have rounded hackle and saddle feathers, whereas these feathers on a rooster will be long and pointy.
Roosters will also develop curved sickle feathers on their tail, while hens do not have long tail feathers.
When the chicks are younger, you may be able to sex them by looking at feather growth.
Female chicks are usually larger than males and quickly develop close-fitting, soft feathers when they are very young.
Male chicks grow more slowly at first, and their feather growth is often patchy when young.
Eventually, the rooster chicks have a growth spurt and become much larger than the hens.
What To Do If You Got a Rooster Instead of a Hen
You have raised your batch of chicks you have been told are Australorp hens, only to find out they are roosters.
The chicken sexing process is not entirely foolproof, and even professional chicken sexers make mistakes at least 10% of the time.
So, what do you do with the extra roosters?
Most large hatcheries or professional breeders will refund your money when they get the sex of the chicks wrong, but they usually do not accept the return of the birds.
These no-return policies are in place because there is no way to be sure the chicks have not developed mites or disease while in your care, and they could taint the breeder’s existing flock.
Some cities have ordinances forbidding the ownership of roosters in backyard flocks.
Even if these ordinances are not in place where you live, the general rule is to only have one rooster for every ten hens.
The best thing to do is search your local area for other chicken owners or farms looking for roosters to buy.
You will likely be able to sell your extra roosters since these beautiful birds are highly sought after.
Further Reading: Are Australorp Chickens Noisy?
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