Sexing your standard or common chicken breeds can be tough and confusing at times. With crested variety chicks, it can often be even more difficult to discern. Crested chicks (such as Sultans, Crevecoeurs and Polishes) are well… crested, making their combs not as visible. However, they are also slow to mature and often bearded (which means wattle development is often not very discernible). To top that, Crested chicks are usually sold straight run because of the similitude of the pullets and cockerels. This makes your chances of getting a little rooster much higher…
Disclosures about Chick Sexing Methods:
I do not advise vent sexing for the average chicken-keeper. This method is not completely accurate (even trained professionals have a margin for error). Additionally, chicks’ newly developing reproductive parts are very delicate. It is very easy to injure or damage them doing this.
Crest sexing is only somewhat effective when chicks are breed standard. People told me that my Golden-laced Polish pullet was a cockerel because her crest was wild and floppy… Though her crest looked like a Polish rooster’s crest, it was merely that she was not bred very true to the American Standard.
How to Sex Crested Chicks:
Note: I have included lots of images in this post. I found that looking at pictures of both male and female chicks of the same breed and age was a major help when identifying gender.
All chickens have what you call gender differentiable characteristics. The most common characteristics in chickens that are gender differentiable are:
Comb, Wattles, Posture, Build, Growth Pattern, Feathering and Behavior.
The Comb & Wattles
Crested chickens have ‘V’ combs (which are also called horns). I have seen partial crested breeds/hybrids (such as Legbars and Olive Eggers) with pea or single combs. However, all fully crested varieties have V combs. Some crested chickens have a partial combination of horns with hints of a small single comb in the middle.
Roosters begin showing signs of extra comb and wattle development at a fairly early age. Knowing ‘how’ and ‘what’ to look for is key.
Note: Bearded varieties have very small (if any at all wattles).
Young cockerels, even at such a young age, usually carry themselves in a slightly different (more alert, defensive and erect) way from pullets.
Cockerels have thicker legs and longer toes than females (of the same age and breed). Their legs are also longer looking. Cockerels generally tend to be thicker and heavier… while not being nessecarily fatter.
Cockerels mature at a different rate than pullets. They will naturally be noticeably heavier by their 2nd week. I kept the weights of my Crevecoeurs with a packing scale. This greatly assisted me in the determination of gender. You can take a look at my pdf record by clicking this link:
Feather patterning becomes more distinct with pullets vs cockerels as they mature. However, it is less obvious with newly feathered chicks.
As you may notice the side profiles and saddle shots of the polishes in the slideshow below, you can see that the pullet’s feathers are ‘blunted’ or rounded at the ends while the cockerel’s are thinner, more pointed and looser. The most noticeable difference is generally seen on the back of the chicken and tail.
A Note on the Crest:
Crested chickens’ crests are not all the same. Though it is often true that the males’ crests are wild and the hens’ rounded, as you can see in the gallery below, it was the golden-laced polish pullet that had the wild crest and not the Tolbunt cockerel. This is largely due to breeding. For this reason, I tend to look at the feathers on the crest (i.e. how pointy the crest feathers are, how rigid they are and how they fall into place on the bird’s head) as opposed to just the appearance of the crest as a whole.
Young cockerels will be naturally assertive over the others. Cockerels will assume their role even before they fully mature by taking their predominant place in the pecking order. Though this is not always true, cockerels tend to be bolder and more assertive than pullets. They are more likely to investigate strange happenings while the little ladies stay back.
Below are slideshows of crested chicks (males vs females) growing up alongside one another for a visual reference.
Crevecoeur cockerel growing up alongside a couple Crevecoeur pullets:
Polish cockerel vs pullet (different color variations from different breeders now… Tolbunt and golden-laced):
Need help determining the gender identity or breed of your chicks? I can not guarantee a sure answer on any age (it highly varies on if it is a breed I am highly familiar with vs one I have little experience with). However, I would be happy to help in any way I could at no cost to you. Please visit me at my Contact Page with pictures of your peeps!