Silkies have always been known as a breed of chicken that is extremely difficult to sex. Most people will tell you that you won’t know the sex of your silkie until it either crows or lays an egg. I am going to give you some helpful hints and tricks to improve your chances of getting the sex of silkie chick that you desire.
Lets start with looking at physical appearance in newborn chicks. A boy may be slightly bigger than a girl chick. It will have thicker, more sturdy legs than a female. Remember that you need to judge each by its own color. My buffs are always bigger than my other colors. You can’t judge a buff against a white for size for example. You need to judge them within their own color group and within their own hatch mates.
A male chick will be more curious and outgoing than a female. If you put your finger into the brooder, the males will tend to peck at it more than the females will. A males will just have a more tough guy look to it and will be more likely to look you in the eye.
At ages two to four weeks, behavior will still be a good indicator. I notice that when taking pictures the boys tend to stand in the front, between the the unfamiliar camera and the girls in the back of the group. The boys will lift their heads up high and stand up straighter. The females will hunch down lower to the ground. If you make a noise or move your fingers, the boys will be more curious and come closer to you.
At around five weeks, I begin looking at their combs. I notice that the comb tends to be wider on the males and more narrow on the females. The boys will also begin to develop a bump that is circular in the middle of the comb. This bump will become larger as the chick grows. The female’s will stay flat for awhile..
Behavior is still important. Boys will need more room as they start to chest bump the others and hopping around the brooder. Females will chest bump too but it is really more of a boy thing. Males will continue to be more outgoing and curious.
At around twelve weeks the girls will begin to have a slight bump in their comb making it more difficult to tell them apart. Males will begin to develop small red wattles under and on either side of their beaks. The comb begins to look redder in the males.
Obvious boys are easy to tell. It is very apparent that they are males in looks and behavior. Late blooming boys are much harder. They can look like females for a long time and then suddenly develop a male boy type.
Boys will also sound different from girls when you pick them up. Boys will make more of a honking sound which will gradually develop into a crow.
As boys grow and develop their body shape will change and they will begin to grow streamer feathers from the back of their heads. Their combs will become prominent and red wattles will appear. Girls will have a pom pom shape to their crest . They will also sit lower to the ground with boys standing up straighter.
Remember – until an egg is laid, we are guessing as to gender. These guesses are based on observation but nothing is 100% accurate unless you have a DNA test done. These hints should help you make a guess as to what sex your silkie chicks is, but do not be surprised if your little pullet suddenly begins to crow!
VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul. We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available. Follow us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.