If you have been asking yourself what a sex link chicken is, then you have come to the right place. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about a sex-link chicken. Keep reading to learn more.
The world of poultry can be confusing, especially to beginners. There are so many breeds and terms to keep track of. I
f you have ever searched for information about chickens on the internet, you might have come across the term “sex link.”
What Is a Sex Link Chicken?
A sex link chicken is a type of hybrid chicken breed. The hybrid breeds are the result of cross-breeding two or more purebred or heritage chicken breeds.
The result is usually an offspring that produce more meat, lays more eggs, or other desirable traits such as body shape, temperament, or plumage color.
These chickens can be sexed by their dominant feather color on the day they hatch. This makes it easy for chicken keepers to separate females from males in egg farming operations and hatcheries.
Therefore, you can be sure that the chicks you are purchasing from a hatchery or your breeder are hens, and you will not have to figure out what to do with the unwanted roosters as the chicks grow.
Various hatcheries and breeders sell most hybrid sex link chickens under a name. Some of the common names you will come across include:
- Lohmann Brown
- ISA Brown
- Black Sex Link
- Red Sex Link
- Black Star
- Red Star
- Golden Comet
Sex-linked chickens can not produce if they are mated to one another. Therefore, every hatch of sex-linked chicks comes after mating two different chicken breeds.
Red Sex-Linked Chickens
To get red sex-linked chickens, breeders cross a Rhode Island Red rooster with a Delaware, White Plymouth Rock, or a Rhode Island White hen.
These hybrids will produce predominantly red hens and male chicks with distinct white markings.
One of the challenges that come with this combination is the possibility of a mixed bag of offspring.
Some will display the territorial aggression of the Rhode Island Reds, while others will show the calm and friendly nature of the Delaware chicken.
How Do You Breed a Flock of Black Sex Link Chicks?
Black sex link chickens are the product of a non-barred rooster crossed with a barred rooster. They are also known as Black Stars.
To get the perfect offspring, most breeders often use heritage chicken breeds only since crosses often have genetic anomalies that can disrupt the sex link properties.
They make it challenging to sex the chicks when they hatch. The most popular breeds of chicken hens used to produce black sex-linked crosses are the Barred Plymouth Rocks and dual-purpose chickens such as Cuckoo Marans.
The rooster can be a New Hampshire or a Rhode Island Red. To make sexing of the chick offspring easier, you can go for a rooster with red earlobes and dark-colored feathers.
If your rooster has some white spots, it can interfere with the appearance of the offspring. This will make it more difficult for you to distinguish females from males.
Barred Plymouth Rocks are an excellent option if you want black sex-linked crosses.
Benefits Of Sex Link Chickens
There are several benefits of raising sex link chickens in your backyard. Here are some of them.
One of the main reasons why sex-link chicken breeds have become so popular among many backyard chicken keepers is that they are excellent layers. These breeds are prolific egg layers and will ensure that you have a steady supply of eggs throughout the year.
Both red and black sex-link hens lay a lot of eggs and can produce between 250 to 300 large, brown eggs in a year. They will reach their peak at about two or three years of age, at which point they will reliably lay four to six eggs in a week, regardless of the prevailing weather.
Like any other breed of egg-laying chickens, you will need to give them a well-balanced diet so that they live a long and more productive life.
They will require plenty of chicken feed for egg-laying as well as a good source of clean water. In addition, they will require calcium in their diet to help in the formation of strong eggshells.
They Are Color Sexable
This may look like an obvious statement. But if you have ever tried to vent-check a hatched chick, you will appreciate how lovely it can be to have sex-linked crosses that you can easily identify the sex through their physical characteristics.
If you buy a purebred chicken breed, you will likely end up with one or two roosters in your flock. This can be a big problem for those who live in urban areas where roosters are not allowed.
Of course, you may decide to eat the roosters, but not everyone will do that. There are also not many rescue centers to accommodate the unwanted roosters.
Getting sex-linked chicks means you will only get the females, and you will not have challenges dealing with the unwanted roosters.
Generally, sex-linked hens are docile chickens with friendly personalities. You can be sure that your hens will do well when raised with other pets at home.
They are also good for children. Unlike most other breeds, these hybrid hens are calm and non-aggressive most of the time.
They can do good both when confined and when allowed to free-range. They will thrive as backyard chickens, enjoying the space and freedom to free-range or forage.
Any backyard chicken keeper will wish to raise a dual-purpose breed. Sex-linked hens are reliable egg layers as well as good meat producers.
Under good care, a mature hybrid rooster will way about nine pounds, while a mature female bird will way six to seven pounds.
However, not all sex link hybrids fit into this category. Those with parent lines will make excellent dual-purpose chicken breeds.
Some of them are Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, and Brown Sussex. Sex link hybrids, such as the Golden Comets and Cinnamon Queens, have been bred so much to produce eggs, which has made them lose some of their sizes. This makes them not a good option when it comes to meat production.
Lack of Broodiness
Generally, having a broody hen in your backyard flock is not a bad thing. However, it also means the end of her egg production for a few weeks.
If you want a hen that will ensure that you have a constant flow of eggs, then a broody hen may not be a good option.
Sex link hens do not tend to sit on their eggs for a long time. This is because selective breeding emphasizes high egg production to the extent that the broodiness gene is extinct.
The lack of broodiness is good news for backyard chicken keepers who want a lot of eggs but no chicks. It will also ensure that the hen maintains her condition.
Challenges When Raising Sex Link Chickens
Here are a few challenges you will encounter when raising sex link chickens.
Difficult to Breed
Sex link breeding may not be an easy thing, especially if you want to breed birds that will stand a chance of competing at the American Poultry Association (APA) show.
These breeds are not recognized by the APA and do not breed true. This means that you will likely end up with a mixed bag offspring, not sex-linked.
In addition, it can be virtually not possible to predict how bi your birds will get or whether or not they will be prolific egg layers.
You Want Broilers!
Generally, sex-linked chicks mature quickly compared to chicks of most other breeds. However, they do not grow particularly fast or reach the standard sizes of the common broiler chicken breeds.
Every backyard chicken keeper will want his flock to have a long and more productive lifespan. Unfortunately, sex-linked chickens are not a great option if you want to raise birds that will be around for a long time.
An average backyard chicken has a lifespan of around 6 to 10 years, but the black and red sex link hybrids will live for less than half that. Although they mature much early, they also age faster and will live for two to four years.
If you do not like seeing your birds getting old, you can consider heritage chicken breeds such as the Wyandottes.
They Can Be Noisy
No one will want to raise noisy birds. In fact, most residential areas do not allow roosters because most of them are generally noisy.
Backyard chicken enthusiasts say that although red sex-linked crosses are friendly, some of them are much noisier than the average backyard chicken. They will make squawks and cackles when laying eggs.
Sex link chickens have become popular across the world, with some even fearing they might take over coops.
You are now answered if you have been asking yourself what a sex link chicken is. These hardy and friendly birds are excellent layers that will ensure you have a constant supply of eggs throughout the year.