Help for Determining the Sex of Silkie Bantams

It’s difficult, but not totally impossible to determine the sex of a Silkie. There are signs that can help you long before the first egg or crow of a rooster. Behavior and size can be a good indication of sex.

Roosters are often more bold, have that sturdy or stronger look, and sometimes they are larger. These are noticeable traits, even when chicks are still in the brooder.  Look for brighter, or sharper distinction of color in birds of the same when they reach 8 or 9 weeks. Rooster seem to stand out more, dazzling you with a little wow factor.

These Silkies are all just under 3 months old, 2 white, 2 buff. The white Silkie pictured below is  probably a Rooster. He is much larger, and has been at the top of the pecking order since the second week of life. The size between pic 1 and 2 is obvious, recognizing behavior traits is something you’ll notice by watching your own birds.

Pic 1: (Jo)  Probably a Rooster

Jo, Silkie 12-17-14

Pic 2: (Pat) Probably a Pullet

Pat, Silkie 12-17-14

Pic 3: Front, (Fanny) Probably a Rooster. Rear, (Randi) Probably a Pullet

Fanny 2 Silkie 12-17-14

All we really can do is learn behavior traits of roosters and recognize indications such as size. But I must admit, I’ve been absolutely positive on having a Silkie rooster… and been surprised 6 months later when it laid an egg.  Gotta love those Silkie Bantams!

FYI: Most, if not all hatcheries sell only straight-run (unsexed) Silkie Bantams except My Pet Chicken. They offer sexed female Silkie chicks at a higher price. They also will ship only a few. They did a good job sexing five female Silkies for me, 4 out of 5 were indeed females.

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How to Determine the Point of Lay

Buying young chickens ready to start laying? Then you should know how to determine a pullets age so you can provide a proper diet until the first egg.

If you buy your birds as chicks you can expect to feed and care for them for 22 to 24 weeks before they reach their point of lay. However, this depends on the breed, time of year, and the level of care they have received. It is not uncommon for some breeds to take even longer to mature and not produce until 25 to 30 weeks.

SIlkie 5 months

Some people would rather skip chick rearing altogether and buy pullets already at their point of lay. Sounds like a good plan, but you’ll have to be patient with that choice as well. Even if they are in fact laying eggs, they will most likely stop for as long as 2 months when they are moved to a new environment. It’s important to know the bird’s true age too, point of lay doesn’t mean they are laying… it means they will lay in the near future.

Knowing the age of a pullet is important, you don’t want to feed a layer diet too early. Most people buy chickens to have a fresh supply of eggs. Rushing young birds may cause serious health issues, and that doesn’t fill the egg basket!

So how can you tell if a pullet is actually close to laying? There is a simple way to check age and the approximate point of lay.

Here’s How…

Pick up the pullet and tuck her head under your arm. Situate her so you can easily get to her rear end or vent area.

Locate the 2 pelvic bones.
If the pullet is not yet laying, the pelvic bones will be very close together.
If she just started laying the pelvic bones will be about 1 finger apart.
As a pullet matures and produces eggs, you will  be able to put 2 to 3 fingers between the pelvic bones.

This test will give you an idea of a pullets age, it can’t tell you when you’ll get that first egg, but it will help you determine what the pullets feed requirements are while your waiting.

Brooder Shed for Silkies and Hatchlings

Finally! This is my finished brooder shed with a custom built brooder box for my Silkie hens and their hatchlings. The shed is 8×10, it was just a bare bones structure with a window, double doors, and two sidewall vents. Today it has vinyl flooring, electric, insulation & drywall, overhead lighting and is temperature controlled.

All my Silkies live primarily in the chicken coop. However, now when a hen becomes *broody she’ll be moved to the brooder shed where she’ll sit on fertile eggs until they hatch. The chicks will then stay with the hen until they’re sold… or moved to their own chicken yard when fully feathered to be later sold as *point of lay pullets.

 

Broody:  When the hen has an urge to sit on her eggs to try and hatch them.
Point of Lay Pullet: Young female chicken just about to lay,  5-6 months old.

 

First Time Broody

Tulip is one of three 7.5 month old Silkies that has gone broody for the first time. There are four Silkies total, but one hasn’t shown any interest in motherhood at all. Of the three pullets, two stayed broody for only a week and left the nest. But Tulip has dedicated herself for 18 days now. Next time she’s broody I’ll put fertile eggs under her, and let her be useful while she’s busy not laying eggs.

So far, Tulip has been a good broody pullet. Not one of those scary hens who never seem to leave the nest to eat or drink. She comes out to scratch in the dirt, peck around in the feeder, drink, and back she goes to the nest. I like that!

Broody Tulip 4-18-14

Related Reading:

Broody Hens vs Incubators
Breaking the Broody Hen