I get many requests for female day-old chicks, and that’s just not something I can provide. After hatching for many years I can take educated guesses on chicks under 2 weeks old, but I won’t sell guaranteed pullets until about six weeks old. Yes, hatcheries can sell day old sexed pullets, but they pay professionals that have learned to vent sex to sex hundreds of chicks at one time. Vent sexing is an art form, and not something that the average hobbyist should attempt.
I get many customers that have bought “sexed pullets” only to have them start growing large combs a few weeks later, or worse, keep them so long that they start crowing. I’ve had people tell me about wing feather sexing, tail feather sexing, even saying “Hold them upside down. If it tries to pull itself up it’s a boy, if it just stays there it’s a girl”.
What??? With any method of sexing there are only two possibilities, boy or girl. There’s a 50% chance the person doing the sexing will be right, but that also means you may wind up with 5 boys when you bought 10 “girls”. Most honorable people will swap them out when proven wrong, but then you lose your time and money having to return the unwanted boys. That can be expensive if you have driven a long distance to buy a specific breed. We won’t sell our pullets until we are 100% sure. I can make a decent guess at 2-4 weeks, all based on combs and wattles, so I won’t sell chicks this age. I don’t want someone to feel like I’m trying to oversell them roosters, and in just a few more weeks I can sell the pullets for more money. After 2 weeks the chicks aren’t for sale until they are 6-8 weeks old, there are always one or two that will keep me guessing a little longer.
The good thing about Marans is the boys start developing much faster than some other breeds, so we can still sell them young. I also have customers that have bought straight run chicks from us that aren’t sure how to separate the boys and girls as they grow. I have a couple of pictures that I send them of an eight week old cockerel and a six week old pullet that are obvious, that show the differences in combs and wattles that we look for.
Marans pullets’ combs will stay very small for a long time. They are often blackish or a very pale pink, but we don’t use color to make our decision. Some pullets’ combs will be more pink than others, but bright red at this age is a good indication it could be a boy.
Wattles are our other indicator. Young pullets will either have no wattles at all, or very small wattles that are only visible when looked at closely.
Marans cockerels’ combs and wattles develop much more quickly than the pullets. This boy was a fast developer, not all boys will have such prominent combs and wattles at this age, but this is a good picture to show the difference. The comb is well developed, thick at the base, and bright red. The wattles are already hanging well below the jaw, and also bright red.
If you are looking to only buy pullets, or a certain number of pullets with one or two boys, then you can be sure that’s what you are getting when you buy from us. You may have to wait a little longer, and pay a little more for the girls, but you are still getting young birds that are guaranteed to be what you expected