I was chatting with my friend Maya Reynolds the other day and she always asks me a ton of questions about the chickens. Our last conversation was about sex and how to tell the boys from the girls.
In many birds you can't tell gender until they mature. And in some breeds, like emu and rhea, not even then.
In our younger days we used to raise rhea and emu and became the local experts, even earning a bit of celebrity in tv and newspapers. In a roundabout way, it also launched my writing career. Who knew fondling a big bird's peas and carrots would turn me into a writer? Life is very strange sometimes.
So for all of your prurient pleasure, here's the lowdown. It's called vent-sexing, and yes, it's just like it sounds. You take the bird in question and with your fingers, spread the vent until something pops out. If it's a boy rhea or emu, a long, whitish penis furls out.
It looks hideous. There's just no other way to say it. I would've posted pictures, but I don't want to be accused of bird porn.
Besides, what does it say about you if you want to see such things? LOL. So trust me. It's gross.
Even though we sexed and banded our rheas and emu when they were young birds, we always had to re-sex them to assure the buyer of what he was getting. I'd make the buyer crouch down with me so he could inspect the bird while Greg held the beast down.
Let me tell you, the person who holds the big bird has to be incredibly strong and must like you a lot. If he lets go, the person at the other end (moi) would be placed in serious danger.
Ratites (rhea, emu, ostrich) are ALL legs, and they're powerful kickers. There are stories where people have been gutted by an adult ostrich. You do not take chances with an animal sporting claws sharp enough to split you open.
I learned to be quick and realized Greg must really like me because I never once got hurt while he was holding them down.
If anyone asks me if I trust my husband with my life, I'd say yes. He's proved it dozens of times over.
We do not vent-sex chicken chicks. In the first place, you'll find out what they are in a few months anyway. And in the second place, clumsy handling could kill a young chick. Unless you're an expert (and there are very few) the next best way to sex a (chicken) chick is by feather-sexing.
A few hours after hatching, the chicks will have dried off. Females will have staggered short and long layers of feathers at the tip of their wings. The wingtips of the males will be all the same length. After a few days you won't be able to tell the difference, so you'll want to feather-sex them within the first couple of days.
A few breeds of chickens, called sex-link chickens, display gender at hatching--but I don't have any of those. For us, it doesn't matter. If they're girls, we keep them. If they're boys...well, let's just say only a few boys get to sow their oats. But we'll talk about that in a future post.
During my upcoming blog tour some unlucky host is going to get my Sex and the Chicken: the Randy Rooster post. I haven't decided who's getting that one yet. I promise, it'll have something to do with Apocalypse Rising.
Is there anything special you want to know about chicken
porn--I mean sex?