Sexing of day-old chicks
Sexing day-old chicks can be accomplished by one of two methods: 1) vent sexing or 2) feather sexing. Each method has difficulties that make it unsuitable for use by the small flock owner. Vent sexing relys on the visual identification of sex based on appearance of sexual organs. Feather sexing is based on differences in feather characteristics at hatch time. A brief explanation of each method is as follows.
Vent sexing of chicks at hatching has complications that make it more difficult than sex determination of most other animals. The reason is that the sexual organs of birds are located within the body and are not easily distinguishable. The copulatory organ of chickens can be identified as male or female by shape, but there are over fifteen different different shapes to consider. Therefore, few people have experience with determining the sex of birds because of the difficult nature of the process. Most of these highly trained individuals are employed by large commercial hatcheries. The training to be a chick sexer is so difficult and lengthy that the average poultry owner finds it unjustifiable.
Feather sexing is based on feather characteristics that differ between male and female chicks. The method is very easy to learn by the poultryman, but the feather appearances are determined by specially selected genetic traits that must be present in the chick strain. Most strains (breeds) of chickens do not have these feather sexing characteristics and feathering of both sexes appear identical.
The most convenient method of sexing chickens by the small flock owner is to care for the birds until they begin showing the natural secondary characteristics of their sex. In males, the combs and wattles will become larger than those on females and the head will become more angular and masculine looking. The female will remain smaller than the male and is more refined or feminine looking. In some varieties the feathers of each sex will develop a characteristic color pattern that identifies it. These varieties of birds are similar to the feather-sex strains of chickens discussed above. Sexing based on secondary sex characteristics can usually be performed after chicks attain 4 to 6 weeks of age.
Poultry is big business in Mississippi, and poultry producers are having to manage disease and high feed costs to produce the meat and eggs that Americans consume in great quantities. Poultry is the most consumed meat in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, followed by beef and then pork. Eggs are also popular, with Americans eating close to 250 eggs per person each year.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi Board of Animal Health reported Feb. 23 that a backyard poultry flock in Copiah County tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, often referred to as HPAI or H5N1.
This is the second backyard flock to test positive for HPAI. The first confirmation was in Lowndes County in November 2022. There have also been two detections in commercial broiler flocks, one in Lawrence County in November 2022 and the other in Leake County in February. All affected facilities were quarantined, and the birds were depopulated to prevent spreading.
Shoppers facing sticker shock at the grocery store know that eggs are part of the cost increase, but they may not know why.
Josh Maples, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said egg prices over the Christmas holiday were more than double what they were at the same time in 2021.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Poultry was already Mississippi’s top agricultural commodity before its overall value increased even more in 2022.
The estimated value of production for the state’s poultry in 2022 was $3.8 billion. This 48% increase over 2021’s record production value of $2.6 billion will rewrite the record books if these totals hold when the final numbers are released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture next April.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi Board of Animal Health is asking backyard bird owners to be vigilant in their biosecurity procedures after a commercial breeder chicken flock in Lawrence County tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.