As you raise barred rock roosters and barred rock hens, knowing the sex distinction is a necessity, especially if they are backyard chickens and you are breeding them for egg production.
This article is written to help you differentiate female and male Barred Rocks, from babies to adults, by watching their visual appearance.
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How To Identify A Barred Rock Rooster Vs Hen
The differences between a mature Barred Rock rooster and a hen are quite easy to spot once you understand them.
The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at their comb. Barred rock roosters have a large upright comb while the comb of a hen is smaller. But their feathers and size also differ.
The first and most visually distinctive feature of a grown-up Barred Rock cockerel is its comb.
Compared to the hen, the rooster has a red, larger comb that stands upright and spreads around its face and under its neck.
When it is around 5 to 6 weeks of age, the rooster’s comb will start growing bigger, taking 3 to 9 months to be fully developed.
The Sickle Feathers
The tail of a male Barred Rock chicken has noticeable longer barred feathers at the end, which are also called “sickle feathers”.
Another interesting fact is that hens will grow their tail and wing feathers sooner than male barred rocks, although, at the end, the feathers on the tails of hens are shorter.
The Hackle Feathers
The hackle feathers, which are around the neck, start to develop when the male chickens reach 2-3 months of age.
Hackle feathers on roosters are longer and pointier compared to the short and round hackle feathers of hens.
The Body Feather
In terms of body feathers, Barred Rock hens usually have smaller white bars, making their overall plumage slightly lighter than that of the male.
Roosters Crow But Hens Don’t
Well, you do not need us to tell you that roosters crow, and chances are when you hear this sound in your garden, you will already know its gender.
So, at what age do Barred Rock roosters start crowing?
The truth is, roosters crow around 6 to 8 weeks of age and thus you can spot a young rooster by its crow.
If you are lucky, you can even hear a crow from a 1-month-old male chick.
That is how we can use this method to sex barred rocks at an early age.
If after six months, you have never heard your chicken crow, then you can be sure it is a hen.
It does sound unrealistic, but many people do confirm the case. Just so you know, a male chick may not look anywhere like a rooster yet even if he acts like one.
Why Knowing Sex Distinctions Is Important
In poultry farming, female chickens are kept for eggs while male ones are unwanted.
The cockerels, or a young intact male chicken, are then usually separated for further breeding purposes.
Also, male and female chickens that are raised for meat have different feeding programs.
That is why telling the gender of the chicks from the very beginning is very important to gain the effectiveness of the industry.
Also, for local chicken keepers, depending on the area where you live, Barred Rock cockerels can be forbidden because of the noise they make.
So, it is necessary to have a look at the local laws before choosing suitable gender for your farm.
Gender Differences In Baby Chicks
Sexing has a higher percentage of accuracy when the chickens are older, around 5-6 weeks of age because you can base it on their physical appearances.
For young chicks, however, this task is harder even for someone who has experience.
The younger the chick, the harder it is to sex them correctly.
But it is still important to be able to distinguish between male and female chicks.
What most experienced people will look for is a white spot on top of the chick’s head.
A male Barred Rock chick will have a large spot while his newborn sister has a smaller one.
Another feature to be used is the feathers. Placing one male chick next to one female, you might be able to see that the male feather is darker.
Of course, nothing is absolute when it comes to sexing young baby chickens, but you can trust this method for its 80% accuracy.
Other Ways To Sex A Chicken
If the above methods don’t work for your case, here are a few more methods you can try:
Venting is considered to be the most accurate among other sexing methods and can be done as soon as one day after the chick is hatched.
To sex a chick with this method, you will have to push gently on the chick’s sex organ and then spread it out.
Even when the chicken is still a baby, there are already differences between the vent of a female and a male.
Nevertheless, venting can be extremely hard to do and not for anyone without a lot of practice and experience.
If not done properly, you can damage the chick’s vent for good or even kill it.
So, it is not unnecessary at all to ask for a reliable breeder to do it for you.
2. Feather Sexing
Another safer method is feather sexing, also known as wing sexing.
Exactly like what it is called, you can tell the gender of your chicks by looking at the feathers of their wings.
Similar to venting, feather sexing should take place when the baby chicks are one day old, and it is important not to delay because you may lose the chance to spot the difference.
Because female chicks grow their wing feathers even before hatching, their feathers will be more visible than the male’s right after being born.
To do this, spread the wing out and if you see an evenly curved shape, you are holding a male.
Meanwhile, the lengths of a pullet chick’s feathers vary, forming a two-step curve shape.
Although feather sexing appears to be safer than venting, it is still not a risk-free process.
One-day-old chicks have very delicate wings and their bones are still small and soft. If you pull it too hard, you possibly damage the chick’s wing forever.
3. Check The Comb
Observing physical differences is easier and safer than venting and feather sexing. Although it is less accurate and you may have to take more time, the risk is low.
And yes, you can do it by checking the chick’s comb.
Spend a little bit of time watching the comb grow a few weeks after hatching. If you find a taller, fuller comb, it is highly likely you are looking at a male chick.
Besides its size and shape, the color of the comb is a reliable indication.
In whatever colors, the comb of a male chick is usually brighter than that of a female.
Another easily seen feature is in the wattle.
A young male comb is fast-growing, longer, and brighter in color. But generally, the earliest wattle-growing chicks in your flock are going to crow one day.
4. Observe The Behavior
Another method of sexing that requires good observation is through watching the chick’s behavior.
If you spot a chick that has the boldness to look directly at you, with a cocking head, it most likely is not a female.
Young male barred rooster chicks are also more likely to fight, which includes bumping, pecking, or kicking each other, slamming each other’s chests, etc.
Of course, this is not 100% accurate. And although it is rare, you can still find an aggressive, likely-to-fight female chick once in a while.
Read More: How Are Chicken Eggs Fertilized by a Rooster? Learn the basics of chicken reproduction in this guide!
How big does a Barred Rock rooster get?
Barred Rock roosters can weigh up to 9.5 pounds whereas hens weigh up to only 7.5 pounds.
Why do roosters crow at 3am?
Roosters crow in the early morning hours to alert hens of any perceived threats. Crowing at any time is a rooster guarding his flock.
Why does my rooster not crow?
A rooster may not crow for a few reasons. They may not have reached that level of maturity and development, they are sick, or they are not the dominant male in the flock.
How long do Barred Rocks live?
Barred Rock chickens live approximately 6 to 8 years but have been known to live 10 to 12 years.
How many eggs do Barred Rocks lay a year?
Barred Rock hens can lay up to 250 large brown eggs a year.
Can 2 roosters live together?
As long as there is no competition for resources, and if hens are also present, 2 roosters can live together.
How many hens does a Barred Rock rooster need?
To keep a flock happy, it is best to have 1 barred rock rooster for every 10 barred rock hens as long as every chick has enough space and food.
What is the difference between Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock?
Barred Rock chickens are actually black and white Plymouth rock chickens. They are from the same family and are technically called Barred Plymouth Rock chickens.
You may have heard people say “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, or “Don’t count the roosters before their crows”.
No matter how accurate the sexing method may seem, mistakes do happen, and that’s okay.
We hope that after reading, you now have a handful of knowledge of how to identify if you have a barred rock rooster vs hen. Don’t hesitate to share with us your own experience!