The new kids on the block series
Meet our curiously and uninspiringly named Black Sex Linked chickens. Now don’t get too excited, the odd sounding name is really more of a description than the name of any true deviant characteristic.
The Black Sex Link Hybrid is the result of crossing two purebred standard breeds. The Rhode Island Red rooster and the Barred Rock hen. By doing this cross breeding you end up getting baby chicks that are color sexed- the males have faded white spots on the top of their heads with light colored neck feathers and the females or pullets are black with golden red mixed in their neck hackle feathers.
This is an important distinction, because sexing baby chicks can only be done reliably within a narrow window – between 1 and 3 days after hatching. Even when performed by professionals (a person with the dubious title “chicken sexer”), chicken sexing is only about 95% reliable.
And if you’re up on your math, you know that that means there is a 5% chance you could get a rooster. Don’t get me wrong, roosters are fine – if that’s what you want, but if you didn’t want one and got one by surprise, it’s very close to living in hell on earth (especially when you have neighbors nearby).
As you can see, color-coding at birth can be a wonderful thing.
This makes life lovely if you are interested in purchasing only female chicks (like we did) and it makes life pretty miserable if you happen to be born a boy Black Sex Link.
Although Sex Link birds can be sold as straight runs -meaning you get what you get including a few roosters – in reality, there’s not too much demand for boys of this variety. Because they are a hybrid cross, they don’t breed true meaning that you don’t know what you’ll end up with when a Black Sex Link rooster mates – for some people this is an issue.
As a result the males are usually destroyed (culled) shortly after birth or raised solely for meat. Either way if you are a boy, you probably don’t want to be Sex Linked (or linked with sex as I counsel my 4 teenaged sons).
If you’re a girl, though, you’re golden. You get put into a shipment of “Pullets only” and get snapped up by anxious chicken buyers shortly after you arrive at the feed store. And you get to come home and have 6 kids “ooh” and “ahh” over how cute you are.
Don’t let all this talk of sex characteristics rattle you, Black Sex Link chicks are simply adorable. Tiny little black puff balls, they look like the heads of dandelions gone to seed and dipped in charcoal.
In our chick shipment this spring we ordered 6 Black Sex Linked and 6 Golden Comets. All 6 have reached maturity and are doing well. A hardy, sleek lady with a golden feathered cape, these beauties lay rugged brown eggs and although they are rumored to make good fryers, none in our flock will ever need worry about that.