- When they will start to lay eggs (Point of Lay)
- If they are a rooster
This can be a tricky subject because everything will depend on the BREED.
Whenever anyone sees my Ancona chickens they immediately think they are all roosters because their comb and wattle are so large, but that is their breed type.
So how can we tell?
Time Line of Development
Below are French Wheaten Maran Chicks at 3 weeks of age.
The colouring of the males is different to the females in this breed. But also the leg size indicates a male.
This is not indicative of every breed.
The males are very noticeable. There is no colour difference in feathering, but the wattle and comb is bright red.
The combs on the males are slightly more distinct and redder in most cases.
Notice that the wattles under the chin are also quite bright red.
Before chickens come into point of lay (POL) when they will start their egg laying life, it can become a big guessing game with certain breeds.
Below are purebred Australorp pullets at 7 weeks of age.
The combs and wattles are larger, brighter red and distinct.
The boys have developed a different colour and have very distinct cape development around their neck.
Their tails took a very long time to grow. The saddle feathers on the middle chicken are noticeable now.
This is before any of the boys started crowing.
At 2 months is was very difficult to tell the males from the females.
But by 5 months the boys become very noticeable.
Distinguishing male from female is very difficult to do as their combs and wattles often develop very late.
This can vary. The male chicks can sometimes be more noticeable than the pullets.
The boys usually develop a very red rose comb. It takes time for it to fill out, so it can be a little deceiving.
I would estimate that they would be 2-3 weeks away from laying their first egg. Maybe she is 15 weeks old.
We can tell by the size of the comb. It is not big enough to indicate maturity.
- Point of Lay
When a hen starts to lay her first eggs, this is called Point of Lay (POL).
Hybrids like the ISA Brown and utility Australorp (x New Hampshire) start around 18 to 21 weeks of age.
Their combs fill out and become red. Their wattles also start to grow now.
If they were boys, they would show very distinctly at this age.
Many only begin at 6 to 9 months. There are some breeds that do not start until 10 months.
Can you wait that long?
If you buy these late layers at POL, their price increases. They are cheaper to purchase at a much younger age.
- Bright red comb and wattle
- Stronger and long legs
- Attempt to make strange noises (more of a screech or strangled sound)
- Colour distinction in some breeds
- Feathering between day 1 to day 10 of life (GIRLS develop faster!)
- When laid on their back, are more likely to kick their legs
- Willingness to fight and have face-offs with other males.
- Bright red comb and wattle (1)
- Cape development around the neck (2)
- Saddle feathers (3)
- Long tail (4)
- Stronger and longer legs (5)
- Willingness to fight and have face-offs with other males
- Spur buds on the legs become noticeable
- At 2 to 3 months the tail feathers of a male will be more ragged and not at uniform and neat as the females
- Attempt to crow around 5-6 months of age
- Legs develop the pantaloon look (feathering at the top of their legs)
The exception to these rules do apply to breeds such as Silkies. Their development is unique. Best to determine by comb.