Post disclaimer: This one isn’t for the squeamish or faint at heart!
Have you ever wondered how farmers determine which chickens are male and which are females? While it’s clear that female chickens would be more desirable for farmers looking to sell eggs and the specific chickens that produce them, not everyone knows how the sex of a chicken is determined in the first place…
Sex Chickens; Make Bank
The most traditional way of determining a chick’s sex has been through the use of chick sexers. A popular profession in some Asian countries, chick sexers who are able to do their job with a near-perfect percentage of accuracy are rewarded handsomely. From making upwards of six figures each year to being housed for free, chick sexing is a lucrative career for those who can acquire the necessary skills of speed and accuracy.
Chick sexers go through extensive training that can take years to finish. To do the job well and maintain your position, a chick sexer needs to possess discipline, focus and intuition. Not to mention practice–chick sexers can practice upwards of 100s of hours before being hired by a farmer. Furthermore, there are actual chick sexing schools (one of which is the Zen-Nippon school which offers a two-year chick sexing certification program).
There are two types of chick sexing techniques: Vent sexing and feather sexing. For the latter, a heavy does of gene science is involved as a specific chicken gene was isolated and a strain where the feathers of a female chicken grow longer and faster was developed. Using this method, one only has to quickly examine the amount and length of the chick’s covert feathers (the feathers that cover the bird’s wings) to determine its sex.
For the former, here’s where it’s all about a strong stomach: In order to sex a chicken accurately using the venting method, workers need to hone an ability to determine sex via the chick’s rear end. This entails actually squeezing any feces out of the chick, which opens the anus of the chicken wide enough for the sexer to determine if an eminence (genital organ which deciphers between male and female chickens; males have them and females typically do not) is present. More often than not, sexers insert their finger into the chick’s anus to more quickly identify if there is an eminence present or not.
If the chick is determined to be a male, it’s tossed in one bin while the females go into another. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the male chicks are allowed to live on to become meat for consumers as the cost to raise all of them is prohibitive given tight farming budgets. The females are then split up and sold off to various commercial and private buyers.
With most sexers boasting stats that include sexing upwards of 8,000 chicks/day and at 99.7% accuracy, it’s clear there is a high degree of skill involved with the chick sexing profession. Concentration and a zen-like attitude are what power most sexers through their day. If you think you have what it takes and are interested in becoming a chick sexer, a trip to Asia might be in your future. Considering the recent advancements in farm equipment, this might be on the last remaining “old school” ways to make money on a farm.
Good luck, Penny Hoarders!