A chicken sexer is someone who distinguishes the sex of chickens and other hatchlings. Large commercial hatcheries will usually hire a chicken sexer. They have two types of feeding programs, therefore the need to distinguish between male and female chicks. One is for the hens (or females) that will lay eggs, and the other is for cocks (or males) that may or may not be kept for meat. As soon as the hens are sorted, they will be given proper nourishment in order for them to be able to produce commercial grade eggs. Also, in order to produce the poultry that is sold for the table, separate male and female lines for breeding need to be maintained, therefore the services of a chicken sexer are needed.
What does a Chicken Sexer do?
Chicken sexers have a role in mass poultry production. Everyday, thousands of chickens are born and producers need to know the sex of those chicks so they know what role they will have in the industry. Females provide the industry’s eggs and the males provide the majority of poultry meat.
There are two primary techniques for identifying chicks. Feather sexing is a technique that can only be done on boiler chickens. These chicks have a genetic change that makes the feathers on females grow faster; chicken sexers check to see which chicks are male and female based on the length of their wing feathers. The second, more reliable technique called vent sexing was invented in Japan in the 1930's. This method involves holding the chick in a very specific way and gently squeezing the poop out of the chick so the sexer can see the intestines. From this view, the chicken's reproductive organs can be seen, which identify the sex. This method must be done very carefully and gently to avoid hurting the chicks. On large factory farms, the chicks are separated onto different conveyor belts.
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The job of a chicken sexer requires hours of standing and concentration. One sexer may see thousands of chicks, doing the same repetitive task. In Japan, chicken sexing is also a type of competition, the world record being 1,682 chicks per hour without mistakes. This job is most compatible for people who enjoy following instruction and using their hands.