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Chick Sexer Available--Your Worries Are Over


Michael Landrum
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In Susan Orlean's article in the most recent New Yorker on the trend, pleasures and concerns of raising laying chickens in a backyard coop, she writes, "More worrisome was the fact that unless you are a professional chicken-sexer (a critical job in the poultry industry) it is nearly impossible to tell the sex of a baby chick..."

In light of the likely interest of some members of this board in raising their own hens for fresher than farm-fresh eggs and the grave dangers of even one mis-sexed chicken in a group (trust me, gruesome would not even begin to describe the resulting carnage), I thought I should make known the fact that for a number of years I worked as a professional chick sexer--trained and highly-skilled in not only the standard alar method, but also the extremely difficult and highly specialized, but most accurate Japanese Anal Method--and will happily offer my chick sexing services to any and all in need.

The above is completely true and will happily provide details to prove so, and Don, you dast not delete this thread unless you can prove otherwise.

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I've often passed Mr. Landrum whilst walking about Arlington and never really known what to say that wasn't banal, like "hey, great steaks, man!" would just make me cringe afterwards. Now, though, I can step resolutely in front of him, say "Japanese Anal Method," raise my eyebrow, and walk away.

I had a friend who was riding in an elevator, which stopped on a floor. In walked Wilt Chamberlain.

(This is a true story, not a joke.)

He said, "Hey! You're Wilt Chamberlain!"

Wilt Chamberlain said, "No shit."

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Wilt Chamberlain said, "No shit."

Guess he didn't have an anus.

I suspect the answer to the original question about carnage is related to the reason they castrate male calves on ranches that raise cattle as food. Fully equipped bulls are very aggressive.

Then there are pecking orders. You want to determine the sex of your chicks so you don't put a whole bunch of roosters together, most likely.

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I had a friend who was riding in an elevator, which stopped on a floor. In walked Wilt Chamberlain.

(This is a true story, not a joke.)

He said, "Hey! You're Wilt Chamberlain!"

Wilt Chamberlain said, "No shit."

When I was at UCLA, Wilt used to come to play 3 on 3. Afterwards, he would sit in front of the student center recruiting for his other athletic activities. I used to pass him often. Sitting on his ass, back against a car, he was taller than I was.
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I suspect the answer to the original question about carnage is related to the reason young male calfs become heifers on ranches that raise cattle as food. Fully equipped bulls are very aggressive.

Oh, good lord. They don't "become heifers." There's some observable mounting behavior, but it's the bovine equivalent of locker room butt slapping, and that's certainly not limited to the males - the females do the same thing to establish pecking order. The average mature bull is really only aggressive toward other intact bulls. Unless there are females in season immediately nearby, they're as easy to manage as any other animal - show them food, and they'll follow you wherever you want them to go.
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Never was good with gender of French nouns either! Oops. But as for research...

Cutting their nuts off doesn't make them female, and they still display social mounting behavior - the only thing castration really gets rid of is the "fight it or screw it" impulse common to male teenagers of any species.
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Cutting their nuts off doesn't make them female, and they still display social mounting behavior - the only thing castration really gets rid of is the "fight it or screw it" impulse common to male teenagers of any species.

According to my grandparents, aunts and uncles who raise(d) cattle, castration changes the taste of the meat. Meat from steers is superior to that of bulls because testosterone adds an unpleasant taste. When I first heard this, I was probably in kindergarten, and it made perfect sense to me. I knew boys were stinky. :(

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According to my grandparents, aunts and uncles who raise(d) cattle, castration changes the taste of the meat. Meat from steers is superior to that of bulls because testosterone adds an unpleasant taste. When I first heard this, I was probably in kindergarten, and it made perfect sense to me. I knew boys were stinky. :P

At what's become normal slaughter age (15-18 months), yeah, there can be quite a pong; if you're slaughtering at 9-10 months, you probably are not going to notice a significant taste difference. It's all in what you're aiming for. Because my parents raise cattle for breeding stock, they don't castrate any of the calves, but the male calves that aren't good enough usually end up in their or my grandparents' freezer before the point where testosterone levels become an issue; the calves' voices are changing, and girls have started to look interesting, but the BO really hasn't kicked in yet. :(
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According to my grandparents, aunts and uncles who raise(d) cattle, castration changes the taste of the meat. Meat from steers is superior to that of bulls because testosterone adds an unpleasant taste. When I first heard this, I was probably in kindergarten, and it made perfect sense to me. I knew boys were stinky. :(

My pig guy says the same about pigs -- that an intact boar has a disticnt and nasty smell while cooking, though the taste is not as noticeable. Another good reason to know your farmer.

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Well now I have learned some things about Wilt and about cattle and pig testicles, but I am still in the dark about chicken carnage. Am I to understand that two roosters, if left to their own devices, will automatically fight to the death in a spectacularly bloody way? Or something worse than that? Did they do this (say) 200 years ago, or is this just a perverse byproduct of some sort of selective breeding by human chicken-farmers? And why do I want to know?

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. . . I am still in the dark about chicken carnage. Am I to understand that two roosters, if left to their own devices, will automatically fight to the death in a spectacularly bloody way? Or something worse than that? Did they do this (say) 200 years ago, or is this just a perverse byproduct of some sort of selective breeding by human chicken-farmers?

According to the Human Society, "While it is true that birds will fight over food, territory, or mates, such fights are generally only to establish dominance within a group (the pecking order) and seldom result in serious injury. This natural behavior is quite different from what happens in staged cockfights, where pairs of birds, bred for maximum aggressiveness (and sometimes given steroids or other drugs to make them more successful fighters) are forced to fight until a winner is declared."

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Well now I have learned some things about Wilt and about cattle and pig testicles, but I am still in the dark about chicken carnage. Am I to understand that two roosters, if left to their own devices, will automatically fight to the death in a spectacularly bloody way? Or something worse than that? Did they do this (say) 200 years ago, or is this just a perverse byproduct of some sort of selective breeding by human chicken-farmers? And why do I want to know?

The first strategic decision of raising chickens (mostly) for eggs ... sexed or unsexed? All female chicks is the most direct route, but also most expensive. The unsexed (or unsorted) will provide about equal numbers of female and male, at a lower cost.

The male birds will cause endless amusement, practicing their crowing, scuffling, play fighting, and occasionally pecking one of their number to death (oops!). When the cockerels have put on enough weight to make it worthwhile, they will be, umm, processed (most of them) for the stock pot or whatever.

Different breeds have different amounts of aggressiveness. At least in the old days,you wanted an aggressive rooster to protect the flock from mice, rats, fox, hawks, etc. If a farmer had a really mean rooster (particularly one that would attack anything including people) he might put it up against the neighbors bird, to see who was the badest sumbitch in the county. The cockfight was just a small amusement on the way to chicken soup.

Birds bred for fighting might have little knives attached to their feet (spurs) and be drugged to increase aggressiveness. A much more bloody spectacle.

The foodie, or Martha Stewart, project would be to raise capons (castrated male chickens) supposed much more tasty than ordinary chicken ... but it takes some skill to castrate a chicken, since the nuts are internal. But (supposedly) worth the effort!

As part of the long day of castrating pigs, we have the "oyster roast," so named to protect the delicate feelings of the persons of the male gender. Women seem to find such occasions a lot of fun.

If anyone thought the title of this thread referred to someone paid to have sex with chickens, that is so sick!

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Am I to understand that two roosters, if left to their own devices, will automatically fight to the death in a spectacularly bloody way? Or something worse than that?

Worse. Much worse. Suitable alternate ending to Apocalypse Now bad. And we're not talking about two roosters here, but hundreds. This is not a line of inquiry you want to pursue, Sheldman. I'm talking "Kiss all your loved ones and tell them that you love them out of sheer gratitude, and then forget you ever read this thread" bad.

(I should mention that what I have witnessed (v-ani, levadi...) occurs only when a mis-sexed female remains, undetected, in a closed flock of males until sexual maturity).

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Worse. Much worse. Suitable alternate ending to Apocalypse Now bad. And we're not talking about two roosters here, but hundreds. This is not a line of inquiry you want to pursue, Sheldman. I'm talking "Kiss all your loved ones and tell them that you love them out of sheer gratitude, and then forget you ever read this thread" bad.

I appreciate the warning and will back away calmly.

The only thing I know about chickens is what I learned years ago, when I was a brand new lawyer and was interviewing people who worked in a chicken factory in N. Alabama for a possible wage-and-hour suit. With my clipboard for taking notes, and earnest attitude, I asked one man what his job title was, and he said "I suppose that'd be 'butthole cutter.'" He told me what that entailed doing, about 30 times per minute for 8 hours per day. I said "That doesn't sound like a great job," and he said, "It's better than the job of the guy next to me on the line." Enough about chickens for me.

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Oh, you're a lawyer? Never mind, it's no big deal then...nothing really shocking for you I'm sure. They'll just claw and peck themselves to death savagely until only one is remaining and cannibalize the corpses.

Oh, crap. This is what I have to look forward to when the hub is out of law school?

I take the fighting roosters...

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I have a true story to add to all this.

My father was in the chick hatchery business, and specifically the business of selling baby chicks bred for egg production, not "broilers" which are the ones that are raised to be slaughtered for the chicken you buy in the store to eat. We also had some egg layers at home to generate extra income to put me and my siblings through college. We were the slave labor that kept it going; at our peak we had 16,000 birds, which at that time was a big operation, but today is laughably small.

I remember as a little boy visiting the hatchery, and watching the Japanese (Korean??) people who made their living as chick sexers (I will now state unequivocally that I never saw Michael Landrum sexing chicks, but this was certainly before he was born). They sat for hours, looking up the little butts of each chick through a magnifying glass. IIRC, the ones that didn't have a certain tiny little spot up there were the females, and they went into boxes to be shipped to customers. The males, uh, you don't want to know. In those days at least, there was no market for male chicks, of egg-laying breeds anyway. Suffice it to say their lives were short. Very short. Michael spoke of them being raised for meat, but I never saw that.

However, sometimes the sexers made a mistake and a member of the wrong sex made it through. Specifically a male sometimes got through among the females, and grew up with them, and became the only rooster in a henhouse full of, well, hens. This is where my story comes in. Earlier in the thread there was talk about a single hen among roosters, and how bad that could be. One might think that the opposite, one rooster among several thousand hens would be paradise, for a male at least. But alas it is not so. I recall vividly such a situation, where one got through among a group we had in our egg operation at home. The poor thing was constantly set upon by (let's be honest) horny hens, who constantly chased him around the henhouse, tried to preen his feathers, etc. etc. He could never be alone. He was constantly, literally on the run, just trying to get away from those hens, but there were always more, and never anyplace to go. It was truly a pathetic sight. I don't recall what finally happened to the poor thing, but I'm sure it wasn't pretty.

Truly a case, if there ever was one, of too much of a good thing.

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Well now I have learned some things about Wilt and about cattle and pig testicles, but I am still in the dark about chicken carnage. Am I to understand that two roosters, if left to their own devices, will automatically fight to the death in a spectacularly bloody way? Or something worse than that? Did they do this (say) 200 years ago, or is this just a perverse byproduct of some sort of selective breeding by human chicken-farmers? And why do I want to know?

Not neccessarily to to the death, but to the point of serious injury. And if you've got a rooster and just a couple of hens, well, there can be problems with hens that get a little tired of being constantly poked with that damn thing...

Yah, I keep chickens. Hens only - no need for a rooster except for breeding, and I can buy from an established breeder and avoid the hassles of keeping an already stupid animal that has had its brain rotted by an overabundance of testosterone.

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I have a true story to add to all this.

My father was in the chick hatchery business, and specifically the business of selling baby chicks bred for egg production, not "broilers" which are the ones that are raised to be slaughtered for the chicken you buy in the store to eat. We also had some egg layers at home to generate extra income to put me and my siblings through college. We were the slave labor that kept it going; at our peak we had 16,000 birds, which at that time was a big operation, but today is laughably small.

I remember as a little boy visiting the hatchery, and watching the Japanese (Korean??) people who made their living as chick sexers (I will now state unequivocally that I never saw Michael Landrum sexing chicks, but this was certainly before he was born). They sat for hours, looking up the little butts of each chick through a magnifying glass. IIRC, the ones that didn't have a certain tiny little spot up there were the females, and they went into boxes to be shipped to customers. The males, uh, you don't want to know. In those days at least, there was no market for male chicks, of egg-laying breeds anyway. Suffice it to say their lives were short. Very short. Michael spoke of them being raised for meat, but I never saw that.

However, sometimes the sexers made a mistake and a member of the wrong sex made it through. Specifically a male sometimes got through among the females, and grew up with them, and became the only rooster in a henhouse full of, well, hens. This is where my story comes in. Earlier in the thread there was talk about a single hen among roosters, and how bad that could be. One might think that the opposite, one rooster among several thousand hens would be paradise, for a male at least. But alas it is not so. I recall vividly such a situation, where one got through among a group we had in our egg operation at home. The poor thing was constantly set upon by (let's be honest) horny hens, who constantly chased him around the henhouse, tried to preen his feathers, etc. etc. He could never be alone. He was constantly, literally on the run, just trying to get away from those hens, but there were always more, and never anyplace to go. It was truly a pathetic sight. I don't recall what finally happened to the poor thing, but I'm sure it wasn't pretty.

Truly a case, if there ever was one, of too much of a good thing.

It's just so heart-warming, the bonding that occurs and the memories evoked by the Japanese Anal Method of sexing chicks, isn't it?

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