Chicken Sexer (aka Chick Sexer aka Poultry Sorters)
Chicken sexers have one of the more unique jobs out there. Most people have never even heard of this odd profession. Have you?
At big farms and large commercial chicken hatcheries, thousands of chickens are born every single day. A chicken sexer’s job is to separate the male and female chicks. It sounds like an odd task, but it’s a necessary one for the poultry industry.
Sorting chickens by gender is important because hens and roosters lead very different lives. Chicken farms need hens to lay eggs and roosters to grow quickly so they can be sold and ultimately consumed. This requires different nutritional demands and diets for hens and roosters. Depending on the farm, the roosters may be disposed of.
If the chickens aren’t sorted by gender, it will ultimately cut into the farm’s profits and then that cost would trickle down to you when you want to enjoy scrambled eggs for breakfast or grilled chicken for dinner. Without chicken sexers, chicken farms would be less productive, chickens wouldn’t get the right foods, and the costs of chicken and eggs would increase.
Now you might assume that sorting chickens by sex would be a very easy task, but it’s not. Male and female baby chicks look very similar. Chicken sexers need a bit of training, a keen eye, an intuitive sense, and a bit of luck to perform their job well.
There are two techniques for sorting chickens – feather sexing and vent sexing. With feather sexing, a chicken sexer can determine gender based on the shape and length of the chicken’s wings and feathers. The chickens must be specially bred to ensure that they look different.
Many farms use vent sexing to identify a chicken’s gender. This method requires the chicken sexer to inspect the chicken to identify the sex organs. The chicken sexer squeezes the feces out of the chicken so they can see if the day old chick has a bump or not. If there’s a bump, it’s a male. If not, it’s a female.
Vent sexing is not an exact science, but it seems to work. After years of training, a talented chicken sexer can easily sort 700 chickens per hour with 98% accuracy. The best chicken sexers can sort up to 1200 chicks per hour and well over a million chicks per year.
Chicken sexing is a repetitive job. Your days are spent standing or sitting in a hatchery sorting day old chicks. You are literally hands-on with birds all day long – putting males on one side and females on the other.
To become a chicken sexer, you need on-the-job training. Alternatively, you can attend chicken sexing schools, like the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School, where you can earn a certificate in chicken sexing. The key to finding a job with a chicken farm or commercial chicken hatchery is accuracy. Most successful chicken sexers are 95% accurate or better. If you’re really accurate you can even compete in chicken sexing competitions.
Most people wouldn’t consider chicken sexing to be a glamorous job, which is part of the reason why there is a high demand for chicken sexers. A talented chicken sexer can make up to $60,000 per year.
If you want to see what chicken sexing is really like, visit the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs website. There you can watch Mike Rowe explore the dirty job of chicken sexing. Is chicken sexing a career that you’d like to pursue?
Quick Facts About Chicken Sexers
Job Title: Chicken Sexer aka Chick Sexer aka Poultry Sorters
Office: Chicken Hatchery
Description: Sort Chickens By Gender
Certifications/Education: Training Required
Necessary Skills: Ability To Identify A Chicken’s Gender, Accuracy
Potential Employers: Hatcheries, Farms, Poultry Industry
Pay: $15,000 to 60,000 per year