Heard of black sex link chickens, but aren’t sure what they’re like? We’ll tell you everything there is to know about this type of chicken!
Pure breed chickens have long been the way to add consistency to a home flock of chickens. Pure breeds have some amazing benefits — you can scratch the competition itch by entering them in shows, you are guaranteed registration with the American Poultry Association, and the genetic quirks from long generations are guaranteed to appear in their chicks, leading to generations of consistency within the particular breeds.
Yet for all the perks that come from genetic purity, there are just as many strong cases of bucking the trend and breeding hybrid chickens. Hybrid chickens are not breeds of chickens, but rather mixes that produce very specifically desired chicken results.
One of the most popular of these types of hybrid is the Black Sex Link Chicken.
What Are Black Sex Link Chickens?
Black sex link chickens are a hybrid mix that results by crossing a pure-bred barred hen and a pure-bred non-barred rooster. For example, crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island Red rooster will result in sex-linked chicks. When these parents mate, the pullets do not receive a barring gene because the barring gene is only on the male chromosome.
Because of this, the sex of their chicks is immediately recognizable through their color. From birth, Black Sex Link pullets are all black, and the males are identifiable by a white spot on their heads. The link here is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to know the ins and outs of the genetics behind sex link chickens.
What Are Sex Link Hybrids?
In a nutshell (or an eggshell, as the case may be), a sex link hybrid is NOT an official breed of chicken. They retain many of the more positive qualities of their parent chickens’ breeds but are specifically bred for the uniqueness of their coloring.
Perhaps the most common and popular example of a sex link hybrid is also the most prominent example of the Black Sex Link. If you cross two popular American chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female – you will get sex linked chicks. The gender of the resultant chicks will be immediately recognizable upon hatching.
Why Breed Black Sex Link Hybrids?
In the above example (the Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female), the goal is to produce females that can be immediately separated from the males. Then, once these females come of age, they will be some of the best egg-layers around. With good care, they have been known to produce 300 eggs per year.
An added bonus of this particular pairing of chicken is the size. The Black Sex Link results of this pairing are large enough to serve as meat chickens. Once your Black Sex Link hens have exhausted their eggs, they will make a sizable addition to your dining needs.
Breed Description FAQ
What Do Black Sex Link Chickens Look Like?
Black Sex Link pullets are instantly recognizable when they hatch by their pure black down. You can easily recognize male chicks because they have a distinguishable white dot on their heads.
At maturity, Black Sex Link hens are usually black with gold hackle and breast feathers. Roosters, on the other hand, have banding across their bodies. Both males and females have red combs and wattles.
How large are they?
On average, the hens weigh 6-7 pounds. Cockerels weigh around 8-9 pounds. Some hatcheries advertise their black sex link chickens a little lighter, with the hens being only a touch over five pounds and the roosters being about 6 pounds.
Are they friendly?
Black Sex Link Chickens are sometimes described as skittish, curious, energetic, and friendly. Many of their owners love them, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
Some Black Sex Link Chickens have been known to be noisy or aggressive to other breeds. This is especially true with the roosters. Some of this could be explained away as an alpha-bird attitude in that they occasionally enjoy being at the top of the pecking order.
You might wonder if the hens are broody (chickens are usually a little more aggressive when they brood). We’re happy to share that black sex link hens are not known for their broodiness.
How long do black sex link chickens live?
They live as long as any normal chicken. Rhode Island Reds – one of the parent breeds – are generally known to live into their eighth year.
If you’re worried about them surviving the winter, don’t fret, the two parents of the average Black Sex Link Chicken are the Rhode Island Red and the Barred Plymouth Rock. Considering that both of these breeds are very cold hardy, Black Sex Link Chickens breed true in this regard; they are very cold hardy and are ideal for colder environments.
Are Sex Link Chickens An Accepted Breed By The American Poultry Association?
No, they are not and never will be. One important requirement for chickens to be accepted breeds is that they have to actually be breeds. A breed is a type of chicken that, as defined in the American Poultry Association’s list of breeds, breeds true. A standard is a definition of a breed that each subsequent generation of the breed can be compared to.
The APA doesn’t want to disqualify breeds and offer a means of applying for the entry of new breeds of chicken into the registry but each applicant must have a standard. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are hybrids, they will not breed true. This means that the resultant offspring will not conform to any standard, and they might display a number of deviations from either parent.
Do Black Sex Link Chickens Breed True?
For a chicken to breed true, there must be some genetic consistency within the breed. With Black Sex Link Chickens, the father cockerels share two color genes that might match inconsistently with the single-color gene of the mother hens. The inconsistency of the result could produce variations like heavy banding, or alternative coloring.
Because of the roulette matching of genes, Black Sex Link Chickens cannot breed true. As a result, most Black Sex Link Chickens are not bred past the first generation.
How Often Do Black Sex Link Chickens Lay Eggs?
Black Sex Link Chicken hens thrive at egg production and can produce about 300 eggs in a single year with proper care and if they are in good health. They start laying at 18-20 weeks on average and are a brown egg layer.
This type of chicken usually maintains optimum egg development through about their fifth year, when they begin waning in egg production. Their eggs are brown.
What Kind of Health Issues Do Black Sex Link Chickens Have?
Black Sex Link Chickens suffer from the same health issues that most other chickens endure. As far as external threats, ticks, mites, lice, worms, and other parasites are all dangerous to them.
Black Sex Link Chickens are so important for egg production, you’ll want to minimize their potential danger. A great way to beat the bugs is by boosting your chickens’ immune systems with apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic. You can also try my favorite pest control products, all natural and chickens love them! Click here to check them out.
Are black sex link chickens and black star chickens the same?
Black Sex Link Chickens and Black Star Chickens are the same. A simple way to look at it is to think of “Black Star Chickens” as a specific designer name for the hybrid. There might be some minor differences between one and the other, but all Black Star chicks possess black as their primary color and can be sexed from hatching.
Top 5 Hatcheries To Buy Black Sex Link Chickens From
Black Sex Link Chickens (and other sex links such as Red Sex Link chickens) are quite a popular hybrid for their impressive egg production and good size for dining purposes. As a result, they are fairly easy to find in many hatcheries around the USA.
One word of advice, some search tools on hatchery sites are character sensitive. I’ve provided specific links below, but if you are searching yourself you might have to try different variations such as sexlinks and sex-link in order to have results on their website show up.
1. Cackle Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Cackle Hatchery
Cackle Hatchery, located in the great state of Missouri, is one of the most popular online chick retailers. You can find nearly 200 different types of chickens at all stages – fertile hatching eggs, baby chicks, pullets, etc. The company specializes in all kinds of egg-laying, meat-producing, and bantam breeds, as well as several rare breeds of chickens, too.
At Cackle, other kinds of poultry species can be found, too, including ducks, turkeys, geese, and more. You’ll have plenty to choose from when you’re filling your backyard coop and run!
They only have a minimum order of 3 birds…of course, you’ll pay less the more birds you get, so if you’re interested in raising a high-production flock of black sex links, Cackle might be the way to go.
- Discounts if you buy male chicks
- Vaccinations available
- Only need three birds to ship (just one for male birds)
- Limited availability
Find more information and prices here: Stromberg’s
Stromberg’s is another well-known chick hatchery and also sells chicken-raising supplies. You’ll find all kinds of gear at Stromberg’s, including coops, coop building supplies, wild birdhouses, feeders, waterers, and more.
They have a variety of chicken breeds when you shop with Stromberg’s, including New Hampshire Reds, Orpingtons, White Leghorns, and of course, black sex links! This company offers substantial discounts when you order large batches of birds – in fact, you’ll pay more than $2 less per bird when you order 100 or more chicks. There are similar (though smaller) discounts available for tinier batches, too.
Plus, if you time your order right, you can even get free shipping, helping to save you even more money. Just expect to buy at least five chicks at once when you order.
- Hatching eggs available
- One of the least expensive hatcheries to buy chicks from
- All kinds of chicken breeds available for sale
- Shipping dates are not estimated at the time of payment
3. Townline Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Townline Hatchery
Another well-known hatchery that specializes in black sex link chickens is Townline Hatchery. It’s actually one of the oldest hatcheries in the country, having been around for more than 100 years. This company is located in Michigan and is the longest-standing mail-order hatchery in the country.
You’ll get access to some pretty awesome customer service when you order from Townline Hatchery. You can call or email with questions at any time and you can also find out valuable information bout raising black sex link chicks by visiting the company’s website. The employees at Townline Hatchery are known to be some of the most attentive, too, as they care for new batches of baby chicks.
The only disadvantage to ordering from Townline is that you’ll have to buy in bulk. The hatchery has a minimum order of fifteen chicks, which can be a challenge if you live in a city that has restrictions on how many birds you can raise (most towns cap it at six hens). However, if you’re planning on shopping for a large flock anyway, Townline is the way to go – the hatchery offers a discount of several dollars per bird when you buy more than 100 chicks.
- Superior customer service
- Excellent reputation as one of the longest-standing hatcheries
- Great for buying chicks in large quantities
- Not many hatching dates available for fall, winter, or early spring shipping
4. Hoover’s Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Hoover’s Hatchery
Another established brand, if you’re looking for chicks, is Hoover’s Hatchery. Hoover’s supplies many farm and garden supply stores in the United States with their chicks, making them a smart choice if you want to skip the middleman and order from the hatchery directly.
Plus, Hoover’s offers free shipping on practically everything you order. You’ll have to buy at least 15 chicks, so again, Hoover’s might not be the best option if you live in a city with chicken restrictions. However, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk, it’s a smart choice. You can even mix and match your order by adding other chicken breeds along with poultry species like pheasants, turkeys, guineas, ducks, and more.
Another benefit of ordering from Hoover’s Hatchery is that it hatches chicks all throughout the year – a must-know feature if you plan on buying chicks around Christmastime.
- Excellent guarantee and refund policy in case of shipping problems
- Hatches chicks during the winter, one of the few hatcheries to do so
- Sells other kinds of poultry too
- Large minimum order
5. Valley Farms Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Valley Farms Hatchery
Valley Farms Hatchery is located in Alabama and is one of the few large commercial chick hatcheries located in the southern United States. If you live in the south, that’s one good reason to give Valley Farms a try – you won’t have to ship your new black sex links long distances, which can cut down dramatically on shipping stress.
You can buy fertile hatching eggs along with black sex link chicks from this hatchery. You’ll find some of the lowest prices, here, too, with a minimum order of just three chicks. If you buy males the order minimum is just one bird. Buying in bulk poses several advantages though, especially if you can buy more than 50 birds at once – you’ll get significant savings.
- Each order is backed by a 100% live delivery guarantee, no matter where you live
- One chick minimum order if you’re buying males
- Optional Marek’s vaccination
- Limited shipping dates
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.