The Dangers of a Straight Run

Reader Contribution by Jack Fernard

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

Just before Easter, my family and I brought a box of baby chicks home to raise. We were full of excitement, anticipating raising these little birds to maturity and hopefully seeing them raise baby chicks of their own.

Right around five weeks or so, I began to notice the differences in the birds and enjoyed pointing them out to the family. Some had lighter coloring, some were much bigger and one had a very pronounced comb. Having bought these chicks “straight run” — or for those who are not familiar with this chicken terminology, not sexed — I was really hopeful for at least one rooster. And upon seeing the comb, and how it was different from all of the rest, I assumed the best. I just knew it would be a matter of time and there would be a new generation baby chicks running around the yard.

I was wrong.

At right around ten weeks, the birds started fighting…and I mean REALLY fighting. I began to wonder if they weren’t trying to kill each other. As it turns out, they were!

After consulting with other chicken owners, I realized that what I had was one rooster of mixed heritage and seven thoroughbred males. So much for the baby chicks!

It’s actually kind of unbelievable to think that I could reach into a bin of 100+ birds and pick out all males, but that’s exactly what I did. (One more reason you’ll never see me at a casino!)

Lesson learned: If you want hens, then make sure you’re buying hens!

  • Published on Jul 26, 2016
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