What Are Red Sex Link Chickens? – A Comprehensive Guide

Red Sex Link chicken walking on the grass

The Red Sex Link chicken is a popular fowl among backyard enthusiasts and farmers. This makes sense, as these birds have several features that make them stand out from other types of poultry.

To begin with, they are sex-linked for easy identification. This means you can tell male from female chicks by the shade of their feathers at birth. Yet, note that there’s more to them than just that.

In this article, we’ll look at what makes Red Sex Link chickens so special. We’ll also discuss how to care for them properly, what their ideal living conditions should be like, and many more. Let’s start!

Red Sex Link Chicken Quick Facts

Purpose:Egg farming
Egg Production:200–280 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Egg Size:Large
Adult Weight:Roosters: 8–9 lbs (3.6–4.1 kg);
Hens: 4–7 lbs (1.8–3.2 kg)
Temperament:Quiet, easy to tame, friendly
Climate Tolerance:Cold and heat hardy
Lifespan:2–3 years
Special Features:Early maturity, sex-linked, mixed heritage
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Are Red Sex Link Chickens?

A group of Red Sex Link chicken outdoors

The Red Sex Link chicken, more commonly known as the Red Star, is a hybrid created by crossing a Rhode Island Red rooster with a Delaware hen. These birds are celebrated for prolific egg production. Easy to tame, they make for ideal poultry pets while also being well-suited to commercial farms.

True to their name, Red Sex Link chickens offer a notable trait: their gender is identified immediately after hatching. This sex-linked feature simplifies breeding efforts, as you can identify males and females from the get-go.

Watch the video below to see how female Red Sex Link chicks differ from males in color:

Red Star - Murray McMurray Hatchery

Yet, as hybrids, it should be noted that these birds don’t maintain consistent offspring attributes. Regardless, their admirable productivity and resilience more than compensate for this aspect.

In fact, Red Stars are one of the most sought-after sex link chicken breeds available today.

Red Sex Link Chicken Appearance

Red Sex Link chicken resting on the grass

Although Red Sex Link chickens do not adhere to a specific breed standard, and they lack recognition from the American Poultry Association (APA), they exhibit consistent physical traits.

Generally speaking, the majority of these birds possess a medium-sized body frame, and they feature upright tails, legs with a yellow hue, blunt beaks, and single combs.

At the time of hatching, however, one can observe significant color differences between male and female chicks.

To be specific, day-old male Red Sex Link chicks typically present an off-white or yellowish coloring. Meanwhile, females are characterized by a salmon-red shade.

Then, upon reaching maturity, the hens transition into a buff or red hue. In contrast, the roosters either become completely white or yellow.

Red Sex Link Chicken Size and Weight

The Red Sex Link chicken is typically medium-sized, with a robust and well-proportioned physique.

In terms of weight, Red Sex Link roosters commonly weigh between 8 and 9 pounds. Hens, on the other hand, have a lighter build, with their weight ranging from 4 to 7 pounds.

Red Sex Link Chicken Temperament and Behavior

Red Sex Link chicken side profile

Red Sex Link chickens are renowned for their docile nature, which makes them a perfect choice for beginners in poultry keeping. In addition to this, they are easy to tame, and they generally get along well with children.

When it comes to socializing with their kind, Red Sex Link chickens tend to be relatively quiet, though they still partake in typical chicken vocalizations.

Further, while the roosters often display a degree of territorial behavior, they do not resort to bullying, which ensures a safe and stress-free environment for all members of the flock.

A friend who has raised Red Star chickens for years always highlights their easygoing nature. He appreciates how they maintain a serene coop atmosphere.

These chickens, according to him, display consistent temperament, rarely showing signs of aggression or restlessness.

Egg Production and Broodiness of Red Sex Link Chickens

According to many chicken enthusiasts, the Red Sex Link chicken is a prolific layer. These fowls can produce between 200 and 280 large brown eggs annually.

Notably, their broodiness level remains low, meaning they rarely show interest in hatching their eggs, which helps maintain their impressive laying rate.

However, it’s essential to understand that their egg output tends to decrease as these chickens mature. This emphasizes the need for timely replacements in farms focusing on egg yield.

Red Sex Link Chicken Lifespan and Health Issues

Red Sex Link chicken inside nesting box

The Red Sex Link chicken tends to have a short lifespan. These birds usually live around 2 to 3 years. This brief life expectancy is further reduced by the fact that they have a high risk of developing the following health issues:

  • Fowl Cholera: Fowl cholera often presents as sudden death in affected Red Sex Link chickens. Early warning signs may include swelling of the wattles and neck, fever, or green watery poop.
  • Egg Yolk Peritonitis: Often affecting Red Sex Link chickens, egg yolk peritonitis occurs when the egg yolk is deposited in the abdominal cavity instead of the oviduct. Symptoms of this condition include waddling gait, loss of appetite, and abdominal swelling.
  • Vent Prolapse: Usually seen after laying an egg, vent prolapse happens when a Red Sex Link hen’s internal reproductive tract protrudes outside the body. This can lead to complications if not addressed promptly.

In order to safeguard the health of these chickens, it’s crucial to emphasize regular vet checks and timely vaccinations. Moreover, maintaining a clean coop environment can substantially reduce the risk of diseases.

Red Sex Link Chicken Care Guide

Caring for a Red Sex Link chicken requires understanding its unique needs. The following information is designed to help you meet those requirements and provide your fowls with the best care possible.

Feeding and Nutrition

Red Sex Link chickens require a high-protein, calorie-rich diet to sustain their impressive egg production rates. Providing a high-quality chicken feed, comprising roughly 2,830 calories per kilogram, fulfills this need.

For laying hens, it’s imperative to supplement their diet with additional calcium, recommended at a daily intake of between 2 and 5 grams. This can be effectively supplied in the form of crushed oyster shells.

When considering treats, fresh fruits and vegetables are beneficial extras to their meals. Yet, it’s also crucial to consistently provide them access to clean water daily.

Housing and Shelter

For optimal living conditions, each Red Sex Link chicken requires at least four square feet of coop space to roam and rest comfortably. They should also be given eight inches of roosting space to perch securely at night.

For the females, it’s vital to provide nesting boxes. Every group of four Red Sex Link hens should be equipped with a 12x12x18-inch nesting box to lay their eggs.

Additionally, a chicken run should offer at least eight square feet of space per fowl. The goal is for them to get fresh air, exercise opportunities, and the chance to exhibit natural behaviors with plenty of room for movement.

To further enhance their living environment, consider incorporating enrichment items such as dust baths, jungle gyms, perches, and chicken treat piñatas.

These additions not only keep them entertained but also contribute to their physical and mental health, which in turn promotes a productive flock.

Temperature and Lighting

Red Sex Link chickens demonstrate resilience in diverse climate conditions. However, this hardiness doesn’t extend to their chicks, which require specific temperature considerations in their early stages of growth.

Initially, the ambient temperature should range from 93°F to 95°F, and it’s vital to decrease it by 4°F to 5°F each week until they are well-acclimatized.

By the time the chicks reach six weeks, they should be comfortable in a stable environment of 65°F. At this point, their adaptability to varied climates begins to resemble that of adult Red Sex Link chickens.

Meanwhile, for optimal egg production, ensuring adequate lighting is crucial. Generally, chickens are most productive when they receive around 14 to 16 hours of light daily.

So, to substitute natural daylight, a 40-watt bulb equipped with a timer, positioned roughly seven feet above the ground, will suffice for a small coop of around 100 square feet.

How Much Does a Red Sex Link Chicken Cost?

Red Sex Link chickens in a farm

The price of a Red Sex Link chicken differs based on demand, age, quality, and location. For chicks, one can expect to pay between $3 and $5, depending on these factors.

On the flip side, when looking at pullets, the price rises significantly, ranging from $20 to $25.

In terms of where you can buy them, though Red Sex Link chickens might be scarce in standard local poultry farms due to their hybrid nature, they are often available at hatcheries.

 However, keep in mind that there are many scammers out there that sell sickly or deformed birds. Hence, just make sure you’re buying from a reputable one.

Pros and Cons of the Red Sex Link Chicken

If you are considering adding Red Sex Link chickens to your backyard coop, note that this breed presents a mix of advantages and challenges. First, below are a few of their pros:

  • High egg production: Red Sex Link chickens are excellent layers, often producing between 200 and 280 eggs yearly. This makes them a favorite choice for those looking to maximize egg production.
  • Can be sexed right after hatching: The distinct coloration differences between male and female Red Sex Link chicks allow for immediate sex identification.
  • Low broodiness level: Red Sex Link hens exhibit a low inclination towards broodiness, meaning they rarely sit on their eggs to hatch them. This trait ensures continuous production as hens remain more focused on laying eggs than nurturing them.

On the flip side, the following are the cons of owning Red Sex Link chickens:

  • Not recommended for breeding: As hybrids, Red Sex Link chickens aren’t the best choice for breeding purposes. Their offspring might not retain the parent’s desirable characteristics.
  • Relatively short life expectancy: Red Sex Link chickens are known to have a somewhat short lifespan. They live only about 2 to 3 years.
  • Not consistent egg layers: While Red Sex Link chickens have high annual egg production, their laying rate can be inconsistent and tends to decline as they age.

As always, understanding the needs and characteristics of a breed is paramount before deciding to add them to your flock.

What are your thoughts about Red Sex Link chickens? Do you have any tips on raising them? Share your opinions in the comments!

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