While sex links may sound like a new thing, it has been a chicken keeper practice for many years. In fact, the black sex link chicken breed is among the oldest used by poultry producers. Also known as black stars or rock reds, black sex link chickens make for excellent egg-layers and friendly companions around the farm and backyard.
Planned on adding some black sex link chickens to your flock? Here is everything you need to know about black sex link chickens.
What is a Sex Link?
A sex link means that when the chicks hatch, you can automatically tell their sex by their colors. Most sex links are created by crossing two breeds that have the coloring desired. Though most sex link chickens are breed for their egg-laying capabilities, there are many also used for poultry production. Interestingly, if you switch the sexes, such as mixing a non-barred hen with a barred rooster, the sex link doesn’t work.
Common sex link chicken breeds include:
- Black sex link (also known as Black Star)
- Golden comet
- Red sex link
- Cinnamon Queen
What are Black Sex Link Chickens?
The black sex link is also know as the black star or rock red chicken and is a hybrid that comes from mixing a purebred barred hen with a purebred non-barred rooster. From birth, black sex link chickens can be recognized by their coloring. Males have a white spot on their heads while the females are all black.
Black Sex Link Chicken Breed Overview
Here is a snapshot of the breed:
|Eggs, Meat, and Companionship
|Between 6-9 pounds
|300/year (will lay eggs throughout the winter)
|Can handle any climate and tolerates cold
|Energetic, skittish, inquisitive, friendly
Here is a video that analyzes the breed:
Why Breed Black Sex Link Chickens?
One of the main reasons someone would want black sex link chickens is to immediately sex and separate the chicks. Many farms that are working to produce eggs don’t need many roosters (if any). Once the female black sex link chickens reach their egg-laying age, they are some of the best producers around. In fact, when a black sex link hen is well taken care of and comfortable, she can produce around 300 eggs a year.
Additionally, black sex link chickens are relatively large in size. As these chickens age and lose their egg producing abilities, they can be used for their delicious meat.
History of Black Sex Link Chickens
During the 1950s, when the soldiers came home, there was an explosion in the American population. Due to the increased population, there was a food shortage. In order to fulfill the nutritional needs of a rapidly growing population, the black sex link chicken was cultured and breed to succession.
These chickens assisted in providing eggs for the hungry masses, as well as quality chicken meat. It did take a while for scientists to figure out the best way to produce these marvelous birds, but now it can be done easily.
Since black sex link chickens were introduced, they have become a favorite throughout the United States and beyond. You can find black sex link chickens on many farms throughout the country. Some of them are used for their eggs or companionship, while others are bred solely for their meat.
Because these chickens are hybrids, they are not recognized by the American Poultry Association. Unless you want to raise purebred birds and show them off, that may not affect you and your decision.
Characteristics of Black Sex Link Chickens
Now that you know the origin story of black star chickens, it’s time to learn what makes this breed special.
While black sex link chickens may not be as stunning as some breeds, they are generally good looking birds. Females average around 6 pounds, and males are between 8-9 pounds. Appropriately named, black sex link chickens are predominantly black. However, you can tell a black star chicken apart from other breeds by the rust-colored flecks or spots on their chests. These markings differ between black sex link chickens and sometimes have iridescence.
Black sex link chickens also have black-colored legs but lighter, almost yellow, skin. Their red wattles and combs are not too large. After hatching, the male black star has a white spot on his head. Overtime, the males have patchy red and black feathers that are dashing.
Since these chickens are the hybrid between two breeds, they tend to have characteristics of both. Some will have a body structure that mimics the father while others are more like the mother. This is usually random and quite varied.
Personality and Temperament
Chicken keepers will happily tell you about their black sex link chickens. These chickens are easy-going and hardy. You don’t have to worry about them becoming territorial or problematic, as they are quite friendly and seek out pets. Overall, black star chickens have been described as low maintenance, quiet, social, friendly, and docile. They will follow you around the yard and interact, which makes them great pets for children.
Live in an urban area? These are great chickens for when neighbors are close by, because they don’t make a lot of noise.
Black sex link chickens also forage with ease. They are relaxed in an open environment but also have decent instincts. You won’t see them getting attacked by predators too often. They adapt well to temperature changes, too. You won’t even have to worry about their egg production slipping to zero during the coldest months.
These are lovely chickens to add to your flock, especially if you’re looking to have the easiest time caring for them while reaping massive benefits. The only downside to their personality is some pigheadedness. When you want these chickens to go into the coop at night, they may need some wrangling.
Black Sex Link Chicken Egg Production, Size, and Color
Black sex link chickens are known for their egg-laying abilities, and they start around 22-24 weeks old. In terms of egg production, they are some of the best you can have. When all their needs are met and the environment is ideal, black sex ink chickens can lay up to 250-300 eggs a year until they are 2-3 years old. Afterwards, their egg production slows down.
Not only that, but their eggs are medium to extra-large in size. The color ranges from light to medium brown. Again, it depends largely on the environmental factors involved.
One bonus is that this breed isn’t very broody. You don’t have to worry about fighting off a mommy hen to get to her eggs. Often, this breed will lay their eggs and leave them unattended, making them a breeze to gather up.
But if you want enough eggs to feed your friends and family, all you need is two happy black sex link chickens.
How to Care For Your Black Sex Link Chickens
Since black star chickens are not too difficult to care for, there are dozens of ways to safely house and care for them. First, you need to consider their coop and nesting boxes. Make sure you have a place for the coop that is quiet and out of the way. Ensure that the chicken run is large enough for these chickens to stretch their legs, as they love wandering the backyard. While they are adaptable, some black sex link chickens handle confinement better than their friends.
If there are predators in the area, it is best to enclose an area for your chickens. Also give them shelter from precipitation. Your black sex link hens will be far more productive when they have protection from the elements.
Being that black sex link chickens are egg-laying machines, you need to consider their diet. When a hen is busy laying eggs, she’s going to need all the nutrition she can get. Make sure that your chicken feed is high quality and supplement with various fruits and vegetables. For instance, you might throw your chickens some tomato, carrots, or apple.
It is recommended that you select chicken feed with about 2,830 calories per 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of feed. The feed should also have enough protein to assist with egg production. If you feel that protein is lacking, add some in. Egg health can also be enhanced with chicken grit.
Also, select treats that have plenty of calcium, iron, copper, and phosphorus. Your black sex link chickens will thank you with even more eggs.
Health Issues of Black Star Chickens
Although these chickens are extremely robust and have no known breed-specific conditions, they are susceptible to some problems. Keep your flock on a regular vaccination schedule. That alone can prevent some of the worst health issues, including fowl cholera, worms, New Castle disease, and so on. Keep in mind that avian diseases do spread rapidly, so if one of your chickens comes down ill, consider keeping them separate from the rest of the flock and get them to the vet.
Another thing to be conscious of is egg yolk peritonitis, egg binding, and cancer. Female black sex link chickens are at a risk for these, just like most female chickens. These issues generally arise after the first year of life. If you notice that your chickens are unwell, be sure to send them to the vet.
That said, the lifespan of a healthy black sex link chicken is around 8-10 years old. Around 2-3 years old, their egg-laying slows. Around 5-6 years old, their egg production may cease.
Finally, you can watch a visual video with chicks of this breed and see the difference between males and females:
Final Thoughts on Black Sex Link Chickens
Black sex link chickens are an excellent breed if you want eggs and meat. Their reliable egg production throughout the year means that you will never be hungry. The better you treat your black sex link chickens, the more eggs you will receive. In short, if you are looking for a low maintenance bird that produces a lot of eggs, consider bringing some black sex link hens home!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.