About Our Sex-Linked Ducks
Sex-linked ducks are a type bred so that it's possible to determine the gender of ducklings at the time of hatch based on the color of their down. Or as the science-types say it, "Sex linkage is the phenotypic expression of an allele that is dependent on the gender of the individual and is directly tied to the sex chromosomes."
As of 1930 it was believed to be impossible to establish the gender of ducklings based on feather color alone - as R. C. Punnett noted in the journal Nature (#126, 15 November 1930). However, because it is of considerable importance to farmers, a mere 2-years later he discovered a way to deliver sex-linked ducklings in the F1 offspring from some breedings.
After extensive research and testing, this year we're offering two breeds of sex-linked ducklings: Indian Runners and our own creation, aptly named "Tuxedo Dux". In both breedings, male offspring will express with black colored down and females will be either lilac or chocolate (they do not retain this sex-linked characteristic in future generations).
Our Tuxedo Dux are very attractive and distinctive with their solid plumage and white bib that creates a striking tuxedo pattern. They're relatively calm, great foragers, and produce a quality roasting duck. Drakes will weigh, on average, 7 pounds with hens 6 pounds, and will lay mostly white eggs with an occasional blue or gray tinted egg.
Our sex-linked Indian Runners will be solid colors of lilac or chocolate girls and black drakes (these black runners are seperate from our pure black runners as the sex-linked boys will carry different genetic color patterns).
We'll be experimenting this year to create lilac Runner girls who have the "Runner Pattern". The "Runner Pattern" as described by Dave Holderread: "Ideally, the white areas include the upper two-thirds of the neck, the throat, a finger that extends from the back of the head to and partially encircles the eye, a line that divides the bill from the cheek patches, a belt across the underbody and the outer two-thirds to three-quarters of the wings." It's the same white pattern you see on his Penciled Runners.
If our 'Lilac with Runner Pattern' turn out to be as pretty as we expect, they'll be offered next year... so cross your fingers!
This year we're working to remove the white eye stripe, remove or lessen the white around the bill, and tighten up the white tuxedo bib since last year they all looked like Fabio! New pictures when we have a new batch of ducklings.
Determining duckling gender without vent-sexing:
(Big thanks to Wifzilla at BYC) We don't employ vent sexing here at the farm for several reasons
Voice Sexing: The quack noise usually associated with ducks ONLY comes from the females. Males make a very monotone, deep, raspy peep noise even though both males and females start out sounding the same. As the duck matures, the voice changes.
Females can start quacking as soon as 2 weeks after hatching, but it is more likely going to take 4-6 weeks before you hear the females make a quack noise. As it was rather humorously described by another BYC member, the female quack can also sound more like the cross between "a cough and a fart" instead of an outright quack. The key is tonal range and volume. Girls will make a wide variety of noises and will get louder with time; if the duck peeps happily along and then makes a weird loud noise, it is usually a girl.
Boys voices will change from typical duckling peeping noises to a more monotone peeping. Eventually, usually by 8 weeks, they will be very monotone and much quieter than females only making a raspy noise. In the case of muscovy ducks, males will huff-huff.
Go to this site to hear sound files of the different noises made by male and female ducks.
In this short video, the grunting "whoopie cushion" noises are coming from the young female khaki campbell mix duck (rich brown colored). The peeping is from the younger male rouen.
Plumage Sexing: Many ducks have different feathering on males and females. Mallards are a prime example with males having shiny green heads, a white neck ring, brown chest, etc... while the females are a more uniform dull brown. This is fine for telling adults apart, but not very helpful for ducklings. Many ducklings go through a developmental phase where they all look like females. It isn't until they are 3 months or more that you will begin to see signs of adult feathering.
One sure sign is the "drake feather". On male ducks, one or two of their tail feathers will curl up while the feathers on a female's tail will remain flat. The drake feather may not appear for 2-3 months. If the duck is molting, it is also possible to not see a drake feather until new feathers grow in.