By Gideon Scheepers
There are many methods involved here; once again they are not fool proof. Some methods involve comparing the head and beak sizes, by colouration, by looking at the way they sit on the perch, males tend to sit more upright and hens lower. These methods are best left to the veterans with many years experience.
This method involves the physical palpitation of the vent area of the bird, usually done for lovebirds and doves etc. This method involves feeling the vent, "pelvic structure" in a mature bird. If you place your finger on the opening of the pelvic bones, just behind the vent, and your finger rests on top of it, it may be a male. If a finger passes between the bones (the bones on either side of the finger), it is likely to be a female. This is based on the principle that an egg must also pass through the opening. This is not a reliable method, but can act as a guide.
Surgical sexing is an invasive method, which involves using anaesthetics, usually gas and making an incision into the abdomen of the bird and looking at the sex organs with an endoscope or laparascope. With the advent of safer aesthetics, such as the isoflurane, better sterilization techniques, and smaller instruments, surgical sexing is now a relatively safe.
The greatest advantage to surgicalsexing is that it can detect some physical defects in the organs as well as the condition and maturity of the sex organs; another advantage is that there is a permanent tattoo placed under the wing of the bird.
Some disadvantages to surgical sexing is that it is a lot of stress for the bird as well as the keeper, the bird is usually sexed in the veterinarian's offices, where people bring their sick birds, therefore there is always a chance of disease transfer.
Genetic or DNA sexing uses the principal that male and female birds have different genes or chromosomes. Male birds have two Z chromosomes, and are designated ZZ (also commonly referred to XX); females have one Z chromosome and one W chromosome, designated ZW (also commonly referred to XY). Red blood cells are used (birds have DNA in the nucleus, while the red blood cells of mammals do not hove a nucleus), so any bird large enough to provide a blood sample can theoretically be tested. Several methods have been developed to genetically determine the sex of a bird, based on detecting the differences in the DNA of the Z and W chromosomes. Of the techniques, which have been developed, the most accurate makes use of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), to amplify sequences of DNA, which differ in size on the W and Z chromosomes. Males and Females generate a different set of PCR products, allowing for the determination of a bird as either male or female. Advantages of DNA sexing is that there is no chance of disease transfer, as it can be performed in your aviary, there is less stress on the bird, the birds does not have to leave its environment, can be sexed at anytime, more than one test can be performed, e.g. PBFD and baby birds can be sexed in the nest. Disadvantages are that there is no permanent mark placed on the bird, paperwork can get lost over time, if you are squeamish or unfamiliar with the methods it can be a daunting task. Your test results are not immediate, and mix-ups can occur in the labs.
1. Bird is gassed or drugged, depending on the vet you use.
1. Condition of bird's reproductive organs is assessed.
1. If you are not familiar/comfortable drawing blood it is a daunting
1. There is less stress on birds.
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