Sex-links are cross-bred chickens whose color at hatching is differentiated by sex, thus making chick sexing an easier process. Sex-links come in several varieties. As hybrids of laying or dual-purpose breeds infused with extra vigor via heterosis, sex-links can be extremely good egg-layers which often produce 300 eggs a year or more depending on the quality of care and feed. The color of their eggs vary according to the mix of breeds, and blue-green eggs are possible.
Chicks of a single breed that are similarly sex-linked are called autosex chickens, a term developed to differentiate between sex-linkage in purebred chickens versus sex-linkage in hybrids.
Many common varieties are known as the black sex-link (also called Black Stars) and the red sex-link (also called Red Stars). More specific variety names are common as well.
- Black sex-link like "Black rocks" are a cross between unique specially bred hybrid strains of Rhode Island Red rooster (but any non-white and non barred rooster may be used for other black sex link crosses) and a Barred Rock hen (which carry both extended black and barring genes).
- Red sex-links are a cross between a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock (This variety pair is known as a Golden Comet), Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White or Delaware hen.
One example of a red linked breed is the Red Shaver. Europe has the Cream Legbar (an actual true-breeding pure breed; in Spain this variety is "soniquetera") and ISA Brown sex-links, which also are found in Canada.
White birds should not be used in sex linked crosses because white color allele is sometimes dominant and sometimes recessive.
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