Sex link chickens are the result of a first generation cross between two different chicken breeds. As hybrids they tend to be quite vigorous and hardy. Since they mature to be somewhat heavier than chicken breeds developed solely for their outstanding egg laying abilities, most sex links make decent meat birds as well as good layers, and are therefore considered to be dual-purpose chickens.
Black Sex Link
The Black Sex Link is the result of a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a barred Plymouth Rock hen. The hens lay big brown eggs. Their plumage is solid black with a few random red feathers. The roosters are barred and may also have some red feathers. Being less visible to predators than lighter colored breeds, Black Sex Links are popular as free range chickens. You can expect Black Sex Link hens to mature to 6 or 7 pounds and lay somewhere between 200 and 280 eggs per year. Roosters grow to a hefty 8 or 9 pounds.
Red Sex Link
The Red Sex Link results from a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Delaware hen, producing an outstanding dual-purpose chicken. The hens lay large brown eggs. With their reddish brown plumage set off by a few white feathers, they are excellent for free ranging. The roosters are mostly white, with some patches of red, which, along with their large size, makes them especially suitable to raise for meat. You can expect Red Sex Link hens to mature to 6 or 7 pounds and lay between 200 and 280 eggs per year. Roosters grow to 8 or 9 pounds.
The Cinnamon Queen is a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Rhode Island White hen. On maturity, the hens are reddish with some white feathering, while the plumage of mature roosters is white, sometimes with shoulder feathers in shades of red. Cinnamon Queens grow fast and lay early. The shells of their large to extra-large eggs are a rich brown. You can expect Cinnamon Queen Hens to reach 5 or 6 pounds at maturity and lay 250 to 320 eggs per year. Roosters grow to 7 or 8 pounds.
The Golden Comet is much the same as the Cinnamon Queen in being the result of a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Rhode Island White hen, but is produced from a different set of bloodlines. The basic difference between them is that some chicken keepers like the name Cinnamon Queen, while others prefer Golden Comet. You can expect Golden Comet hens to reach 5 or 6 pounds at maturity and lay between 250 and 320 eggs per year. Roosters weigh 7 to 8 pounds.
As hybrid chickens, sex links are not listed in the American Standard of Perfection, therefore are not suitable for exhibition purposes. They are also not the ideal choice if you plan to hatch your own future replacements, since hybrids do not breed true. Dual-purpose sex link hybrid chickens are, however, great to have as hens for laying eggs, to raise as backyard meat birds, or to keep as pet chickens in your backyard or on your farm.
Gail Damerow, author, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens