Collecting samples and analysis
Bird sexing relies on the method of DNA analysis and replication known as Polymerase chain reaction. This allows distinction of gender in birds by testing their DNA, providing an accuracy of 99.9%. PCR allows amplification of a region on the Z and W chromosome that differs in size, clearly marking whether the sample tested is male or female.
Please Note: sample collection kits and instructions for the Avian DNA Sexing are sent by email and require a printer to print them before use. If you do not have access to a printer, please contact us for a quote for sending a kit by post.
Why discover the gender of your birds?
Here are some of the reasons for avian DNA testing.
Medical – some diseases are gender specific and thus affect only males or females. Knowing the gender of a sick bird in advance can help the veterinary surgeon diagnose the condition more quickly and even help with treatment. In such cases, time is of essence and not knowing the sex of the bird could waste valuable time.
Behavioural aspects and bonding – as bird develop from nestlings, their temperament begins changing. Certain bird species of a certain gender might develop problematic behaviours which need to be addressed. Building a good relationship with our avian friends and understanding their behaviours begins from something as basic as knowing their gender. Knowing the gender of our pets (whether birds or otherwise) is crucial to developing a health, loving relationship with them. We need to be able to define the sex of our avian friends in order to maximise the relationship with them.
Mating – if you plan breeding birds you need to make sure to pair birds of opposite sex. Countless people have bought pairs of birds and wondered why these failed to mate and produce offspring. Whilst in some cases, the refusal to mate is based on a lack of attraction between the birds, in many cases it is inexperienced breeders trying to copulate birds of the same sex, thinking that these are male-female pairs.
Blood sample collection
Blood sample collection is done by clipping the nail of a bird in a very specific point. The area will need to be disinfected before clipping the nail. Squeezing the part where the nail has been clipped will cause production of a few blood drops. These blood drops can be collected on a special card and sent back for testing.
Feather sample collection
Avoid using large feathers; choose medium sized feathers found in the chest area. Do not use naturally shed feathers as these may not yield any DNA. Pluck 4- 6 feathers and place these in an unused zip lock bag.
Chromosomes in birds
The avian test is based on analysis of bird chromosomes. Unlike chromosomes in mammals, which are composed of XX or XY chromosome pairs, bird chromosome are composed of ZZ and ZW pairs. One further interesting characteristic about chromosomes and sex determination in birds is that the sex is determined by the female and not by the male. In mammals, the Y chromosome, carried by males, is the sex determining chromosome – if offspring inherit the Y chromosome from their father, they will be males. If they inherited their father’s X chromosome, they will be female. In birds, females carry ZW pairs. The Z chromosome determines whether the offspring will be male. If offspring do not inherit the Z chromosome from their mother, then they will be female.