Increasingly popular are the hybrid chickens known as Red Star (Gold Buff), Black Star, or Gold Star. The Stars are also known as Sex Link chickens because their gender can be determined from the color of their feathers at the time they hatch. These are not officially recognized breeds, but they happen to be some of the most prolific egg layers and they make great pets also.
Most of us (non-professionals) are not able to determine the sex of newly hatched chicks, whose gender characteristics do not emerge until after several weeks of growth. But when you order chicks from a hatchery, you can order one day old female, male, or straight run (not sexed) chicks. Hatcheries employ professionals who are able to “sex” new chicks by performing a test on them. This test usually involves squeezing the poop out of them and seeing if they have a bump which indicates whether they are boys or girls (do not try it at home). As you can imagine, there is a higher demand for future egg layers than for future roosters.
However, through breeding, several crosses have been developed that produce different colored feathers for boys and girls. This makes it easier and more economical to sort these Sex Link chickens right away. Hatcheries have different formulas for these breeds, so there is no set standard. The two most common are called Red Star and Black Star, with Gold (or Golden) Star being available at some hatcheries also. In Europe, there are at least two other kinds as well.
Stars are excellent egg layers and are reported to be some of the friendliest birds by their owners.
Star Chickens (Sex Link) Facts
Understandably, since hatcheries use different crosses, the breed characteristics can vary.
Usually medium to large, with hens weighing around 5-6 pounds.
Red Stars: Cinnamon, usually lighter than a Rhode Island Red. Plumage can have patches of white or light red feathers.
Black Stars: Jet black plumage, often with some dark red feathers around the neck.
Gold Stars: Buff or tan, often with cinnamon overlay.
Very prolific layers of large brown eggs (5 per week is a good estimate).
Stars tend to be friendly, curious, and easygoing.
Some of the best egg layers and pets. They are winter hardy also. Here is a picture of some Red Stars in the snow.