Ameraucana Chickens: Know Before You Buy!

Ameraucana Chickens: Know Before You Buy!

With large expressive eyes, Ameraucana chickens could just be the inspiration for the angry hen stereotype in cartoons.

 

But there’s more to this rare chicken than their eyes, multicolored feathers, and the lovely blue eggs they lay!

 

You’ll see online that lots different types of chickens are sold as Ameraucana chickens.

 

This breed of chicken is easily confused with the Araucana chicken and Easter Eggers – especially since both breeds lay blue eggs.  

 

Araucana vs Ameraucana vs Easter Egger are common subjects in forums and threads, but Ameraucana chickens have a few stand out characteristics that separate it from the other blue egg layers.

 

From afar, you’d see a beautiful creature that does not look like the average chicken in the coop. Now, let’s inspect the Ameraucana chicken from head to toe.

 

About Ameraucana Chickens – Breed Characteristics, History, & Personalities

For a little bit of storytelling, Ameraucana chickens originated in the United States.

 

Agricultural scientists created this breed, hoping to preserve the genetics of the South American, blue-egg laying Araucana chicken – but also to eliminate its lethal gene that can kill the chick while inside the shell.

 

Eventually, the Pratt Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania got the right genes together sometime in the early 70’s.

 

And yes, most breeds of chickens are not considered “true chicken breeds” by most people until the American Poultry Association (APA) says so, and eight varieties later it was finally recognized by APA and American Bantam Association (ABA) in the 1980s.

 

Ameraucana chickens have a beautiful curved beak, large eyes, and a red “pea” comb. This pea comb, together with the wattles and the round earlobes, should be red.

 

Ameraucana chickens also appear to have a “beard of feathers” and adorable muffs that sometimes almost cover their face.

 

This makes them charming – giving you more reason to own and breed one, if the chicken gods would permit you to find Ameraucana chickens for sale.

 

If closely compared the Araucana and Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas will also have a well spread, full tail. (Araucana chickens, on the other hand, are “rumpless.”

 

This chicken breed also sports a few uncanny characteristics like having blue slate shanks and bottoms.

 

Are Ameraucanas Cold Hardy?

Most chicken breeds (like Silkies) are cold hardy, and Ameraucanas are no exception – ours have always done better in winter than summer.

 

Our Ameraucanas don’t really like going out in the snow, but because they have small pea combs and smaller wattles, they are resistant to frostbite on these areas.

 

They also lay well during colder seasons.

 

Offering your flock extra treats during the colder months can lift their spirits and provide extra protein.

 

Can Ameraucana Chickens Fly?

Ameraucana chickens can fly short distances and enjoy the view from a tree branch. They’re smaller and lighter framed than other heavier chicken breeds (like buff orpingtons and brahmas, for example), so it’s easier for them to catch some air for lift off.

 

They won’t fly long distances or even leave your farm, though.

 

How Long Do Ameraucana Chickens Live?

While backyard Araucanas can live more than 10 years, the actual lifespan of your Ameraucana chick can vary greatly depending on its diet, genetics and exposure to predators.

 

Most pet chickens live between 5-6 years if they’re given a warm shelter and a high quality layer feed, clean chicken feeders and waterers, and are protected from fox, raccoons, and other predators.

 

What Is The Difference Between Easter Eggers And Ameraucana Chickens?

Easter eggers are hybrids, usually a mix between Ameraucana or Araucana chickens and a brown egg layer, such as a Rhode Island Red.

 

They come from different breeds with one parent having the blue egg laying gene.

 

Unlike Ameraucana chickens, Easter Eggers don’t just lay blue eggs – they can lay brown, green, or even pink eggs – a veritable rainbow of egg colors.

 

If you’ve heard of lavender Ameraucana chicken eggs, you’re likely thinking of Easter Eggers. Both make wonderful pets!

 

The Ameraucana chicken egg color is blue – not lavender, however.

 

Also, they do not breed true, so even if you breed 2 Easter Egger chickens together, there’s no telling what characteristics the offspring will have. No two Easter Eggers look exactly the same.

 

Personally, I like this “grab bag” approach to breeding, but the bottom line is breeding two Easter Egger chickens together can have some surprising and offbeat results.

 

Types of Ameraucana Chickens

Be ready to have a colorful flock when you have these clucking in your coop or grazing in your backyard. Each variety come in different sets of color.

 

So, What Colors Do Ameraucana Chickens Come In?

The recognized Ameraucana chicken colors (all Ameraucana chicken breeds colors) are:

 

  1. black,
  2. blue,
  3. brown red,
  4. buff silver,
  5. blue wheaten,
  6. wheaten, and
  7. white.

 

Some breeders are also working on new varieties like black gold and also lavender! How wonderful would those be?

 

The blacks and blues are the most common Ameraucana colors.

 

The black Ameraucana chicken is purely black with shiny coal black feathers aside from the red wattles, ears, and comb.

 

The same is true for the white Ameraucana chicken – except it’s snow white and not black.

 

Don’t expect sky-blue chickens to grow from a Blue Ameraucana chicken, though.

 

The blues of this breed are more of an ashy blue. This color is derived from the black Ameraucana chicken that has been diluted with the blue gene.

 

The Ameraucana recognized variety, buff, is also quite interesting to look at, with its contrasting golden buff color and blue legs.

 

You might also be confused with the wheaten and blue wheaten color. It’s quite simple: blue feathers on blue wheatens will replace the black feathers on regular wheatens for both hens and roosters.

 

Just be aware that when you raise Ameraucana chicks, you’ll only be able to distinguish what color they will be as adults when they start feathering out. This is especially true if you get them from a hatchery, rather than a local dealer where you can see the parent stock.

 

Until then, you can only fantasize and stare at an ameraucana chicken color chart hoping they would turn out to be the colors you want to have.

 

I want the Ameraucana recognized variety blue myself.

 

Expect in general that males would have more orange tint with blue and gray shanks.

 

Anyway, no matter what color your chicks turn out to be they’re guaranteed to have blue eggs in different shades as long as they are genuine/pure breeds.

 

There is also a “standard” size and bantam size for this breed.

 

A standard Ameraucana chicken can weigh up to 4.5 – 6.5 lbs and stand up to 18” tall. Ameraucana bantam chickens are the cuter versions that grow half the size of a standard – and bantam chickens in general tend to be more cuddly with their humans than regular-sized chickens. You can buy the bantam versions from these hatcheries.

 

Are Ameraucanas Good Egg Layers?

There is no questioning the capabilities of the Ameraucana for egg production. They are one of the most productive egg laying breeds known to give at least 250 to 300 eggs a year, weighing approximately 53 – 60 grams.

 

Those are some nice, big, blue eggs!

 

Do Ameraucana Chickens Lay Eggs Everyday?

On the average, they produce 3-6 eggs a week, more in their first laying year. The exact amount they’ll lay – and whether they lay consistently – will depend on their diet and environment. It’s always best to provide a high-quality layer feed with at least 16% protein and plenty of calcium.

 

Note that chickens who do not have a good diet, or who free range for most of their nutrients, or have experienced some sort of stress, might not lay as well. You can explore reasons chickens stop laying eggs here.

 

What Age Do Ameraucana Chickens Lay Eggs?

They start laying eggs at about 6-7 months old, although it can depend on certain factors, such as the individual chicken, her diet, the time of year, etc. Pullets that reach the 7 month mark during the darkest days of winter might not lay until spring, since 12-14 hours of light is needed to spur egg production. Once your hens do start laying, offer them a high quality layer feed with plenty of calcium.

 

Some breeders would say that it’s quite a long time before they start laying, but pretty colored eggs are worth the wait. When your hens start producing eggs, make sure they don’t go through too much stress like change in environment or feeding. Stressed hens might just stop laying.

 

Their eggs aren’t only coveted for their unique and gorgeous blue color. Ameraucana chicken eggs are one of the healthiest, with low cholesterol and rich flavors.

 

Personalities

This breed can be misunderstood because there is a variety of Ameraucana chicken temperaments. Looks are deceiving for this breed.

 

A lot of breeders would testify that it is a friendly breed and easy to tame. They can be fun to watch when they start being curious and explore the backyard.

 

To give a piece of advice though, you might need to think twice about picking them up for a cuddle. These mild chickens are also easily spooked when they are not used to having humans around and can be broody.

 

The exception are well-handled bantam varieties.

 

In Ameraucana flocks, males are dominant. They protect hens when in they’re in trouble, but they can be aggressive too. It is a good practice to separate the males from females when they’re not breeding if the roosters are being difficult.

 

While they enjoy free-ranging and enjoying mother nature’s treat, this is a breed that doesn’t mind confinement. They can easily adjust and thrive cooped up, as long as their environment is set up to reduce stress.

 

You can provide them treats and toys to keep them entertained.

 

Starting to think Ameraucana chickens are for you? Let me know – leave a comment below! (Feature image courtesy of Royale Photography [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])




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Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

You might be surprised at the largest chicken breed, or you might already have an idea of the winner.

 

Giant chicken breeds are a great addition to any backyard flock! They have presence, they’re usually very beautiful, they definitely resemble tiny dinosaurs, and you’ll enjoy watching them!

 

With each of the breeds in this article, you’ll have the finest selection of dual purpose kings or egg-cellent egg layers.

 

If you’re considering adding some gentle but big chicken breeds to your flock, then this article is for you. You’ll discover the largest chicken breeds that are also great egg layers – and despite their size, they’ll easily fit into any backyard flock!

 

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

Jersey Giant

The Jersey Giant chicken is one of the biggest chicken breeds out there. However, they are more than just their size: Docile and mellow, they’re also great pet breeds! Jersey Giants are a heritage chicken breed that was developed in New Jersey in the 19th century as an alternative to turkeys. They’re good layers at 150 to 200 large eggs per year. The Jersey Giant egg color is brown.

 

How Much Does A Jersey Giant Chicken Weigh?

What Is The Heaviest Chicken Breed? The Jersey Giant! The roosters can weigh up to 15 pounds (they’re called Jersey GIANTS for a reason), with the black variety usually just a pound heavier than the white.

 

How Big Is A Jersey Giant Chicken?This huge chicken breed is usually between 16 to 26 inches tall.

 

Cochin

Cochin chickens are fluffy giants who are also one of the most popular chicken breeds. They’re friendly, cold hardy, and lay eggs consistently. If you add one to your flock, you can choose between a full-sized Cochin or the bantam variety (or get both. Definitely get both).

 

Standard sized Cochins are about 5 pounds, and are well-loved for their fluffy, soft feathers. They do have feathers on their feet, giving them a fun and unique appearance. They do like to be handled, especially the bantam variety (which weighs about 2 pounds – perfect for children.)

 

All Cochins love treats, and you can expect about 160 eggs per year. You can learn more about Cochins here.

 

Brahma

How Big Can A Chicken Get? Brahmas are well known because of a video of a giant rooster that went viral (owned by a man named Fitim Sejfijaj, based near Kosovo) and boasts the title of “Biggest Chicken In The World” (Guinness Book of World Records). Suddenly, everyone wanted Brahmas!

 

There’s several different varieties of this chicken breed, including:

  • Light
  • Dark
  • Buff
  • Bantam

 

In terms of their size, there’s no difference between a light and dark Brahma, although the bantam version won’t get very big.

 

When it comes to a Brahma vs. Jersey Giant, the Jersey Giant is usually bigger than a Brahma. However, both types of chickens make great pets.

 

The full size Brahmas are an old breed that can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends largely on the breeder). Many people love that Brahmas are feather footed. They’re also great egg layers, and lay up to 300 eggs per year.


You can learn more about Brahmas here.

 

How Big Can A Brahma Chicken Get? How Big Is A Brahma Chicken?

Some can grow to around 30 inches tall, however, this will vary from chicken to chicken and breeder to breeder. Because of its size, it’s sometimes called the “King of Chickens.”

 

Cornish

Developed in the UK during the 19th century, the Cornish chicken as a squat, square body and weighs in at around 10 pounds. They come in several varieties including:

  • Dark
  • White
  • White-Laced Red
  • Buff
  • Black

 

They’re also the parent stock of modern Cornish Rock chickens, which are bred to grow extremely quickly for their meat (Cornish Rock chickens also make docile pets, if you can keep them alive long enough. They tend to have heart issues).

 

Orpingtons

The Orpington chicken breed is a heritage strain of dual-purpose chicken that was developed in the town of Orpington, in the UK. This type of chicken comes in several varieties, including:

  • Buff
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Chocolate Cuckoo (unrecognized)
  • Jubilee (unrecognized)
  • Lavender Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Lavender (unrecognized)
  • Chocolate (unrecognized)
  • Splash (unrecognized)

 

This docile and friendly breed is great for families because they’re calm around children and is laid back with confinement. They’re large, topping out at about 10 pounds. The hens tend to go broody, so they’re great for families that want to hatch chicks (if your hen doesn’t go broody, you can see the incubators we recommend here.)

 

As some of the best egg layers out there, you can expect about 280 eggs per year. You can read more about Orpingtons here.

 

Malines

Originating in Belgium in the 19th century, this chicken breed is one of the largest in the world (rivalling Jersey Giants for heft). The roosters can reach 12 pounds, and both male and females sport cuckoo-patterned feathers. These chickens have a calm temperament, and don’t mind being picked up. They’re fair layers that produce 150 eggs per year. While there is a bantam variety, they’re not readily available.

 

Malay

What Is The Tallest Chicken Breed? The Maylay! While not as hefty as the Jersey Giant, the Malay chicken IS considered the tallest chicken breed in the world, reaching 30 inches in height. (Although the current “Tallest rooster in the world” record is held by a Brahma). Developed in Europe from local chickens and birds from India and the Malay peninsula, they became popular because of their height. Maylay roosters weigh about 9 pounds, and the hens are fair layers. You can expect about 100 eggs per year. Today, they’re mostly kept for ornamental purposes.

 

Langshan

Langshan chickens originated in China, and made their way Westward in the 19th century. They’re feather footed, and lay dark brown eggs. They’re a hardy black chicken breed that’s heat tolerant, and is friendly towards humans. They can weigh up to 9 pounds, and lay about 180 eggs per year.

 

Barred Rock

With sharply defined barred black and white feathers, Barred Rocks are an old American breed that’s been popular since the 1700s. The roosters weigh about 7 pounds, with friendly personalities. As great egg layers, you can expect about 280 eggs a year.

 

Dong Tao

Also known as the “dragon chicken,” Dong Taos have a very unique appearance. Weighing in at about 12 pounds, members of this breed sport enlarged legs and feet. They originated in Vietnam, where they’re prized for their meat. Their big legs make it difficult to lay eggs and move around, so they’re not kept for their eggs.

 

Other Large Chicken Breeds

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the most popular and well known breeds available. Although they’re fallen in popularity the past few years in favor of ornamental breeds, they’re very cold hardy, and aside from regular feed, water, vet care, and housing, they require little care. Roosters weigh approximately 9 pounds.

 

Note: There’s two types of Rhode Island Red breeds: Industrial strains, which are bred for high egg production, and heritage strains, which trace their roots back to the first Europeans in America. The heritage strains tend to be bigger, while the industrial strains are bred with only egg production in mind.

 

Delaware

Delaware chickens are also popular, and are very easy going. They’re not the heaviest birds out there, topping out at about 6 to 8 pounds. They’re great egg layers, and you can expect about 280 eggs per year.

 

Australorp

Australorps are gaining popularity (especially black Australorp chickens) because they’re excellent layers. Originating in Australia, they’re parent stock are Orpingtons, Its name is a mixture of “Australia” and “Orpington.” Males weigh up to 10 pounds, making them fairly heavy. The average hen will lay about 300 eggs per year.

 

What Is The Most Aggressive Chicken Breed?

While you will likely hear different opinions from different owners, the Silver Laced Serama rooster is fairly aggressive, and not recommended for children. Hens can become aggressive when they’re broody and their nest is disturbed. Roosters can become aggressive in the first year of their lives (when hormones kick in) and in early spring. However, most roosters chill out as they age.

 

What Chicken Lays Largest Eggs?

Breeds that lay large eggs include:

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer

 

What Are The Largest Chicken Breeds?

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

What Chicken Breeds Lay Extra Large Eggs?

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer
Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Ever heard of black sex link chickens, but aren’t sure what they’re like? Thinking of adding them to your flock and need more info? In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about this type of chicken!

Pure breed chickens have long been the way to go to add consistency in a home flock of chickens. Pure breeds have some amazing benefits: you can scratch the competition itch by entering them in shows, you are guaranteed registration with the American Poultry Association, and the genetic quirks from long generations are guaranteed to appear in their chicks, leading to generations of consistency within the particular breeds. Yet for all the perks that come from genetic purity, there are just as strong cases of bucking the trend and breeding hybrid chickens. Hybrid chickens are not breeds of chickens, but rather mixes that produce very specifically desired chicken results. One of the most popular of these types of hybrid is the Black Sex Link Chicken. 

What Are Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black sex link chickens are a hybrid mix that results by crossing a pure-bred barred hen and a pure-bred non-barred rooster. For example, crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island Red rooster will result in sex-linked chicks. When these parents mate, the pullets do not receive a barring gene because the barring gene is only on the male chromosome. Because of this, the sex of their chicks is immediately recognizable through its color. From birth, Black Sex Link pullets are all black, and the males are identifiable by a white spot on their heads. The link here is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to know the ins and outs the genetics behind sex link chickens.

What Are Sex Link Hybrids? 

In a nutshell (or an eggshell, as the case may be), a sex link hybrid is NOT an official breed of chicken. They retain many of the more positive qualities of their parent chickens’ breeds but are specifically bred for the uniqueness of their coloring. 

Perhaps the most common and popular example of a sex link hybrid is also the most prominent example of the Black Sex Link. If you cross two popular American chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female – you will get sex linked chicks. The gender of the resultant chicks will be immediately recognizable upon hatching. 

Why Breed Black Sex Link Hybrids?

In the above example (the Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female), the goal is to produce females that can be immediately separated from the males. Then, once these females come of age, they will be some of the best egg-layers around. With good care, they have been known to produce 300 eggs per year. 

An added bonus of this particular pairing of chicken is the size. The Black Sex Link results of this pairing is large enough to serve as meat chickens. Once your Black Sex Link hens have exhausted their eggs, they will make a sizable addition to your dining needs. 

Breed Description FAQ

What Do Black Sex Link Chickens Look Like? 

Black Sex Link pullets are instantly recognizable when they hatch by their pure black down. You can easily recognize male chicks because they have a distinguishable white spot on their heads. At maturity, Black Sex Link hens are usually black with gold hackle and breast feathers. Roosters, on the other hand, have banding across their bodies. Both male and females have red combs and wattles.

So, how large are they? On average, the hens weigh 6-7 pounds. Cockerels weigh around 8-9 pounds. Some hatcheries advertise their black sex link chickens a little lighter: with the hens being only a touch over five pounds and the roosters being about 6 pounds. 

Are they friendly? Black Sex Link Chickens are sometimes described as skittish, curious, energetic, and friendly. Many of their owners love them, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Some Black Sex Link Chickens have been known to be noisy or aggressive to other breeds. This is especially true with the roosters. Some of this could be explained away as an alpha-bird attitude in that they occasionally enjoy being at the top of the pecking order. You might wonder if the hens are broody: we’re happy to share that black sex link hens are not known for their broodiness. 

How long do black sex link chickens live? They live as long as any normal chicken. Rhode Island Reds – one of the parent breeds – are generally known to live into their eighth year. If you’re worried about them surviving the winter, don’t fret: The two parents of the average Black Sex Link Chicken are the Rhode Island Red and the Barred Plymouth Rock. Considering that both of these breeds are very cold hardy, Black Sex Link Chickens breed true in this regard; they are very cold hardy and are ideal for colder environments.

black sex link hen in grass

Are Sex Link Chickens An Accepted Breed By The American Poultry Association?

No, they are not and never will be. One important requirement for chickens to be accepted breeds is that they have to actually be breeds. A breed is a type of chicken that, as defined in the American Poultry Association’s list of breeds, breeds true. A standard is a definition of a breed that each subsequent generations of the breed can be compared to. The APA doesn’t want to disqualify breeds, and offer a means of applying for the entry of new breeds of chicken into the registry but each applicant must have a standard. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are hybrids, they will not breed true. This means that the resultant offspring will not conform to any standard, and they might display a number of deviations from either parent.

Do Black Sex Link Chickens Breed True?

For a chicken to breed true, there must be some genetic consistency within the breed. With Black Sex Link Chickens, the father cockerels share two color genes that might match inconsistently with the single-color gene of the mother hens. The inconsistency of the result could produce variations like heavy banding, or alternative coloring. Because of the roulette matching of genes, Black Sex Link Chickens cannot breed true. As a result, most Black Sex Link Chickens are not bred past the first generation. 

How Often Do Black Sex Link Chickens Lay Eggs?

Black Sex Link Chicken hens thrive at egg production and can produce about 300 eggs in a single year with proper care and if they are in good health. They start laying at 18-20 weeks on average, but have been known to start laying at 16 weeks or as late as 26 weeks. They usually maintain optimum egg development through about their fifth year, when they begin waning in egg production. Their eggs are brown.

What Kind of Health Issues Do Black Sex Link Chickens Have? 

Black Sex Link Chickens suffer from the same health issues that most other chickens endure. As far as external threats, ticks, mites, lice, worms, and other parasites are all dangerous to them. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are so important for egg production, you’ll want to minimize their potential danger. A great way to beat the bugs is by boosting your chickens’ immune systems with apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic. 

black sex link rooster in grass

Where To Find Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black Sex Link Chickens are quite a popular hybrid for their impressive egg production and good size for dining purposes. As a result, they are fairly easy to find in a number of commercial locations around the USA. 

  • Tractor Supply 
  • McMurray Hatchery, based in Webster City, IA
  • Cackle Hatchery, based in Lebanon, MO (Read our review of Cackle here).
  • Purely Poultry, located in Fremont, WI
  • Townline Hatchery, from Zeeland MI

A common question is “Are black sex link chickens and black star chickens the same?” – and it’s because sometimes, hatcheries want to distinguish their hybrids from other, similar, chicks. But ultimately, Black Sex Link Chickens and Black Star Chickens are the same. A simple way to look at it is to think of “Black Star Chickens” as a specific designer name for the hybrid. There might be some minor differences between the one and the other, but all Black Star chicks possess black as their primary color and can be sexed from hatching.

Why Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Are The Best Pets

Why Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Are The Best Pets

Thought about adding Mille Fleur d’Uccle chickens to your flock? Not sure if they’re right for you? Read on, and discover this wonderful breed!

The Mille Fleur d’Uccle is a small bantam whose heart is massive. It is a chicken who loves affection – and reciprocates. Their speckled feathering is lovely, and captivates all who look upon them. Unlike other breeds, people buy Mille Fleurs as pets. They’re very quiet and love cuddles. They’re the perfect size for small children. If you add them to your flock, they’ll bring great big smiles to your family!

What Does “Mille Fleur d’Uccle” Mean?

The breed originated in Belgium, and the name “Mille Fleur d’Uccle” has French origins. Mille means “thousand”. Fleur means “flowers”/ De and the contractive form d’ mean “of/from”. Uccle is a region of Brussels where this breed originated. So, the chicken’s name translates to Million Flowers from Uccle. How adorable!

Where Do Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Come From?

These birds have quite the origin story! In the late 1800s, a Dutch businessman living in Belgium, Michael Van Gelder, set out to create the greatest chicken breed. By 1905, he’d reached his goal when he premiered his new breed at a chicken show – the Mille Fleur d’Uccle bantam. Soon, it’s popularity spread over the continent and into the UK. The USA followed soon after. The American Poultry Association added the breed to the Standard of Perfection in 1914.

What Do Mille Fleur d’Uccle Look Like?

They’re adorable! Mille Fleurs live up to their names – their red feathers are tipped with white and black. It looks like they’re covered in a thousand little flowers! They have a muff and beard which extends all around the head. They have feathered shanks, and the feathering can be quite impressive! Female Mille Fleur d’Uccle have very small or non-existent wattles. Both males and females have a single comb.
Hens and roosters are about 1 – 2 pounds. They’re a true bantam chicken and their small size very much reflects this. There is no standard size for this breed. Because they’re so tiny, they’re more susceptible to predators (especially rats). Keep this in mind when choosing a coop for them!
If you read my article about how chickens mate, you might plan to coop your hens with other breeds. Remember, these hens can’t have large roosters mating with them. They’ll get squashed!
These birds do well in cold weather. But because they’re small, you should shelter them from extremely cold temperatures. Keep them in a warm coop that’s are not drafty. In the summer, be sure to keep them in the shade as much as possible.

Personalities

This breed is perfect for any flock. Owners everywhere love these birds for their remarkably docile temperaments. The hens are very quiet. They’re fantastic around children, and will allow your child to hold them. They do well in small chicken coops, and are great for urban flocks. The hens aren’t very broody.
They don’t fly often, if their coop is welcoming. But if necessary, they’re great fliers. Larger birds have too much mass for their wings to carry them. Bantams have a leaner body that’s more suited to flight than many birds. But you won’t have to clip their wings – they tend to be homebodies. They sometimes roost in higher locations, but usually just a few feet off the ground. You might find your hens prefer roosting on swings! 

Are There Any Other Varieties?

Technically, no. The Mille Fleur is a type of d’Uccle bantam. If you flip through a hatchery catalog, you’ll notice their cousins:
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Golden Neck
  • Grey
  • Mottled
  • Porcelain
  • Self-Blue
  • White
The Porcelain d’Uccles are popular as well.

Are They Good Egg Layers?

Mille Fleurs are fair layers, mostly kept for ornamental reasons, and not for egg production. Hens lay about 160 small cream-colored eggs per year. Provide a safe nesting area, and you can expect your hen to lay consistently when she’s old enough. Your pullets will start laying when they’re about 6 months old.
mille fleur chicken hen

Health Concerns

Because of their leg feathers, they are slightly more at risk for mites than other chickens. You should take steps to protect your flock from mites.

Here’s Where To Buy Mille Fleur d’Uccles

  • Meyer Hatchery in Polk, OH, offers them throughout the year.
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, IA, offer unsexed chicks throughout the year.
  • Hoover’s Hatchery in Rudd, IA, offer these chickens in minimum orders of 20 throughout the year.
  • Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds of Hackensack, MN, offers them throughout the year.
  • The Chick Hatchery in Lansing, MI, has availability from February through August.
  • From early February through mid-August, Cackle Hatchery offers chicks from their headquarters in Lebanon, MO.
  • Day-olds are available at My Pet Chicken based in Monroe, CT.
Bringing a Mille Fleur d’Uccle into your family is a great idea! They have fun personalities, and you’ll fall in love! (Not sure what to feed a bantam to keep them healthy? Read this article next!)
Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Heard of Delaware chickens? Did you know they’re fast headed for extinction? For a chicken breed that was developed in 1940, the Delaware Chicken has the potential to be one of the shortest-lived breeds out there. So what is this breed, and why are they on the edge of extinction?

History of Delaware Chickens

George Ellis of Ocean View, Delaware is the father of this breed. He was looking to produce a fast-feathering bird that grew quickly – with the goal of promoting them in the competitive broiler market. As he experimented with a number of breeds and breed mixes, he stumbled upon the occasional Columbian pattern. He liked this barred spotting from the crossing of New Hampshire hens and Barred Plymouth Rock roosterse, and focused on developing stock so the color bred true. His “Indian River” chicken was the result. By 1952, when the Standard of Perfection recognized this bird, it changed its name to reflect its state of origin: The Delaware Chicken. 

For a time, this striking mostly white bird was primed for the spot of number-one broiler, but it soon lost any chance it had when Perdue (yes, that Perdue) made the Cornish Rock (and its crosses) the go-to for its industrial warehouses. By popularizing the Cornish Rock, much of the private love and profitability of the Delaware fell to the wayside. Its slow decline has persisted to this day, and in 2009, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy listed it as critical. However, thanks to some serious dedication, breeders have brought them up to the “watched” list.   

delaware chicken hen

By Linda from Chicago, USA

Why Should We Hope to Bring the Delaware Chicken Back?

For those for whom patriotism is important, the Delaware Chicken is distinctly American. Bred and raised in the USA, it never gained the traction needed to find itself imported to other countries. To this day, it can only be found in the USA. Delaware chickens are friendly, large, and excellent dual-purpose breeds. While they were originally not developed for small farms or private flocks, this hardy bird is an excellent egg layer, and a great addition to any backyard farm.

What do Delaware Chickens Look Like?

These are large birds that are mostly the purest of whites – except for their spotted banding of black at the backs of their neck and at the tips of their tails. This coloring is called Columbian, and it’s very pretty.  Roosters may even sometimes have the black barring on their wings. Their comb, wattle, and earflaps are a vivid bright red.

Their legs are equally bright, but yellow rather than red. The legs are clean from feathering. Roosters average around 8.5 lbs, and hens weigh in at 2 pounds lighter: 6.5 lbs. There are also bantam varieties that are 2 lbs(rooster), and 1.75 lbs (hens). Both varieties feather quickly and quick to fill out into a robust body. 

Delawares are friendly and easily handled. They are calm enough to be with children (under supervision, just to be safe). They are reported to be a very sociable chicken, who enjoy babbling to their humans. If you are looking for a super-quiet bird, they might not be ideal. That said, they are not super noisy, either – they are just very sociable. They are also quite curious and intelligent. 

Are Delaware Chickens Good Layers?

They lay between 100 and 150 large brown eggs per year. They might not be as good as championship egg-laying breeds, but they are certainly no slouch when it comes to egg productivity. They also have little interest in sitting on their eggs, and rarely go broody. For people looking to complement their flocks with a chicken that is very much “one of the girls,” Delawares are an excellent selection. 

Do They Require any Special Care or Housing?

Delawares are excellent in all climates, from warm to cold, so they don’t need any special housing – just predator safe coops and runs. These birds thrive in free-range settings, or pens that give them enough space to roam. If you do live in colder climates, spreading Vaseline on their combs could prevent frostbite on the coldest days of the year. 

Where Can I Buy Delaware Chickens?

This breed might be on the “watch” list, but they are still available at a number of retailers. The more people who raise Delawares, the less likely they will go extinct!

  • My Pet Chicken, in Monroe, CT,  has limited availability
  • Meyer Hatchery, in Polk, OH, offers them throughout the year
  • Purely Poultry, offers these fine birds and provides shipping across the nation
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery, in Webster City, IA, offers females, Unsexed, and male Delaware chickens. Murray McMurray also works closely with the Livestock Conservacy to repopulate at-risk breed.

Delaware chicken feature image courtesy of Josh Larios, from Seattle, USA

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Golden comet chickens are not something that can be seen streaking through a dark night’s sky. It’s actually a hybrid breed that likely gets its name from its coloring, which ranges from a rich reddish orange to a light golden yellow. Of course, it could be a mix of that and the miniature comets that these hens release nearly every day – and by comets, I mean eggs. The Golden Comet is a chicken that’s one of the most prolific egg layers on earth, and a wonderful choice for anyone wanting to get more “butt nuggets.”

golden comet hen looking at camera

5 Amazing Facts About Golden Comets

  • You can tell right when they’re born whether they’re male or female
  • They’re fantastic layers of brown eggs – you can expect 5-6 eggs per week!
  • They’re very hardy, and do well in cold AND heat
  • They’re friendly chickens who will jump for treats!
  • Because they’re a mix between a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen, each individual chick can look slightly different.

Appearance

So, what do Golden Comet chickens look like? When they hatch, the females are a dark yellow, while the males are such a pale yellow as to be almost white. As adults, the hens are golden red in color with white highlights on their necks and backs. Roosters are white to white with light to dark red feathers on their shoulders. The red of their feathers is sometimes described as a cinnamon, and there is a bit of variety in their coloring. They have single combs. Their legs are yellow, and their beaks are a yellow brown. Mature females weigh four to five pounds. Mature Golden Comet roosters weigh six pounds. 

Golden Comets are Red Sex Link chickens, created by mixing a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen. There are no other variants of Golden Comet chickens, but there are a number of other Red Sex Link chickens, including the Red Star, Golden Buff, Gold Sex Link, and Cinnamon Queen. 

new hampshire rooster in grass

New Hampshire rooster – the male line in Golden Comets.

Red Sex Link Chickens Vs. Other Breeds

Like other great laying hybrids, such as Black Sex Links, Golden Comets are sex linked chickens, meaning you can tell whether a chick is male or female as soon as they hatch. Chickens are notorious for their sexing problems – figuring out whether a chick is a rooster or a pullet is a hassle. It usually requires either vent sexing or waiting a few months (there ARE some tell tale signs earlier, but they’re not 100% surefire). When feathers start replacing the chick’s down, the job becomes a bit easier, but precious time is likely lost by this point. 

Breeding sex link chickens help to speed up this process. When they’re born, the males have different down than the females – so you can immediately tell who is a rooster, and who will lay eggs. Typically, these are hybrid birds that are a mix between two different chicken breeds – usually heritage breeds that have very consistent bloodlines. The most popular type of sex-link chickens are Black Sex-link chickens and Red Sex-Link chickens. 

Golden Comet Personalities

A lot of potential owners wonder “Are golden comet chickens friendly?” Golden Comets are very docile, as long as you’ve raised them to be people friendly. They don’t put up much of a challenge to owners and enjoy spending time with their humans. Sweet and gentle so accurately describe them, that they are even good with children. These birds are among the best layers on the planet, but they are not very broody. This actually works well – it’s pretty hard to collect eggs from a broody hen. 

Do Golden Comet Chickens Breed True?

It is impossible for Golden Comets to breed true. They are a hybrid chicken, which means that the traits bred into them through their two parent breeds might show in different ways – maybe with more white feathers, maybe a lighter golden chest, among other features. If they have offspring with another Golden Comet, their offspring will be as varied as the parents, and the result might even look nothing like either parent.

Are Golden Comet Chickens Good Layers?

Golden Comets lay brown eggs, and they’re so prolific (they drop between 250 and 320 eggs per year), that you can expect to have a fresh egg in your coop for every hen you have – almost every day. If you’re not planning on eating all these eggs immediately, having a suitable storage unit for them all is a must. Unlike other breeds, Golden Comet chickens are cold hardy (in fact, they do great with extremes of both heat and cold) and you’ll likely have eggs year round. 

What age do golden comets start laying eggs? Keep an eye on them, because when they hit 16 weeks, they just might surprise you with your first egg! (This article will tell you some tell tale signs your hen is laying).

How Long Do Golden Comet Chickens Live?

Like other chicken breeds, their life expectancy depends on the individual bird, and how well you care for them. If they have a good diet with a high protein layer feed, you can expect them to live quite long. However, some people have reported that their Golden Comets tend to die young – at only 4-5 years. This might be due to their prolific egg laying. It’s something to keep in mind when choosing this breed. 

Where Can I Buy Golden Comet Chickens?

  • Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO, offers them from early February through the end of September. You can read our review of Cackle here.
  • Purely Poultry in Fremont, WI, also has seasonal batches of Golden Comets: 
  • Tractor Supply Co offers them
  • The Chick Hatchery of Lansing, MI, offers Golden Comets
  • The Chicken Outfitter offers Golden Comets in batches

If you’re looking for a hen that can bring in the proverbial bacon – as long as that bacon is really eggs – you will find no better chicken than Golden Comet chickens!