Which Bantams Lay Great Eggs?

Which Bantams Lay Great Eggs?

Oh, bantams, you infinitely cute and cuddly chickens. What is it about small that just turns our knees to jelly? Is it really just because they’re smaller? Or maybe it’s because they’re adorable AND they lay eggs? 

It could also be their attitudes. Most bantams are just the sweetest birds. They really are the perfect package of lovely – they’re irresistible!

If you’re like me, you’re probably going to find a few in your coop. You might never know how they get there, either. One day, you’ll just head out there and find the most adorable hen in with your other layers. Chicken math wins again.

It’s alright, of course, as you’ll fall in love with her, but the question is, if you’re actually planning on adding some bantam hens to your coop, should you spend time researching which variety to add? It couldn’t hurt!

Bantams are more than just a pretty face. They’re great at laying eggs, just like their larger cousins. In fact, you can get several eggs a week from one hen. As a bonus, she won’t eat as much! 

In this article, we’ll look at the top tier bantam eggers (whether they’re true bantams or not). True bantams are chickens whose breed has no regular-sized alternative. “True” bantams will be marked as such, in case anyone is interested. 

Araucanas

These South American birds are known for their blue eggs. They’re a very distinctive breed – they’re “rumpless” and have no tails to speak of.  They are friendly and come in a variety of colors. Like most other bantam varieties on this list, Araucana eggs are quite small. But they lay fairly abundantly – you can expect about 150 blue eggs per year. 

Frizzles

Frizzles are an odd addition to this list. Sure, they are generally excellent layers that can produce about 200 eggs per year. But what really sets them apart from most other chicken breeds on this list is they aren’t actually a breed. They’re a variation of a breed. Meaning, out of 2 parents, in any given clutch, some of the offspring will have frizzled feathers, and some won’t.

Frizzles are birds that have a quirky genetic disposition for feathers that curl outward, where most other chickens have feathers that lay flat against their bodies. They’re delightfully quirky looking as a result.

Two things to consider with these birds is that most frizzles are not cold hardy. Because their feathers do not sit flush, they are susceptible to chills in really cold weather. The other thing to keep in mind is that the number of eggs they produce will intimately reflect the tendencies of their base breed. If you have a Cochin frizzle, it will lay a solid 200 eggs per year, but if you have a Japanese bantam, you’ll get less than half that amount – about 75 max!

Polish Bantams

These funny looking characters are some of the friendliest chickens out there! The tufts on their head are actually extra feathers. While there’s a lot of Polish bantam varieties out there, I’m partial to Silver Laced. You can expect about 150 white eggs per year.

Dutch Bantam

These are another bantam variety that has the potential to add a rainbow of color to your flock. They originated in Holland. Their officially recognized colors are:

  • Partridge
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Lavender
  • Silver

These are really colorful birds. What’s more, Dutchies are true bantams! There is no larger equivalent. These are a special breed designed for their compact sizes and about 160 to 200 small cream-colored eggs each year. 

Barbu d’Uccle

In French, the name means “Beards of Uccle,” and their beards truly are a delight to run fingertips through. These are a newer variety of bantam chicken, but boy are they colorful! They come in:

  • Blue
  • Lavender
  • Mille fleur
  • Porcelain
  • Mottled
  • Black
  • White
  • Cuckoo

For eggs, each year, these lovely birds can deposit up to 200 cream-colored eggs to your collecting baskets.

Brahmas

While Brahmas are known as a large breed, there is a bantam variety. These chickens are amazingly sweet. For people with limited space, you’d be hard pressed to find a hen more ideally suited for urban environments and for cold weather. These little sweethearts are one of the best egg-laying bantams out there – at over 200 each year. An added bonus is the variety of colors that Brahmas come in. In addition to laying lots of eggs, your flock can be a rainbow of light, dark, buff, black, and white.

Cochins

Like Brahmas, Cochins are known for being a larger breed. But there is a bantam variety, and they’re some of the friendliest chickens out there! I really like my Cochin bantam hens, and recommend them to families with children. If anyone is looking for a sweet, docile breed that’s like toy poodle of the chicken world, Cochin bantams are it. As a bonus, each hen usually drops upwards of 200 brown eggs every year. They have feathered legs, and enjoy spending time with their humans.

Easter Eggers

No list about egg laying would be complete without mentioning Easter Eggers. With these birds, you can end up with a coop full of a rainbow of egg colors. Because Easter Eggers are mixed breed chickens, they can lay white, brown, cream, blue, green, or olive eggs. They’re not as friendly as other breeds on this list (in my experience, the Easter Egger bantams tend to be more flighty). But they make up for it with their eggs! You can expect about 200 eggs per year. The color will be dependent on the genetics of each individual chicken.

With the bantam options available, there are two things to keep in mind: the eggs will generally be small (with some possibly even being tiny), and the chickens will be adorable! I hope this list helps you to find the best layers for your number goals. 

How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How many chickens are too many? No really. This is a real question.

For some people, it is the question. But not for reasons one might think. Chickens play such an important role in the lives of people who love them. For some people, it makes sense to have many chickens, especially since hens are amazing at producing eggs. A single chicken is like a cute feathery gift that just keeps on giving. How could someone say “No” to them?

Well, it just so happens that there actually are a few good reasons why it sometimes is important to say “No.”

Reason #1: Space

Keeping chickens has become almost en vogue around the USA. As of a 2017 survey, about 1% of the entire USA keeps chickens. For an era where mass unsustainable farming methods of the past seem to be on the decline, this is quite a remarkable number.

If so many people are keeping chickens, and they’re not running large farms, then where are they keeping these hens? Not every home has space to keep a chicken coop. Well, our concept of chicken homes has to change a bit. Often, owners keep chickens in a small backyard or even inside their apartment.

The space question is perhaps the most important question to consider. Each chicken needs about 10 square feet of coop space to live comfortably. It’s also important to provide a run. Not all homes have the space for them to scratch, peck, and uncover bugs and other goodies. So what then?

When space is tight, the question about chicken numbers becomes essential. If your entire property is less than 1000 square feet, it would be almost impossible to house more than a few comfortably.

Reason #2: Money

Here’s the scenario: a friend has the option to add a new animal to their home. One option is a fluffy young chicken. The other is a 17-hand horse. Both need space and attention. Both will need food and water and shelter. Both will be amazing additions to the family, and the family would enjoy either one. So which one is the better choice?

Well, compare the cost to keep a chicken or a horse. In this case, chickens are a far more economical option. No two ways about it, a horse is far more expensive than a single chicken.

But chickens still cost money. Setting up a coop and providing bedding will cost money. Preparing for adequate waste disposal will cost money or time. Feed will cost money. Health checks, worming, and pest control will cost money. Buying incubators to hatch chicks will cost money. Each of these small costs will add up. Before long, you’ll realize that 50% of last month’s expenses went towards your chickens!

So, the question of what is “too many” chickens boils down to the responsible question for any pet owner. You’ll need to ask yourself, “Do I want to devote part of my income to a pet?” If the answer is yes, then that is some great news! It just might be time to increase the flock! “Too many” chickens would just be that point where the balance in the ledger crosses the line from black to red.

Reason #3: Death

Of course, this is the least enjoyable reason to add another chicken to your flock. But it’s worth considering anyway. Death is one of the hardest parts of life, but it’s unavoidable. When it happens, it can gouge away at one’s heart in ways that might not be readily apparent.

With the loss of a pet, it’s only natural to want to replace that void with a new life. This is normal, and acquiring a new pet can very often lead to a smooth recovery – or at least as smooth as one could find. A new life can add so much to a grieving heart; it is incredible.

The problem is that sometimes, we overcompensate. It’s like stress-eating. You’re overcome with stress, and cope by filling your body with food. You’re momentarily less stressed and have some much-needed energy. This can easily result in a little too much and instead of easing the stress, we gorge. The body doesn’t really need all the calories that we give it. Our coping mechanism ends up putting extra stress on the body.

It’s very easy to slip into, and it can happen after your pet dies. In such an event, there must be a limit. You don’t want to end up with too many birds to easily maintain. If you need to replace your lost friend, consider just getting one. At least for a while.

Reason #4: Family

Family is great. In part, adding a chicken to your home enlivens the family. With each chicken you add to your flock, your family becomes richer in experience. Each hen brings with it their own personality, and part of the excitement is getting to know what makes her tick (peck?).

The Flocking Family

If a chicken is added to a flock, it joins a complex organism that has a pre-established pecking order. It will be difficult for that bird at first, but before long, she will settle into the habit of the barnyard. She will make friends and find her own little spot on the roost.

What could possibly go wrong?

One potential problem is a particularly aggressive chicken. Chickens in general are docile creatures and interested in their bellies and the production of eggs. But there is the occasional rooster or hen that feels the need to pick on others. There might be some safety for the bullied chicken in the larger pack, but that is not always the case. If this happens, about the only possible escape is separating the birds. If warring hens gets too extreme, you might have to find a new home for either the bullied or the bully.

Reason #5: Reproducing

Probably the biggest reason for an increase in flock size is also the most obvious one: reproduction. It happens when there are both roosters and hens living together.

When springtime comes around, roosters might do a little dance that shows a lucky hen that he’s interested. This could result in a clutch of fertilized eggs.  If these fertilized eggs are incubated, they’ll result in a new batch of cute downy chicks. Once this happens, the owner then has to deal with the same question again: keep them or sell them?

There are many ways to keep chickens from reproducing. The simplest way is to have just hens. They’ll lay eggs regardless of the presence of a rooster. Alternatively, you could remove the eggs and not incubate them. This would result in no new generation of chickens.  

Reason #6: The Human Family

One spouse wants more, the other does not. Maybe the kids do, or they are even divided on whether to add another chicken or *gasp!* a dog. Or maybe the kids are begging the parents for more, but such conflict can put stress on the family. It’s important to think of others before adding more chickens to your flock.

Fights can happen. A strong-willed individual could get their way. But this sometimes can create resentment in the household. Resentment is a dangerous thing. If there is too much stress in the household, believe me, your chickens will pick up on it.

Like with the addition of any family member – 2-legged, 4-legged, 3-legged, 2-winged, etc. – the best approach is to discuss it. This gives everyone an equal chance to consider how the addition would change the family. It lets the unit consider both pros and cons. Sometimes an answer of “Not right now” is enough.

The best thing about “Not right now” is that it implies that “soon” another chicken might be added to the flock.

Is there a “right” answer to the idea of whether or not there are “too many” chickens? No. There are so many variables that this is an almost impossible issue. Perhaps most important to the prospective chicken owner is self-knowledge. They’ll need to ask themselves “How many is too many for me?” I’d recommend some serious consideration before the urge to add more chickens takes over.

I would recommend this, but then… I just might have given in to the urge to the flock once or twice. For me, personally, it’s a matter of space and time. Do we want to build another coop? Do we want to spend the extra time making sure extra chickens are all healthy? Or, do we just want to concentrate on the ones we have, and make sure their lives are as happy as possible? That’s how I decide “how many are too many”!

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

Heard about this thing called “layer feed,” but not sure how it’ll help your chickens? Unsure if your chickens’ diet is the best? In this article, you’ll learn all about layer feed, and why it’s critical to raising a healthy flock!

Living things need to eat. In fact, that might be one of the biggest motivators for gathering a group of chickens in our barns and sheds. We look after them, and they provide us with collections of eggs and meat. If you read our article about what chickens can eat, you know that to produce an adequate supply of eggs for us, our hens need the right nutrients for the job.

To aid in this, industry experts created specially-created feeds called layer feed. These feeds help hens with egg production. They also some smaller bonuses to our chickens.

What Is Layer Feed?

Layer feed is a mixture that helps chickens grow strong and healthy. It offers them a balanced mix of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It’s feed specifically for laying hens, and has healthy amounts of protein and calcium. Your hens need a lot of both to lay healthy eggs!

Example of layer feed ingredients

How Much Protein Should A Layer Feed Be?

A feed with 16-18% protein is best, with the right nutrients for your chickens to remain healthy. A layer feed isn’t the same as a chick starter, which is formulated for baby chickens.

A common question we get is about how to switch to a layer feed from chick starter. For the first part of your chickens’ lives, they should be on starter and grower feeds. Then once they begin laying, you should switch them to a layer feed. It’s easiest to switch gradually over the course of a week. A sudden switch could lead to diarrhea and other gastric problems.

Laying hens will eat about a quarter pound of feed each day. Free-ranging hens need less than this, as they will be foraging for much of their own feed. Despite their foraging, they will still need a significant amount of layer feed to help maintain a proper nutritional balance.

You might wonder can roosters eat layer feed, since they don’t lay eggs. In short, yes they can. They’ll be perfectly healthy. It’s unrealistic to house roosters and hens together and feed different meals.

Can Chicks Eat Layer Feed?

Your chicks have different dietary requirements than your fully-grown chickens. They will need different nutrients. Layer feed has extra calcium, which can cause your chicks to not grow correctly. It’s always best to feed your baby chickens an 18% starter ration.

Does Layer Feed Have Grit?

No, it does not. Grit is a coarse and abrasive material that chickens can safely ingest. It helps them grind up and properly digest food. It has no nutritional value, so you should offer it separately. You can read more about grit here.

Can Broiler Chickens Get Layer Feed?

Broiler chickens need a higher protein percentage than egg layers. The best feed for them are these heavier protein content feeds. In a pinch, your broilers would not suffer from layer feed. But the lower protein content might mean your chickens are smaller than expected.

How Much Does Layer Feed Cost?

Layer feed can range in price. A budget feed at your local farm store might cost about $.50-.60 / lb. If you are looking for non-GMO or organic homemade mixes, they will be a little more expensive. But your chickens will have a better diet. This is the Non-GMO layer feed we use.

Should I Make Homemade Layer Feed?

Whether to make homemade layer feed vs. store-bought layer feed is up to you. It depends on your lifestyle, free time, and the particulars of your farms. There are many recipes available online (like this one here). The following is a list of ingredients that are most often included in homemade layer feeds.

  • Oat groats
  • Regular naked oats
  • Black sunflower seeds, 
  • Hard red wheat
  • Soft white wheat
  • Kamut flour
  • Millet
  • Whole corn
  • Crack corn
  • Popcorn
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Sesame seeds
  • Brewers’ yeasts
  • Sea kelp
  • Alfalfa
  • Barley
  • Fish meal
  • Flax seed
  • Food-grade lime or aragonite

Each ingredient brings its own value into the mix: oils, protein content, nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, calcium, and energy. The ratio of ingredients can vary, and the higher protein ingredients will probably be more expensive than the grains. As a result, the grains will usually compose the bulk of the homemade layer feeds. Seeds and supplements like peas will certainly be more expensive, but they add tons of nutrients and variety to the layer feed.

You can extra supplements depending on the season. If it’s time for a worming or mite-prevention cleansing, food grade diatomaceous earth, garlic, or cider vinegar can all be added to help with keeping your birds’ bodies healthy – both inside and outside. You can give these supplements temporarily or long-term. You can mix the ingredients into garbage pails or metal pails by hand.

One of the biggest advantages of using store-bought layer feeds is the scientific measurements of protein. Excess protein can create problems in many barnyard animals. Renal dysfunction is one problem that does occur with too extreme a protein quantity. But a low protein content can result in smaller or abnormal eggs. It can also cause your chickens to stop laying and/or to become flighty.

You also might wonder whether you should ferment chicken feed. There are many resources online that show you how to ferment chicken (here’s ours). It’s certainly not necessary, but it’s very easy. The main idea is to submerge your flock’s feed under water, and allow beneficial bacteria to grow. If you’re worried about gut health, and want to do everything possible for your flock, then fermenting feed might be for you! You can also ferment chick starter.

Do Pullets Prefer Store-Bought Layer Feeds To Homemade Layer Feeds?

This is a very specific question that requires significantly more research for a definitive answer. Current observations show that there is no preference. Picky eaters are everywhere, so there just might be one in your flock. Chickens are live creatures, and some can certainly be more picky than others. If this is a research question that you decide to pursue, please let us know! We would love to hear your results!

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

There will always be people who think layer feeds are unnecessary. And in some situations, they’re possibly right. But industry studies show that a 16% layer feed is the basis of a good diet. Personally, I would stick to “tried-and-true” facts.

Where To Buy Layer Feed

Layer feeds are available everywhere, and we even sell our own – and very popular – blend right here. Petco, Tractor Supply, and even Wal*Mart all stock layer feeds. Chances are good that a simple Google search of “layer feed” and “nearby” will net you a source for the feeds.

Photo of our layer feed

Layer feeds have become a single stop for your egg-laying hens. They are easy to mix, contain a good balance of ingredients for your little ladies, and help your flock produce the “butt nuggets” we all know and love. By looking after the eating habits of our girls, we are improving the quality of our own food: our eggs.

Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Male chickens are so easy to ignore. It is so easy for society to wash their hands of them. Roosters are important, but for some people, they’re far less important than the females of the species. But why is this? Why are roosters or cockerels be abandoned with a shrug and maybe a wave? 

The simple answer is that roosters cannot lay eggs, and unless they are being raised as broilers, they are not ideal for meat, either. When hatcheries set out to produce the next generation of chickens, they often endure an awkward period of equal love for all freshly hatched chicks. The love of all chicks is palpable, as any chicken owner might tell you, but there does come with this a certain degree of anticipation – of anxiety, as long as the chickens are not sex-linked. 

At some point, this batch of fresh-faced little peepers will be sexed. When this happens, the fates of the birds will reveal their cards.

The hens will go into the egg houses or be shipped to eager new owners. One or two of the roos will find their way into the breeding program. But what if there are an abundance of males? Can all of these roosters find their way into that program? Not usually. Because food is expensive, many of these males find their lives shortened. 

This is a tragic truth of roosters. But if you read my last article about roosters, you’ll discover that they’re wonderful additions to any flock. Today, rather than consider the darkness of their lives, let’s look at what roosters are, and why we should value each and every one.

Are They Roosters Or Cockerels?

It’s good to start with a definition. What are male chickens called? In some circles, they are called “roosters”. In others, they have the name “cockerel.” So, which one is correct? Well, technically, both. A cockerel is a young, immature rooster. A “rooster” is a sexually mature male chicken. Easy! 

Why Keep A Rooster At All?

Roosters serve three significant purposes in your flock of chickens. The most obvious one is reproduction. Hens will lay eggs regardless of the presence of a cockerel. But to fertilize them, a rooster must be present. Farms with hens whose only purpose is to produce eggs might not even need a single rooster around. 

The second purpose of the rooster is that of defense. A single male will stand guard and protect the flock. They are constantly on guard against perceived threats to his hens and chicks. Though they might not look like great fighters, a rooster can hold his own against a number of common threats – attacking with sharp beak, blows from his wings, and scratching with talons and spurs.

Roosters are also good at finding food for the flock. Most people who keep chickens understand the value of a well-planned diet, but traditionally, finding especially tasty vittles fell to the rooster. Once he found something yummy, he would share it with the rest of the crew. 

A fourth reason supersedes the more traditional reasons for chickens in a family – as food, breeding, or eggs – and is far more in line with a modern reason for chickens: vanity. A good rooster just looks good! Many chicken breeds are quite docile, and that coupled with a cheery attitude and generations of good genes, and these males are practically built for showing. This purpose has little to do with the rest of the flock, and everything to do with the individual owner’s motivation for having these birds in their lives. 

Exploring Roosters: How Does Society See Roosters?

They Crow A LOT

This is perhaps one of the most enduring images of a barnyard. You have a rooster on a fencepost, just quietly awaiting the first rays of dawn. The faintest grey coloring slips over the horizon, and the rooster is there, ready, willing and able to greet the sun. Their distinctive call blasts out over the farm. Their crow is the original alarm clock, as it heralds the start of the day. When considering the legacy of a rooster, it is almost impossible to divorce oneself from this cry. It is both an endearing feature of the animal and a damning one. I mean, does anyone really enjoy waking up in the morning?

They’re Cocky

We all know that person. They have a smirk that can kill, and love telling tales of their exceptional lives. These are the ones that have never gone bowling and with their first throw, hit a strike. They have a saunter, a swagger, a sashay; all of these almost demand that attention gravitates towards them, because, after all, they should have their own gravity fields. To themselves, they are stars! Sure, sometimes these attitudes are very much not deserved, but other times, they sure are. These people are cocky. 

As you might have guessed, the adjective “cocky” comes from “cockerel.” Originally, back in Shakespeare’s time, this was a longer “cocksure” – sure of themselves just like a rooster! It’s a good term, one that makes an excellent metaphor for someone. A rooster tends to stand tall and proud, his tail feathers up, his head even higher, perpetually on guard against any threat to the safety and stability of his flock. A truly cocky person takes on the same mannerisms. But rather than protect a flock, a cocky human stands taller and prouder than everyone around them. LOL!

They Fight

Very often, a group of roosters can live together in peace and harmony. There are exceptions, and when a number of roos enter a barnyard, they might become extremely aggressive with one another. These bouts of aggression help the males to figure out dominance. Like with any social grouping, leaders need to be established. This is called establishing a pecking order.

However, when roosters are raised together, they probably won’t fight, because they will have sorted out the pecking order long before they’re mature. The usual rule is keeping 1 rooster per 10 hens, but if you have a docile roo, you can usually keep him with another rooster. Just keep an eye on your hens to make sure they’re not getting hurt.

Roosters are amazing animals. A good one can add so much joy to our lives, and can be trusted to look after the hens in our (short-term) absences. I can’t even begin to describe the value that my own roosters have brought me and my family over the years.

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!)