A little moody, Wyandotte chickens are such a beauty to keep in your backyard. They are popular, not just because of the beauty but also because of their incredible laying capability. They make good mothers hence an excellent choice to keep if you want to build your backyard flock.
Wyandotte chickens make great pets and live relatively well with other chickens. With an average lifespan of between 6 to 12 years, these chickens will quickly become part of your family. If you are considering keeping some, here is a comprehensive guide on keeping this popular American chicken breed.
The History of Wyandotte Chicken
Wyandotte chickens are known to be of American origin, in particular, New York. The name comes from a Native American tribe and language, which ascertains that indeed this breed originated from America.
The Wyandotte people were not significantly involved with the breed, but they played a significant role in helping white settlers in the area. This is probably why this breed was named after them, but it is still unclear how the name stuck years later.
The original name of the breed was American Sebright, which later changed to Wyandotte after the bird was accepted by the American Poultry Association. The first Wyandotte chicken was a Silver Laced variety dating back to 1860 in New York.
The second variety was the Gold laced Wyandotte. This second one was created by breeding a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen with a Gold Spangled Hamburg and a Partridge Cochin cock. During this time, the birds were called Winnebagoes before changing the name to Wyandotte.
Early in the 1880s, the first Wyandottes crossed the Atlantic, making their way into British homes. Around 1904 the Wyandotte became so popular in England. The growing popularity made these birds a valued asset, with prices ranging between 35 to 165 pounds per bird.
The Appearance of the Wyandotte Chicken
The Wyandotte chicken is one of the sturdy breeds popular in America. An adult Wyandotte chicken can weigh up to nine pounds. The Wyandotte hens are a little smaller and weigh in at six or seven pounds. There is a less popular variety of Wyandotte chickens; bantam Wyandotte chickens that weigh between 36 and 42 ounces.
It comes in a variety of colors that are recognized by the American Poultry Association. Other colors are yet to be acknowledged, although popular. The Wyandotte is full-breasted and has a large frame. The head is larger and features a deep rose comb.
A rose comb sits closer to the head of the chicken instead of staying upright and erect. This type of comb is popular and is not only beautiful to look at but also protects the chicken from frostbite during harsh winters. It is quite meaty and makes it a perfect part of the dinner table.
The American Poultry Association states that Wyandottes should have yellow skin and yellow legs. In normal situations, the legs should be clean and without feathers with four toes on each foot. Wyandotte chickens have sturdy legs and can hold body weight.
Wyandotte chickens have a red face, comb, wattles, and earlobes. The beak comes in a dark golden, almost yellow color while the eyes are uniquely orange and bright. The appearance of the other parts of the Wyandotte depends on the exact variety. For example, the golden laced Wyandottes have golden feathers with deep black laces.
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Varieties of the Wyandotte Chicken
Here is a list of the varieties recognized by the American Poultry Association
- Silver laced Wyandotte: Crossed between a silver spangled Hamburg and a dark-colored Brahma.
- Golden laced Wyandotte: Bred between a Partridge Cochin, Gold spangled Hamburg and Silver laced.
- Silver Penciled
- Buff: Cross between a silver laced Wyandotte chicken and Buff Cochin
- Partridge: Cross between a Buff Wyandotte and Partridge Cochin.
- Colombian: Cross between a barred Plymouth Rock and a White Wyandotte.
These varieties are recognized in Great Britain with the addition of White, Buff laced, Red, and Barred Wyandottes. If you are looking for a relatively smaller breed, the bantam variety is the perfect fit.
Behavior and Personality of Wyandotte Chicken
Wyandotte chickens are docile and some of the friendliest birds to keep in your backyard. They enjoy interacting with other birds and pass the time quite well foraging. As much as they prefer foraging and free-ranging, they do quite well too in confinement.
On this note, it is recommended to provide the birds with both situations. Keeping them in coops will help protect them from extreme weather, and allowing them to roam around the backyard will allow them to forage and access tasty bugs that they so love.
Wyandotte chickens are relatively calm and easy to get along with other members of the flock. However, they can get cranky and may not interact with chickens that like to be at the top of the pecking order. Wyandotte chickens can be quite dominant and do not take bullying lightly.
They are likely to brush on each other, chasing after seeds, bugs, and other critters in your backyard. Even so, these birds are not prone to hurrying when foraging. They will take the time to roam and patrol at their own pace without worrying about what the other members are doing.
Wyandotte chickens are great pets; however, they are not particularly the best lap chicken. They are not aggressive either but enjoy their own space without having too much attention directed to them. On this note, they will not enjoy being cuddled and would rather just stay on their own. Not to worry, they will not go after your children and pets.
It takes quite a lot of disturbance to get a Wyandotte chicken upset, and this makes them popular exhibitions or 4H birds. More to this, they are known to be top award-winners in shows too, owing to their calm personality and beautiful appearance.
Wyandotte Chicken Productivity
People keep Wyandotte chickens for various reasons, but one of the most common is their egg and meat production. How good are they on that, though? Here is a quick rundown on the type of productivity you should expect while keeping Wyandotte chickens.
Wyandotte chickens do exceptionally well in laying egg production, which is why most people keep them. They lay about 200 large eggs each year and do not stop laying during the winter months. Most chicken breeds pause when temperatures drop, which is a problem that you will not have to deal with when keeping Wyandottes.
On average, each Wyandotte chicken will lay about four medium to large brown eggs each week. This is quite exceptional compared with other popular breeds, making Wyandottes fruitful as egg-laying birds. Most dual-purpose birds are poor in laying consistently, but with Wyandottes, you have the best of both worlds. You will have eggs all year while growing it for meat later on.
As mentioned, Wyandotte chickens are dual-purpose. They are commonly raised for meat in equal measure as egg production. It is an old-fashioned chicken breed, which explains why it takes longer to reach table weight. However, Most Wyandottes will be ready to eat at around four months of age.
At this age, obviously, the meat will be tender and smaller than if you leave the chicken to grow out a little more. If you enjoy rich, mature meat, then you can wait till eight months. It is important to note that after eight months, the meat will start to get tough and stringy, requiring you took it longer.
Unlike most dual-purpose chicken breeds, Wyandottes are not overly fatty. In fact, they are quite lean compared to Orpingtons, which are relatively tasty and less fatty. On this note, the carcass is full and will yield a lot of meat for your family.
Even with the exceptional meat production, Wyandotte chickens require consistent care and attention for reasonable yield. Remember, how you feed your chickens plays a significant role in the amount of meat they will produce once slaughtered. On this note, leave the chickens to free-range and eat natural foods. This will lead to a leaner and tastier carcass.
Raising Wyandotte Chicken
Wyandotte hens are incredibly broody and are known to be some of the most reliable sitters among backyard chickens. On this note, they often rest on fertile eggs, mostly lasting until the chicks hatch. They go broody often, and once the eggs hatch, they make amazing mothers raising their chicken exceptionally well.
If you start with Wyandotte chicks, there is not much that is expected from you to raise them. You only need to provide the essential care that you would give to other chicks of any breed. As they grow, Wyandottes will need a basic laying feed. You can get a balanced feed for layers in your local mill; just be sure it is recommended for large breeds of chicken.
As much as the amount of feed you give does not matter, be careful not to overfeed, especially if you are raising roosters in the flock. This is because too much calcium- usually present in laying feed can cause kidney or liver problems in roosters.
Therefore, start with minimal feed once or twice a day and evaluate if it is enough for the number in your flock. Also, keep in mind that you need to let them free-range and forage, which is essential when raising Wyandottes.
Remember, Wyandottes are relatively larger birds and, therefore, will need more space per bird compared to smaller breeds. Also, a bit more area is essential to prevent riding and fighting, especially if you have a mixed flock. The bare minimum space per bird should be at least two square feet in a coop with other chicken breeds.
If you are raising Wyandotte chickens only, then it is advisable to provide about four to five square feet per bird in the coop. If you are keeping them out in the open, then consider about ten to twelve square feet per bird for adequate space to roam and play. The more space you can provide, the better it is.
When building your coop, ensure you provide adequate ventilation but also free from excessive drafts. Create a balance between the two to ensure they stay cool during the hotter months and comfortable during the winter months.
Wyandotte chickens are good layers, so you want to provide adequate nesting boxes in your coop. Provide bigger nesting boxes than other breeds considering Wyandottes are larger and bulkier. Also, nesting boxes will encourage them to go broody and probably hatch chicks.
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Benefits of Breeding Wyandotte Chickens
One of the major benefits of keeping Wyandotte chickens is how versatile they are. They adapt quickly to any climate as long as you provide them with a favorable coop and food supply. They are incredibly hardy during the winter, such that they continue laying eggs consistently. The heavyweight and bulky feathering keep them warm and comfortable in winter.
When it gets warmer, the chickens still remain comfortable. However, you need to ensure the coop is properly-ventilated if you intend to keep them in confinement. If yours are backyard chickens, then providing adequate shade on your garden is advisable.
Another feature that makes them hardy during the winter is the rose comb. It does much better at cold temperatures and is less prone to frostbite when temperatures hit low. Also, the comb has less flesh exposed to cold air keeping them chickens free from frostbite.
Another benefit of keeping Wyandotte chickens is how well they do in confinement as well as outside. They do not mind staying in a coop and also enjoy foraging out in the open. As heavy birds, they are less likely to fly away and escape making them great backyard chickens.
Wyandotte chickens are excellent at productivity, both for eggs and meat. With an average of 200 larger brown eggs per year, these birds can provide an adequate supply of eggs for your family. Also, they go broody really well, which is an essential factor is you intend to grow your flock. For meat, they grow really fast, and the meat is lean and tasty hence an excellent bird for fantastic chicken meat.
They are cost-effective and do not require a huge investment to grow and breed. One, you do not need an incubator as they are great brooders. You just need a Wyandotte hen and rooster to grow your flock.
Challenges of Raising Wyandotte Chickens
Like with other breeds, there are a few challenges that come with keeping Wyandotte chickens. One, the personality of Wyandotte chickens, can be quite overwhelming to deal with the first time you interact with some. Although quite shy when you first meet them, they can be quite chatty in just a few hours of settling in.
On this note, they will make noise all day and not just when laying eggs. And, this is not only the Wyandotte hen but the rooster too. Roosters make pronounced crowing noises all the time. Of course, all chickens make some sort of noise, but Wyandotte chickens are known to be louder and more vocal.
Wyandottes can be challenging to introduce to an existing flock of chickens. They can be quite dominant and might face a hard time trying to adapt the first few days. Pay attention to the behavior or the Wyandotte chickens as well as the other member of the flock. Remember, Wyandottes are bossy and will want to take up space. Also, they will not take kindly to being pushed around, so a fight here and there might occur.
One other challenge of keeping Wyandottes is keeping them comfortable during the summer. They have a fluffy and full plumage, which can leave them a little too hot in extreme summer. They are well-suited for cold climates, but with a ventilated coop and adequate shade outside, they should adapt well. Also, ensure you provide fresh, clean, cold water at all times during the summer.
Health Concerns with Wyandotte Chickens
Wyandottes are robust and hardy in any condition. They do not have major health issues specific to them, but like other chickens, there are a few things you should keep in mind as far as their health goes. One, they like foraging, and if you keep yours outside, they are prone to parasites. The fluffy plumage can be an excellent breeding site for parasites, so you should keep that in check.
On this note, you should provide a dust bath from time to time to control parasites. Also, as you would with other members of your flock, you need to deworm regularly to keep them free from internal parasites. If necessary, you can provide vaccinations as per your zone or climate.
The rose comb of the Wyandotte chickens makes them adaptable to clod climate, so you do not have to worry about frostbite during the winter. As mentioned, they do well in the winter and can stand confinement quite well.
The Bottom Line
The calm, easy-going personality of the Wyandotte chicken makes it a perfect addition to any backyard flock. It is not only a hardy chicken but an exceptional layer, not forgetting its full body for meat production.
In addition to its beauty, the Wyandotte chicken is super easy to care for and raise. Also, they are great to show birds and make fantastic family pets. If you are looking for a balance between beauty, productivity, and calmness, the Wyandotte chicken is the best choice.