Beautiful feathering is just the start
Whether you are new to chicken keeping, or an experienced enthusiast, inevitably you’ll be hit with a case of “chicken math” and want to add some variety to your flock. Choosing from the literally hundreds of breeds of chickens can be a daunting task.
In addition to adding visual variety, the search for the ideal breed comes with many questions: What breeds are good for your climate? What is a good option for families? Do you want a bird that will free-range well or be content in an enclosed run? Will they breed true and do the hens make good mothers?
There are hundreds of breeds of chickens, but there is one that—time and again—meets almost all of the criteria people are looking for: the Wyandotte. These beautiful and popular birds make a perfect choice for most flocks. Let’s look at a few of the reasons why they are so popular.
An All-American heritage breed
The Wyandotte is known for being the first dual-purpose breed of chicken developed in the U.S. These heavy birds were originally called the “American Sebright” because of their silvery-white feathers outlined in black, and later re-named the Silver Laced Wyandotte.
As commercial farming increased, the Wyandotte fell out of favor and was considered rare, but with the rise in homesteading and backyard poultry keeping, their increased popularity has helped increase their numbers over the past few decades.
Beautiful varieties available
This breed’s feathers are the highlight of many flocks. Today there are many colors and varieties of Wyandottes presenting a wide range in feather pattern and color.
The Golden Laced Wyandotte was the second variety to be recognized. It is considered fairly rare, and is the closest in appearance to the original Silver Laced variety.
One of the newest and most popular varieties is the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. This variety is in high demand, selling out quickly at hatcheries across the U.S. over the past few years.
Other recognized varieties include the White, Black, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian—an all-white bird with a black barred tail and neck. Each variety has the full-bodied appearance of the breed and together the make a colorful and attractive flock.
They’re good, consistent layers
While the Wyandotte isn’t the best layer of all the breeds of poultry, they are good, consistent layers.
Wyandottes can average about 200 eggs per year—depending on the hen, variety, and environmental factors. Their good-sized eggs range from a light to medium brown color.
And cold-hardy fowl
The Wyandotte’s tight-fitting rose comb and large, rounded body make it an ideal breed for colder climates. Where Wyandottes pay off versus other breeds is in the colder months. Wyandotte hens will continue to lay when other breeds stop laying.
Chicken keepers can keep them laying even longer by providing this breed with some added light in the darker, winter months!
Who doesn’t love a good gab, even if it’s from a hen? Wyandottes are docile, chatty, and have trusting personalities making them popular a popular choice for families with children.
While they are considered friendly birds, they are known to be at the top of the pecking order in a flock and are rarely bullied. These easy-going birds do well in a flock of mixed breeds of poultry, and get along with other animals on a farm.
Another benefit to keeping them is they are not a flighty breed. A small fence is usually enough to keep them contained, and they don’t tend to wander far when allowed to free-range and forage.
Raise your own flock
As the popularity of keeping chickens and other poultry increases, so does the interest in raising and keeping a sustainable flock. Homesteaders across the U.S. are looking for breeds that breed true and are good, reliable birds to keep for generations.
As a breed that was bred and developed specifically in the U.S., it is well-suited for the climate and conditions here. A flock of heritage breed Wyandottes, no matter the variety, is an excellent choice for those wanting to raise subsequent generations of poultry on their property. Wyandotte hens are reliable setters and make excellent mothers to their young.
Dual-purpose but much loved
Of all the breeds of poultry, it’s easy to see why so many raise and keep Wyandotte chickens. It is truly the one breed that can be considered the best choice in most situations — beautiful varieties, good temperament, dual-purpose, perfect for backyards or homesteads, and they are an all-American breed.
What’s not to love? You really can’t go wrong with a Wyandotte.
About the author
Ginger Stevenson is a marketing professional from Johnston, Iowa. Ginger has several decades of experience writing for clients in the agricultural and the poultry industry, including McMurray Hatchery.
Why some chicken-keepers love Wyandottes