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Wyandotte chickens : the Sophia Loren of the poultry world.
Glamorous, showy, stately, a bit of a diva - but will Wyandottes fit into your family and your backyard?
Wyandotte chickens are one of the prettiest, showiest looking breeds of the poultry world. If they were a person they'd be a film star diva.
So if you're thinking
of starting out with them, or adding them to your existing backyard
flock, we hope our at-a-glance guide will help you make the decision.
A pretty golden laced Wyandotte - one of the favourite featherings.
Here's what we cover : click on any of these links to go straight to that section.
They have a classic rounded shape, sometimes described as 'rotund'. We prefer to think of it as 'statuesque'.
Their feathering - just look at it. Often laced, always glamorous.
There are a total of seventeen known colours, including the most famous golden laced (see pic below), the original silver laced, silver pencilled, blue laced, lavender, buff, partridge, black and pure white.
They walk exactly as though they own the world with a confident, showy air, and a 'stately' gait. A bit like a model.
They have quite long, shapely legs with no feathering.
Their legs and feet are a classic yellow, comb and wattles are deep, glorious red.
As befits a diva the comb is not a 'normal' chicken comb. It should be a 'rose' shape - wide and flat, covered in little bumps. Very dignified.
Ideally, the comb should fit snugly to the head, following its contours to the back. Very 'now'.
Wyandottes are classed as a 'large' chicken breed; the average male will weigh around 8½ lbs and the female, 6lbs.
There's also a bantam variety which will weigh an average of 3lbs to 3¾ lbs.
This is a more unusual blue laced red Wyandotte, splash variety. This variety has white lacing - despite being called 'blue laced'. Gorgeous. Thank you to Liz Barrett for sharing this pic.
What a Wyandotte chick looks like.
Have a look at this short video of Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks when they're just a few days old. How cute are they?!
The personality of the Wyandotte chicken.
Like any self-respecting diva and in line with their showy physical appearance, Wyandottes can have strong personalities.
Generally calm and friendly, their strength of character can sometimes make them seem a bit aloof. Think Sophia Loren.
They love to talk - which film star doesn't - and once they start, find it hard to stop! Some people find them a bit noisy for that reason.
They're good foragers who prefer to free range.
They make very good mothers and will incubate eggs from another hen.
The Wyandotte is a truly American breed, originally named after a native American tribe called the 'Wendat'. The name was changed by settlers in the 19th Century.
The breed standard and diverse colourings and markings were created by crossing a number of breeds together over a number of years.
Those breeds included the Silver Sebright, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Cochins and Pekins.
The classic markings of the beautiful silver laced Wyandotte. Photo courtesy of Rob Wilson of Wilson's Wyandottes.
The very first Wyandotte was a Silver laced, bred in Wisconsin, USA. It remains one of the most popular and most attractive types.
The Wyandotte was accepted as a breed in the USA in 1883; it was not introduced into the UK until the 1890s.
It's now one of the most popular chicken breeds all over the world.
Are they good egg-layers?
Wyandottes are good egg layers, providing around 200 eggs per year.
Their eggs are a light to rich brown colour.
Wyandotte chickens : the good.
Although they do prefer to be able to range, they can deal with having less land than most other large chicken breeds.
Their feathers are loosely packed, which makes them look quite 'fluffy' and also helps them to deal very well with colder climates.
A beautiful Columbian Wyandotte, courtesy of Rob Wilson.
They look stunning!
Despite the fact that they can have quite strong personalities, they're considered a very good breed if you're just starting out with chickens.
Wyandotte chickens : things which may be problematic.
They have a tendency to go broody, although it's not as strong an urge in them as it is with, for example, Silkies.
The noise! Not everyone (sadly) likes the sound of chickens and if you live in an urban area and want to keep chickens in your back yard, you need to make sure your neighbours will be happy with the clucking!
Buff Wyandottes, courtesy of Rob Wilson of Wilson's Wyandottes.
What that all means - Wyandottes are for you if :
You're just starting out with chickens and you'd like a chicken with a strong personality.
You have some land, no matter if it's not huge, where you can allow the poultry to free range for at least part of the time.
You'd like a hen who will incubate eggs and care for little chicks very well.
You want a breed which is good for meat as well as eggs.
You shouldn't buy Wyandottes if :
You want a chicken as a cuddly pet to keep in an enclosed space.
You want a hen who will lay eggs but not go broody over them (although there are ways to stop a hen who's 'gone broody').
The showy silver pencilled Wyandotte, courtesy of Rob Wilson.
Wyandotte chickens : where to buy them.
As with any poultry, you need to make sure you buy from a reputable breeder. There are a lot of chickens out there described as a specific breed when they're actually a hybrid.
If you want chickens true to the breed, look out for the characteristics described above in the flock of the person you're buying from.
Make a judgement about the breeder. Someone who is producing good, healthy birds will talk enthusiastically - even passionately - about them.
Never buy from websites such as e-bay or Craigslist. There are
some genuine sellers there, but more who will sell you infertile eggs or
birds which are not the breed they're supposed to be.
The links below are a good start to contact breeders in America.
Outside America, look in poultry magazines for breeders local to you.
Links to useful Wyandotte resources :
Many of the photographs on this page are reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Rob Wilson, of Wilson's Wyandottes. They are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced elsewhere without Mr Wilson's expressed written permission.
His site is an excellent source of images of many different colours of Wyandottes.
Wyandotte Breeders of America is a thorough source of information about the Wyandotte breed. Other countries do also have specialist sites but they tend to be either not terribly informative, or out of date.
The Netherlands Wyandotte Club on Facebook is an extremely helpful and fun page, with gorgeous picture examples of the breed as well as advice about breeding and keeping generally. The posts are usually made in English as well as Dutch.
Here's what Claudia has to say about Wyandotte chickens.
"I like Wyandottes because, like me, they look spectacular. And, like me, they can be a bit on the bossy side. Well sometimes, you just have to be.
However they talk too much for my liking. That's not me at all. No sir. I very rarely even open my beak".
Please note : Although the characteristics above are common across the breed, not every chicken will conform to them. Chickens, like people, are individuals. You need to check with whoever you buy from - just ask about the kinds of physical and personality traits their flock has.
Looking for a chicken that's especially good for children? One of these may be just right for you.
Click on the pictures below to visit our page about Silkies or the Speckled Sussex - the good, the bad and the "oh please I have to have one"!
Some chickeny things you might like.
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