Silver Laced Wyandotte: Egg Production, Temperament and More…

Silver Laced Wyandotte Egg Production, Temperament and More Blog Cover

The creation of the Wyandotte breed came about from the desire to have a chicken breed that was suitable as an ‘all-rounder’ – that is for both eggs and table fare.

Wyandotte’s are good layers of light to dark brown eggs averaging about 200 eggs/year.

Of course, other colors came along later, but the Silver Laced Wyandotte was the first and arguably the prettiest of the Wyandotte breed.

In this article we discuss the history of the Silver Laced Wyandotte, its temperament, egg production and crucially, if it’s the right hen for you.

The History of Silver Laced Wyandottes

The Wyandotte is one of Americas’ oldest and most well-known and loved breeds. It is unusual in that it was really the first American chicken ‘created’ with dual purpose in mind.

Early Americans had many different breeds providing them with eggs and meat, but no one breed provided both well. All chickens had been brought over from Britain and Europe so there were several different breeds available, but none had been specifically bred to fit the needs of the early settlers and homesteaders.

Originally the bird that would become the Wyandotte was called the American Sebright, Sebright Cochin or Mooney.

These birds had been mentioned as far back as 1873 and were found over much of the US after the Civil War, however there is little or no information that I have been able to find about this ‘proto’ bird.

To add to the confusion the Sebright as known in England, is a bantam, not a full size bird, nor is it in any way related.

Silver Laced Wyandottes: The Creation

Silver Laced Wyandotte 1Four men – H.M. Doubleday, J. Ray, L. Whittaker and F. Houdlette were the innovators of their time. They sought to create a bird that was truly a utility bird providing both meat and eggs to the average American family with minimal cost.

They worked separately in Michigan and upstate New York to try and perfect the Mooney bird.

In the early specimens there was rose comb and single comb varieties, but when the breed was admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1883, rose comb was the desired ‘standard’.

Although the exact origins of the Silver Laced Wyandotte are unknown, genetic material from the dark Brahmas and silver spangled Hamburgs are likely contributors. Also possible contributors to the genetic pool were Breda and Polish fowl.

The name of the bird – the Wyandotte – was an acknowledgement of an Indian tribe – the Wyandot – who had originally befriended and helped the settlers in upstate New York and Ontario, Canada. It was suggested by Fred Houdlette in honor of his fathers’ boat, which had also been named in honor of the tribe.

When poultry farming became ‘industrialized’ in the mid twentieth century, the Wyandotte were cast aside as not productive enough. It did not produce eggs in sufficient quantity nor did it put on meat quickly enough for it to be profitable.

Over the years the number of Wyandottes declined steeply and it became an endangered breed in its own country – the US.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Show HenThe Silver Laced Wyandotte was listed as a ‘priority’ breed by the ALBC until 2016 when it was removed because numbers had recovered enough to warrant an upgrade.

This is yet another breed that was threatened by the almost meteoric rise of the ‘industrial’ hen. Thankfully, thousands of backyard keepers fell in love with this beautiful bird and gave it a second chance.

Sadly, its’ sister bird, the white Wyandotte has not enjoyed such a resurgence in popularity and remains critically endangered.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Standard and Appearance

In total the American Poultry Association recognizes nine varieties of the large fowl and ten bantam varieties.

The Silver Laced Wyandotte were admitted to the American Standard in 1883, the first of the Wyandotte varieties to do so.

The many varieties of Wyandotte were admitted as follows:

  • 1883 – silver laced
  • 1888 – gold laced, white
  • 1893 – buff, partridge, black
  • 1902 – silver penciled
  • 1905 – colombian
  • 1977 – blue

The birds are somewhat round and fluffy. All the fluffiness helps to keep the hen warm through the cold winter months. They are a medium weight bird with the rooster weighing in at 8.5lb and a hen at 6.5lb.

Silver Laced WyandotteThe bird has a fairly ‘curvy’ shape with a short but well arched neck. This leads down into a short but broad back on a medium length bird. The saddle rises up giving a slightly ‘U’ shaped silhouette. The body is broad and deep, well rounded, almost voluptuous.

Eyes are a reddish bay color and deeply set.

Legs, toes, beaks and skin are all yellow. The legs are short and stout, widely placed for perfect balance. There are four toes to each foot.

Comb, wattles, earlobes and face should all be a vibrant red. The bird has a rose comb which is highly useful in cold, frosty climates. It is much better at tolerating frost and freezing than a more pronounced comb is.

Some of the problems associated with these birds have been narrow backs, undersized chicks and poor hatches. In fact, the two latter problems are both significant contributors to the scarcity of the White Wyandotte.

It has been noted that there are significant differences in color tones between the UK and US birds.

Disposition and Egg Laying

Wyandottes are said to be of good temperament, although some can have strong personalities making them seem aloof. They are a friendly bird but not ‘cuddly’ and can be quite talkative, although this can vary greatly from bird to bird.

They are usually fairly dominant with other birds so are often near or at the top of the pecking order. They don’t appear to bully other birds but are assertive and are seldom bullied.

As for egg laying, they are reasonable layers averaging around 200 light to dark brown eggs each year.

They make great mothers and are prone to being broody which many folks find undesirable since they don’t want or can’t have more chicks. Also, the desire to be broody cuts down on egg production quite significantly. Several people use them to hatch eggs from breeds that aren’t good at being moms or being broody.

Silver Laced Wyandotte ChicksThey tolerate confinement well but are good foragers when allowed to free range.

The Wyandotte has copious, gorgeous feathers making it suitable for colder climates such as the upper Mid-West states, Canada and the Northern New England states. It will tolerate warmer weather, but needs to have shade readily available and of course plenty of cool water.

The bird is known as a rose-combed bird, which is ideal for colder climates as they will not easily get frost-bitten as the comb sits much closer to the skull. Occasionally, you will find a Wyandotte with a single comb, but these specimens are not recognized by the APA and should not be used for breeding.

Average life expectancy seems to range between 6 – 12 years depending on the line of the birds.

They are not prone to any unusual chicken ailments. Since they have thick, dense feathering, lice and mites can be a problem if not checked on regularly.

All that fluffiness at the back end can lead to some poopy feathers, so the occasional trim may be necessary to keep them clean and tidy. If mating is a problem you may need to trim the feathers to help facilitate fertilization.

Is The Silver Laced Wyandotte Right For You?

The places that Wyandottes do very well are in 4H projects and the show ring – especially in the mid-West states.

Actually, the Wyandottes are popular show birds in the UK, Europe and Australia too!

Generally the Wyandotte is a calm and tolerant bird, which makes for an easily handled and compliant bird. This is very important in the 4H arena where the birds are generally raised by youngsters, so this makes them an ideal ‘beginner’ bird.

Birds need to have a ‘bomb proof’ demeanor for the show ring. They must endure being caged all day in close proximity to strange birds. They need to be able to handle the stress of being picked up, prodded and judged – not sure I would have the temperament for all that, but Wyandottes seem to take it in their stride!

As a backyard hen, they are quite placid and certainly beautiful to look at. As we have mentioned, they are good with children so are well suited for a family with children.

This breed is ideal for you if you’re looking for a strong yet docile breed that lays well.

Summary

If you have a mixed flock, consider adding a few of these beautiful birds. They are beautiful ‘eye candy’ and pretty low maintenance hens.

If you are just starting out and want a pretty and productive flock that people are sure to admire, the Silver Laced Wyandotte is a real contender.

They may not be as prolific egg producers as the sex links, but 200 eggs/year is not a bad rate of lay for a small family concern.

The fact that they lay throughout the winter months may be the clincher for you since many other breeds slow production or stop completely during the hardest months.

Do you already have some Silver Laced Wyandottes? Let us know in the comments section below about your experience with them…

Comments

  1. Lee says

    Unfortunately, we had to give away ours SLW because not only was she at the top if the pecking order but nearly killedbone if our Buff Orpington. I liked her but could not have this situation.

    I know this doesn’t relate to this subject but in short, I have abBuff Orp who will not get out of her broodiness. I’ve done everything that has been suggested and managed it twice before but it’s been two months, she is in the nesting box 24/7 except when I bring her out to the run or for supervised free ranging. She won’t stay on the roost when I place her there. Any suggestions. I don’t want to have fertilized eggs so it’s an all hen coop. Should I just put a box in coop or run to let her lay in it all day long as one of my Americaunas is getting a little bullish with her. Any advice will be appreciated. Don’t want to give her away as she is my sweetist hen. Thanks!

    • E Watson says

      We had a broody Bardrock and could not brake her. One day when I cleaned the hen house, I also changed out the two nesting box’s, to smaller ones. I guess she didn’t like that at all because she stopped sitting on the nest all day. ??

    • Loren Bradshaw says

      I use a dog crate lifted off the ground so the hen gets air flow under her. I keep her in there for a few days at least. If she goes back to the nest when I let her out then she goes back in the crate. The longest I’ve had a hen in the crate is a week. This seems to break their broodiness quite well. Just make sure it’s lifted off the ground or she’ll just brood in the crate.

  2. Lori says

    I have 3 golden laced and 1 silver laced. They are ok. The one golden laced seems to be broody often very annoying

  3. Mavis says

    Thank you for your write on the Silver Wyandotte breed, I received 7 Golden Wyandotte prior to winter an it was pleasing to have them lay throughout our cold wet winter, already I have found one to be very broody, reassuring to hear it is breed trait

  4. Michael Quest says

    Thank you for an excellent Post very informative indeed, I am considering breeding Gold laced Wyandottes on a small scale in my backyard.
    Regards,
    Michael
    New Zealand.

  5. Brandi Hayes says

    We have a beautiful one! 21 weeks old. New mixed flock of 5 mixed breeds. She is at the bottom of pecking order, with her black laced red Wyandotte friend. They seem small, compared to the other 3 we have. Also have one each: Partridge Rock, Ameracauna, and a Gold Sexlink. All about 19-22 weeks old.

  6. Elizabeth Marsey says

    My year old chickens are keeping my 16 week old Wyandotte from eating. How can o fix this without seperating them. Now 16 week wyndottes are breaking eggs cause they are hungry. What to do

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Elizabeth,

      How many feeders do you have? You could try spacing out your feeders to stop the bullying.

      Claire

  7. Laurie says

    I had a very besutiful SLW. Unfortunately she died at 2 years of age from stress. She was at the bottom of the pecking order (no. 4) and she died the day after I moved their coop. Very stressful for a chicken. I miss her.

  8. Paula says

    We have 2 silver laced wyandottes 4 months old and just started laying eggs. Not cuddily but they will chatter with you the entire time you are outside, and follow you around. We recently added 2 ISA browns, and the SLW definitely are on top of the pecking order; did not realize how big they are until compared to the browns!

  9. Anna says

    My SLWs just started laying and the eggs are quite small. Will they get bigger or is this the size I should expect?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Anna,

      As they mature over the next several months the egg size will continue to increase 🙂

      Claire

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