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Barnevelder Chicken: What You Need To Know Before Buying

Barnevelder Chicken

Barnevelder Chicken, or ‘Barnies’ as they are affectionately known, are relative newcomers to the world of chickens.

That hasn’t held them back though, they have a firm following, and rightly so. They are low-maintenance hen with a fun personality and good looks!

Once the darling of the Dutch egg industry, the Barnevelder now finds favor with many small flock keepers as a dual purpose hen.

In this article, we will discuss the different varieties of Barnevelders, their temperament, and of course, their beautiful chocolate-colored eggs.

Background and History of the Barnevelder

Despite being a relatively recent addition to the chicken family, the exact genetic make-up of this lovely bird is a bit murky.

Barneveld, east of Utrecht, is home to a large agricultural college specializing in poultry. As such, the area became the hub of the poultry industry in the early twentieth century.

The area was known for supplying eggs to Europe, and the egg supply market was huge. England wanted brown shelled eggs at that time, so it became necessary to make a bird that laid dark brown eggs so the farmers could keep up with demand.

The original birds of the area were likely ‘landrace’ and other older local breeds that had lived in the area for a long time. With the arrival of Oriental birds, the local poultry folk started cross-breeding their hens with different imported fowl.

Langshans were certainly used in the mix, Malays and Brahmas’ too. In 1898 Gold Laced Wyandottes were added to the mix, but there was still a lot of variety in various Barnevelder lines.

Barnevelder Chicken

A note here to say that different people have some different ideas of the genetic mixture – there is no true consensus of the lineage.

As a result, efforts were made to bring conformity, and the Barneveld Breeders Association was formed. This did much to help with the problem, and in 1923 the breed was finally standardized.

Barnevelder Chicken

Appearance of Barnevelders

Barnevelder hens express a beautiful patterning on their feathers, a brown feather with double black lacing to produce an ‘arrowhead’ effect.

It is a simple but stunning design, I think. The neck feathers are black with no patterning.

Barnevelder Chicken Apperance
Barnevelder Pullet

The genetics to get this effect are quite complex, and the rooster does not have this pattern.

The male is a melanistic black-breasted red color, and despite many people trying for double lacing on the roosters’ chest, it has never happened.

The Barnevelder can be described as a rectangular body shape, compact with a U- shaped back. Their wings are high on the body, so the bird does not fly well.

Their neck is slightly arched, the tail carried at a perky 50 degrees with a moderate feather spread. The plumage is described as ‘tight.’

As for their comb is a single variety with 5 points; comb, wattles, and ear lobes are red. The eye is a red bay in color, and the beak is horn colored.

Skin and legs are yellow with four toes to each foot.

The Barnevelder is a large bird, hens weigh around 5-6lb, and roosters weigh in around 7-8lb.

Barnevelder Chicken

Barnevelder Breed Standard

It took a long time to standardize this breed; they finally accepted it to the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1923. It is classified as a soft feathered, heavy breed.

The American Poultry Association recognized the double laced Barnevelder in 1991. They classify it as ‘continental.’

The only variety standardized in Holland is the double laced.

The original colors were partridge and double laced. Sadly, it is believed that the partridge variety may now be extinct.

There are now several different colors available:

  • Double Laced Silver
  • Double Laced Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Silver Blue
  • Chamois

Barnevelders are also available as bantams, but they are not easily obtainable from breeders. The bantams are not recognized in the standard. You should note that the APA does not recognize the above colors, and also, many of the newer colors have ‘bleeding’ problems which can ruin the look of the bird.

Egg Laying and Temperament of the Barnevelder

Barnevelder Chicken

The Barnevelder will give you 3-4 large brown eggs each week. The eggs are said to be dark chocolate and occasionally speckled.

I have never seen ‘chocolate’ colored eggs from mine, but the eggs are a dark brown with occasional speckles.

They will lay through the winter, so this makes them quite popular with some folks.

The hens are not known for being particularly broody.

Over the years of development, the color quality of the egg has suffered.

Time and effort have been put into the plumage, but the egg coloring has diminished from a chocolate color to the more common dark or even light brown seen today.

As with other breeds, those made to produce more eggs will have lighter colored eggs; Marans, for example.

Disposition and Temperament

Barneys is a very easygoing bird, and they rarely squabble with anyone; even the roosters are known to be calm.

The Barnevelder is an amiable bird. They are always pleased to see you and will greet you with low-key chattiness.

They talk quite a bit, but their voice is low and quiet, unlike Rhode Island Reds, who like to shout!

Barnevelders are active birds. They love to free-range and excel at it. You can easily tame them to be pets if you start at an early age, and since they are docile, gentle, and definitely kid-friendly.

Known Health Issues

In general, Barnevelders are robust birds with minimal health issues. They tolerate a wide variety of climates and take it all in their stride.

They don’t enjoy hot and humid so much, but they will do quite well if they have shade and water available.

Allegedly they are highly prone to Marek’s Disease and should therefore be vaccinated at birth.

Other than the usual suspects (lice, mites, etc.), the Barnevelder is pretty much problem-free health-wise.

Is the Barnevelder Chicken Right for You?

The Barnevelder is a delightfully gentle and inquisitive bird, eminently suitable for a family flock.

They will tolerate confinement well but really enjoy free-ranging for goodies. They are very friendly and love to help you with garden tasks such as weeding!

Mine is always the first flock to run and greet me when I appear in the yard.

They are great with kids, and if you start them very young, you can make ‘pets’ out of them; the chickens, not the kids!

It would be hard to find a more even-tempered bird; I have never seen mine be objectionable to another hen. They are full of life and rarely have a down day. Their attitude is infectious, and you will find them lifting your spirits with their happiness.

As show birds, they do well since their demeanor is unflappable, and they are tolerant of a wide variety of conditions.

They also do well as 4H or farm project birds for the younger farmers.

Barnevelder Chicken Breed Summary

Barneys are delightful birds – they always greet you and make you feel loved. They are a great addition to any flock, although more assertive breeds can pick on them.

They are a good dual-purpose hen, non-aggressive, and they usually get along with everyone.

Some sources list them as ‘rare,’ however. I would disagree and say that the double-laced birds are uncommon but not rare.

In fact, the double-laced Barnevelder is enjoying a resurgence of popularity currently!

Do you keep Barnevelders? Let us know your experience with them in the comments section below…

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Barnevelder Chicken What You Need To Know Before Buying

32 thoughts on “Barnevelder Chicken: What You Need To Know Before Buying

  1. Great story about those birds. I already have seven chickens and their buff orpingtons but they sound very similar in personality that’s why I picked buff orpingtons. I have never heard of barnevelder chickens before this article.

  2. I got some chicks and they’re just 4 months old now. Really nice, pretty birds … I enjoy birds that are laid back enough to be considered ‘pets’.

  3. This is a very good story about these birds. I have got two them. And are doing well. I don’t get dark egg like you talk about. But I will keep a eye on this. Thanks for the info.

  4. where or what is an address of whom sells the Barnies? I am sure a lot of folks would appreciate this information

    1. There are a few hatcheries that sell them, you would have to check online to see who is near you, 🙂

  5. I have 9 Barnevelder Hens, The are great fun,they are beautiful birds,can’t wait until they start laying.I think i have about 2 more months to go. love them. judy

  6. I recently got 3 Barnie pullets and they are an utter delight!! They are becoming tame very quickly, are chilled out, confident and happy birds as well as beautiful. Really looking forward to watching them develop and sharing our front garden with them!

  7. I have a young barnevelder rooster, and he is not very nice to strangers. He attacks my landlady – who hasn’t done anything to him. But he had a mongoose on its back last week after it tried to attack his ladies…so I love him!

  8. We love our pet and so do the neighbors. She is free range and loves it. She sleeps in a tree at night. Her best friend is a neighbors dog. She has not laid an egg yet. She is five months old, so we are on the lookout for her first egg.

  9. My Barnevelders started laying yesterday. So exciting to see the brown speckled egg. They do take longer to lay than some other breeds. Similar in temperament to Buff Orpintons. So far, I’m very happy with these Barnevelders.

  10. Superb Article on Barnvelders. I have a tiny flock of pullets and look forward at trying to develop some darker eggs. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I have 2 Barnvelder hens, and 1 is broody. I am so worried about her. She lays on all the other hens eggs until I remove them and her. She growls at me and puffs out her feathers. How can I help her? Thank you!

    1. I have a buff that goes broody once a year and that’s when I add babies to my flock. Works great!

  12. I have four silver laced Barnevelders
    Alchemist farm and garden 8n Sabastapol sells them . Gorgeous birds. , thank you for such a lovely article

  13. I have two double silver laced barnvelders…they are roosters…they are very sweet so far but not fully grown yet. I think they may be bantams bc they are so small compared to my other rooster who is a Wellsummer. They are even smaller than the hen that they hatched with! Do I have to give them up is the question when I integrate them all with 4 new hens who are a couple weeks older and a little bigger than them.

  14. I just got 3 Barnevelder chicks at TSC. They are already adorable. Straight run so have no idea what I have, but I am hoping for 2 girls and a boy!

  15. We have a nice flock of Barnevelders. I got them originally because our family is from that area of the Netherlands where they were developed. Ours came from Cackle Hatchery. We have had 2 successful broody hens. Our eggs tend to be a medium to light brown with good freckles,

  16. I got 5 barnevelders from Family Farm And Home. Very sweet birds. So far they like me. Just moved them out to the coop. Very nice birds!

  17. My Barnevelders are anything but sweet or nice. They peck at every opportunity, pecking either me or one of the other hens. One has assumed the role of alpha female and has no problem of removing the toe nail or claw from another bird. They can be extremely raucous if they are not let out of their large enclosure on a fine day.

  18. We got a mixed flock of chicks in April. I’m glad we got them all at the same time. The 2 Barnies get along well with the 2 Australorps, 3 Novagens and 2 Easter Eggers that we got at the same time. They have a deep raspy voice, unlike the Australorps. We had an older Australorp hen hatch some adopted fertile eggs. We have 2 roos out of the batch. At 17 weeks old, the Barnies are 7 weeks older than the roos and they are always putting the roos in their place. They will not back down at all. It’s actually fun to watch. When one of the roos was picking on Tiger Lily (a 17 week old novagen) who is the most gentle and gets along with everyone, the Barnies made sure that Oliver paid for his transgression! Though they don’t particularly like to be held they love getting treats and will gladly eat out of our hand. They are definitely the alpha hens in our flock but they aren’t mean (except to Oliver….they really don’t like him very much…though they seem better with Andy).

  19. I have been reading you post for several years. would love to purchase some chickens you show case but do not know where I can buy them can you help me out with that info. I would really love to get some of the Barnevelder.

    1. Hey Linda – If you have a tractor or ranch/farm store in your area they always have chickens in the spring. You will have to be able to home them in a protected area until they are feathered. You can also post on a local Facebook group (i.e. Anytown Local Community Page) asking if anyone has chickens they are selling or giving away. In this way you can generally get pullets (adolescents) that are ready to go into the yard or coop and need less coddling.
      It would be easier to get SPECIFICALLY Barnvelder Lace chickens online and shipped when they are ready. Some sites that we have used for our farm over the years are Cackle Hatchery and Valley Farms. I have read good things about Stromberg’s too. I think the Happy Chicken Coop has an article about ordering them online if you search. You can also do a general search online and get some good articles about the top hatcheries to buy from. If you do some basic research you should be good to go. Pros of buying online is to be able to get certain breeds. Buying from your local ranch and home store means the chicks are less stressed when you get them (usually) and you might be able to wait a little and get them when they are slightly older. I have truly had great success trading chickens on the local Facebook group. I don’t eat meat and I can’t abide killing my own chickens. Just can’t. So I have given my old ladies away on the local group also.

  20. My two Dutch Barnevelders are my very favorite hens! They have gone broody on me every year and they are now five years old. I don’t mind….having baby chicks with a mama hen is so easy and natural. Very little work for me! I highly recommend them!

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