The Black Star chicken is a relatively recent addition to the backyard chicken world.
This breed was created to lay a huge amount of eggs to satisfy the grocery needs of the expanding population in the 1950s. However these days you are most likely to find them on homesteads.
Keep reading to learn more about this little beautiful hen, and find out if it is suitable for your backyard.
History and Background of Black Star Chickens
The Black Star chicken was created not long after the 2nd World War ended (1945).
It wasn’t long before many of the troops started to arrive home and refugees were heading for America to make a new start in life. Some foods were already rationed, so the influx of people really stretched resources quite thinly.
In order to help combat this, poultry scientists were crossing and re-crossing various breeds to try and make the hens into super layers. The Black Star was one of the breeds created of this time. The crossing of the Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island or New Hampshire male was a blessed marriage.
The hens not only performed very well in egg laying trials (by laying consistent large quantities), but it was also sex-linked.
What does that mean exactly?
Black sex linked chicks are produced by two separate breeds. The breeds are usually a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster mated with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen.
The combination of the sex genes from the parents produce all black female chicks and the males are all black but have a white spot on the head.
There is no mistaking the sex of these chicks upon their arrival! Because of this, they are also known as Black Beauty or black sex links.
Since those times the Black Star hasn’t looked back – she remains one of the most prolific egg laying hens and a backyard favorite.
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They are a medium sized chicken with roosters weighing around 7-8lbs each and hens around 5lbs. They have a single comb which is red, as are the wattles and ear lobes.
In plumage, the appearance of the boys and girls is striking. The hens will feather out with mainly black feather with the occasional gold flecking mainly on the breast area.
The Black Star roosters will feather out somewhat like Barred Rocks, there is no mistaking a rooster for a hen with this breed! The legs of both sexes are clean and yellow in color with four toes to each foot.
They have an upright carriage, with a tail held at a perky high angle. The outline is somewhat rectangular in shape.
The Black Star is a hybrid so there is no standard of perfection for this chicken. If you breed two together you will not get a Black Star chick – what you will have is a different hybrid.
This little egg superstar is a docile and very hardy little bird. It is adaptable, thrifty and low maintenance since they can adapt to local conditions, be it hot, cold or in between.
They are friendly and curious and can be cuddly if you raise them so. They are also good with children.
In general they are quiet birds with a sweet disposition, only raising their voices when singing the egg song.
They love to forage if allowed, but they adapt very well to confinement too. They are not a nervous or flighty breed so they live together peaceably for the most part.
Eggs, Broodiness and Feeding
The Black Star will lay around 5 eggs per week (250+ per year)! A lovable egg machine, the Star lays eggs that are brown and large to extra-large in size.
They are not known for being broody although one will occasionally set but generally they are not reliable setters.
As they are a production hen they are only ‘built to last’ in extreme egg laying for about two years. Any offspring will not breed true – remember, they are a product of two different breeds. If you hatch the eggs you will get a ‘mutt’ chick not a Black Star (more on this later).
They also have a great feed conversion ratio (FCR) too!
What’s that I hear you ask?
Well, the simplest way I can put it is how much feed did the hen need to eat in order to give you X number of eggs in a given period.
Now admittedly it’s a bit silly doing an FCR on our backyard hens, but large poultry enterprises use this to judge how thrifty hens are and then pass the information down to us chicken people.
If you are a hardcore homesteader you will appreciate knowing the FCR, but if you have 2 hens in your yard for pleasure, you don’t much care because you love them.
Known Health Issues
For the most part, Black Stars are remarkably healthy and robust. They will tolerate cold and heat as long as they have shelter and food.
The Star, like many other production hens has a tendency to suffer from reproductive issues – egg yolk peritonitis, egg binding and cancer. These problems usually start showing up after one year of age; sadly this is to be expected as nature never intended that their system would be in constant production.
Is The Black Star Chicken Right For You?
The Black Star is a very suitable chicken for the backyard. As we already noted they can tolerate confinement well enough and as long as they have the required ‘chicken space’ they will thrive.
If you can free range them they will do a good job of removing unwanted pests from your garden but be sure to fence off areas where you don’t want them to be otherwise you may find your garden destroyed.
A couple of these industrious hens will keep a family in eggs very nicely, in fact you may be giving eggs away!
They are a quiet, docile breed which makes them good for kids to interact with and a blessing for your neighbors.
If you have raised them as cuddly pets they will reciprocate with cuddles and lap sitting and can become very tame indeed.
Black Stars are one of the most inexpensive chicks you can buy, coming in at around $3.00. Since they are quite common and the hatcheries breed lots of them every year, the price has remained remarkably low for some time.
The Black Star is a very nice bird for urban or suburban yards – they are quiet, productive and friendly.
They really don’t require a huge amount of area to roam in and as we already mentioned, two hens will supply an abundance of eggs for the family.
Although are known to be a dual purpose hen, not too many folks actually use the meat from the bird.
So there you have the Black Star – a product of the 1950s and still going strong!
Do you keep these superstars in your flock? Let us know in the comments section below…