Any new chicken owner who does their research on best breed for beginners will undoubtably come across the Columbian Wyandotte. The Wyandotte is an American bird that first arrived on the scene in the 1870s. This American poultry staple made its first appearance in Chicago at the World Fair. The name, Wyandotte, comes from the Native American tribe, Wendat, even though there aren’t any specific ties between the chicken and the tribe. The Columbian Wyandotte is said to have originated from crossing a White Wyandotte with a Barred Plymouth Rock. Someone clearly knew what they were doing! The official Wyandotte breeders club can be found here.
The Columbian Wyandotte, unlike its laced counterparts, are mostly solid white with a distinguished “collar” of black feathers adorning its neck and black tail-feathers poking out amongst the white. The contrast of colors on this chicken is magnificent. Silver-laced varieties of the Wyandotte are breathtaking to behold with intricate feather outlining (lacing) over blue, silver, or gold. Some color variations even have blue-tinted legs. Because of the intricate lacing, the Wyandotte is my favorite yard ornament, even though she’s meant for much more.
Wyandottes have a round body and strut around the yard as if they are floating down the runway. It’s almost as if they know how beautiful they are. The Wyandotte’s feathers lay quite loosely on the bird’s body, thus giving her a fluffy round shape.
Wyandottes don a rose comb, which in all honesty, doesn’t look much lick a rose. It does, however, resemble one due to the bright red color and bubbled appearance of the comb. Rose combs lay flat, and very close to the chicken’s head, making them well-suited to withstand the windchills and frostbite in some of the colder regions.
As if their stately beauty wasn’t enough, they also come in fun-size! Bantams are the little brothers and sisters to their large counterparts. Many breeds come in both standard and bantam sizes.
The Wyandotte is a medium to large chicken that typically weighs in around 7 lbs, making it an excellent meat chicken for those looking for a dual-purpose breed. While they are a larger breed, and considered quite rotund, they are very graceful birds who carry themselves with dignity. Their loose feathers may also give the impression that they are larger than they are, so care must be taken to ensure they are not underfed due to their large appearance.
The Columbian Wyandotte certainly sings for her supper. On average, a healthy hen can lay around 200 – 250 eggs per year, and since they are very cold hardy, they can continue to lay during the winter months.
Their eggs range from a lovely light brown, that will occasionally have a pink tone to it, to a rich brown—think hot cocoa. Eggs are medium-sized, which makes them perfect for morning toast.
Columbian Wyandottes are large enough to be considered a dual-purpose chicken. However, a dressed Wyandotte should not be compared to a typical broiler, such as a Cornish cross. Cornish Crosses have been enhanced to look “appetizing,” to the public. A standard broiler will most likely have unnaturally large breasts and white skin. Other breeds tend to have smaller breasts with yellow skin, which is perhaps considered unsightly but is entirely normal.
The Columbian Wyandotte is one of the most cold-hardy breeds available. Its feathering and rose comb make it easy for the breed to survive even the coldest winters. In fact, the Golden-Laced Wyandotte originated in Wisconsin. So, it is safe to say that the breeders focused on developing the loose plumage for a good reason because it certainly helps keep them warm on cold nights.
Columbian Wyandottes love to forage for tasty treats around the yard, and prefer to eat most of their meals outside of the coop. I like to allow my Wyandottes free-range of the yard. When they are released in the morning, they are immediately hard at work. One downside to their incredible foraging abilities is that they tend to be the target of aerial predators. They become so wrapped up in their hunt for goodies that they seemingly forget to watch for hawks and eagles. I’ve also lost a few Wyandotte hens that didn’t make it back to the coop in time on a cold winter day and froze to death outside. Out of all the birds that I’ve owned, the Columbian Wyandotte seems to be the last one in the coop at night. They are genuinely the night owl of the flock.
The Wyandotte is one of the best options for new chickens owners because it is a remarkably calm breed. They are beautiful to look at, and they are typically quite friendly. While they are generally kind-hearted chickens, they do tend to have a mind of their own. Often, my Wyandotte hens will venture out on their own, much too far from their rooster, which can lead to disaster. Out of all my hens, I’ve lost the most Wyandottes over the years to hawks.
Wyandottes are excellent mothers if the conditions are right. I have had a handful of free-range hens go broody and raise their own babies. Usually during the Spring if a hen goes missing, I don’t become too concerned. I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she is merely off brooding in her chosen nest.
One other standout characteristic of the Columbian Wyandotte is that it tends to be loudest in the coop. They are noisy hens and like to cackle a lot! I usually enjoy the occasional banter, but after a while, I just prefer that these ladies stop going on about their most recent egg-laying session.
Columbian Wyandottes are great chickens beginners because of their docile temperament, excellent foraging abilities, and cold-hardiness. They are one of the most beautiful dual-purpose breeds available and are fantastic for those living in colder climates. They are also truly the triple threat of the chicken world. They are astoundingly ornamental, perfectly sweet, and dual-purpose. What’s not to love?