Did you know that the Java chicken is the second oldest chicken breed?
Javas are an old heritage breed developed in the United States in the early 1800s but originated from the Java Islands before then.
Unfortunately, the breed is not well documented.
According to the Livestock Conservancy, they are listed as critical, making them a relatively rare breed.
Javas are slow growers who make excellent homestead birds thanks to their dual-purpose properties.
The breed was used to develop the Jersey Giants, Rhode Island Reds, and Plymouth Rocks.
This is truly a great breed with many purposes and positive attributes.
I’m especially fond of their calm personalities and strong foraging instincts, but the breed has never gained the popularity of so many other American Heritage chickens.
In this article, let’s learn more about the Java Chicken and whether these beauties might be a good fit for your backyard flock.
Java Chicken Background and History
According to the Livestock Conservancy, Java Chickens came from the Isle of Java in the early 1800s.
People transported them to a young America sometime between 1835 and 1850, though some individuals believe they arrived in America sooner than this.
Javas are the second oldest breed in the US, only following the Dominique.
Britains imported their first Javas in 1885.
Java Chicken Breed Standard Appearance
Javas come in four colors, though only two are accepted by the American Poultry Association (APA) in the Standard of Perfection.
Black and Mottled are accepted by the APA.
Auburn and White were not accepted, though White was temporarily accepted until 1910 when it was removed.
This was because it too closely resembled the White Plymouth Rock.
Javas have a rectangular shape but with a slightly sloped topline. The backs are long, and they have well-rounded breasts. The feathers are tight.
A well-bred Java should have the first point of its comb right above its eye, not its beak.
They were developed from chickens with a pea comb (all Javas are now single combs).
It’s easy to mistake a Black Java for a Black Jersey Giant.
They have shiny, iridescent black feathers with a slight green sheen.
They have a more brilliant sheen than a Jersey Giant, only rivaled by the Langshan.
Black Javas have a bright red single comb, black shanks, a black beak, and yellow skin. The bottom of their feet should look yellow.
The eyes are dark brown to black.
Mottled Javas are black with splashes (also called mottles) of white throughout the body.
These colorful variations add some interest to your flock and may make it easier for you to identify individuals.
Typically, the feathers are white with black tips.
Over time, as the bird ages and molts, more and more white will develop, making it easy to distinguish the elders in your flock.
Their legs are grey to blue with yellow soles. The eyes are red.
White Javas are exceptionally similar to White Plymouth Chickens.
The best way to distinguish a White Java from a Plymouth is the body shape rather than color.
Look for the first point of the comb to be in line with the bird’s eye rather than the nostril.
The White Java will also have a longer back, rounder breast, and much tighter feathering (more feathers per square inch).
White Javas are not yet admitted to the APA, though dedicated breeders are working to get them recognized in the Standard of Perfection.
Auburn Javas were used to develop the Rhode Island Red, one of the most popular breeds in America today.
You may occasionally hear Auburn Javas referred to as “Red Java” or “Brown Java.”
Auburn Javas are difficult to find, but dedicated breeders are working to bring them back to the APA for acceptance.
A fascinating six-page PDF is covering the history and projected future of Auburns, which you can find here.
Breeders have taken Auburns and made them into “double browns” or “double laced” and “dark brown,” “mahogany,” “gold,” and “ginger” shades and plumage patterns.
Breeders have made stunningly beautiful penciling, barring, spangling, and partridge patterns with homozygous predictability.
Mottled Javas are white or yellow chicks with black eyes, black splashes on their backs, and yellow-orange feet and beaks.
Their body shapes are comparable to Rhode Island red chicks.
Java Chicken Size and Weight
Most Java roosters weigh nine and a half pounds, while the hens weigh seven and a half pounds.
Even rarer than the standard Java chickens are the bantam Javas. Those weigh 36 ounces as roosters (about 2.25 pounds) and 32 ounces as hens (two pounds).
Java Chicken Personality and Temperament
It’s a shame that the Java chicken is not popular because their personalities are delightful.
It’s rare to find a bird equally adept at foraging and free-ranging as they are sweet and docile.
Usually, you can have a child-safe bird or a self-sufficient one—but not both.
The Java chicken is the exception to this rule, so I’m hoping their population will bounce back.
The hens are inclined to go broody about once a year, and they are good mothers who keep track of their chicks and raise them well.
Chicks hatched and raised by their mothers rather than humans and incubators are a bit more flighty, but you can win them over with enough time and treats.
Java Chicken Egg Production
Java hens lay about 150 to 180 large eggs that are tinted (light brown) to dark brown.
They start laying later than many breeds, around six months old but will continue laying for many years longer than other heritage breeds.
Javas will consistently lay into their fifth and sixth years of life.
They will also continue laying eggs into the winter if you provide an additional light source and ample feed.
ALSO READ: Keep Hens Laying Eggs Through The Winter
Java Chicken Meat Production
Javas chickens grow slower than many other heritage breeds.
Still, the meat has a good flavor, and they’re great foragers.
This means they can source a good portion of their diet independently.
Javas are capable of hitting 7.5 to 9.5 pounds at full maturity as hens and roosters, respectively, expect weights of 5.5 to 8.5 pounds as young broilers.
Getting them to their potential total weights takes more time and feed than most breeders feel is worth it.
Java Chicken Common Health Problems
Java chickens have a strong immune system and have few health problems.
Their slower growth rate allows them to build a better immune system and sustain stress and unfavorable conditions well.
Most heritage breeds tend to be naturally healthier and hardier.
How to Keep Java Chickens Healthy
Maintain a Safe and Clean Coop and Run
Regularly clean the chicken coop to remove droppings, old bedding, and any leftover food.
A clean environment helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and parasites.
Use the deep litter method if that suits your lifestyle.
If not, strip, clean, and disinfect the coop at least once or twice a year.
Provide proper ventilation to reduce moisture and ammonia levels inside the coop.
Check for and repair any holes or gaps that may allow predators or pests to enter.
Be sure that the coop and run have adequate space for the number of chickens you have.
That’s at least four square feet of coop space per chicken.
Javas, like most heritage breeds, like to have the freedom to hunt for their food for at least a few hours a day.
Let them have time in your yard, or offer a larger run to encourage them to move around.
Feed a Well-Rounded, Complete Diet
Offer a balanced and nutritionally complete feed formulated for the specific needs of chickens.
You can choose between pellet or crumble forms from commercial feeds or make your feed at home.
Provide fresh and clean water at all times.
Chickens can be susceptible to dehydration; water is crucial for digestion and overall health.
They need about 75% water, and their food sources generally only provide 5-15% of their water needs daily.
Chickens should always have access to clean and fresh water 24/7, especially during extreme temperature swings.
Calcium is important for eggshell production. They should always have access to oyster shells or crushed lime.
Give Them Space on Pasture or To Free Range
Like most heritage breeds, Javas value self-sufficiency and their ability to forage.
They would appreciate plenty of time to be in the forest or on pasture to hunt for their own grains, insects, and grasses.
While they can be happy in stationary coops and runs, they may appreciate chicken tractors and rotational grazing more than many other breeds.
FAQ About Java Chickens
What Color Are Java Chicken Eggs?
Java hens lay tinted to dark brown eggs that are large.
Expect each hen to lay around 150 to 180 eggs per year from the time they are six to eight months old until they are six to eight years old.
Are Java Chickens Heat Tolerant?
Java chickens tolerate the heat well and easily handle most temperature fluctuations.
They are well suited for warmer climates and will forage even during the hottest days of summer.
At What Age Do Java Chickens Lay Eggs?
Java chickens start laying eggs slightly later than other breeds.
Most Java hens will produce their first eggs around six to eight months old.
Are Java Chickens Friendly?
Java Chickens are very friendly, docile, and sweet.
You can trust them around your small children, pets, and visitors.
They are not flighty and easy to tame and befriend, especially if you raise the chicks from hatching eggs.
Are Java Chickens Rare?
Java Chickens are rare. The most popular incubators in the US do not carry them.
As of February 2024, they are not offered by Murray McMurray, Cackle Hatchery, California Hatchery, Hoover’s Hatchery, Meyer Hatchery, or Purely Poultry.
Privett Hatchery does have Java chicks available.
Java Chicken Breed Profile Summary
Java chickens are a fantastic old heritage breed that built and developed several key popular breeds in the US, but their numbers are not doing well.
I fully believe they deserve more popularity, especially due to their plumage, sweet personalities, and self-sufficient tendencies.
With that said, I understand why many people do not want to invest in slow growers who “only” lay about 150 to 180 eggs a year, especially when there are hens capable of producing 300+ eggs per year, which are more common now.
I’m excited to see how their population changes over the next few years.
Their dedicated breeders are making remarkable progress, and I believe (hope?) the breed will survive.