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Jersey Giant: Size, Egg Laying, Colors, Temperament and More…


The Jersey Giant breed is very aptly named.

It is the largest purebred chicken in the US and probably the world! The only other breed that comes close is the Brahmas – we will discuss them in a future article.

Once seen, this splendid bird is unlikely to be forgotten since its size alone makes an impression on you. They are, in fact, gentle giants.

Today, we will look at how the Jersey Giant came to be and the benefits this bird offers to chicken keepers and admirers alike.

In addition, we will discuss the size, egg-laying capabilities, and temperament of this wonderful bird.

Jersey Giant

The History of Jersey Giant

Originally developed by John and Thomas Black near Jobstown, New Jersey, another bird was produced to fill a marketing niche.

At around that time (the 1870s’-1890s’), there was a demand for big, heavy roasting birds that would rival, perhaps even surpass, the more common turkey.

Late in the development of this bird, large commercial, broad-breasted turkeys were presented to the public, so the Jersey Giant did not achieve the initial goal set for it.

The brothers used a mix of Black Java, black Langshan, and dark Brahmas’ to achieve the bird they wanted. It’s unclear if they added any other breeds in the beginning.

The name ‘Jersey Giant’ took some time to emerge. Originally they were named ‘Giants’; they then called them Blacks Giants around the turn of the century in honor of the Black brothers.

They created the name Jersey Black Giants around 1917 in honor of the State it was created in.

Originally, they paid little attention to the color of the birds, which led to a variety of colors in the feathering.

However, a breeder named Meloney and a few other breeders worked to make the breed more standardized in color and conformation. He began exhibiting them for the public to see and admire.

His work paid off, and within a few short years, the Black Jersey Giant was accepted into the APA in 1922 as a blackbird.

They created the White Jersey Giant from the ‘sports’ of the black Giant. Sports are offspring that are a different coloration from the parents.

These sports were refined and eventually became the White Jersey Giants. They were recognized as a breed in 1947.

In 2001, they were listed as a ‘critically endangered’ breed by the Livestock Conservancy – now, in 2017, it has been moved to the ‘watch’ list.

They are still considered rare in the US, although backyard keepers are helping this unique bird to regain its’ popularity.

It is yet another fine breed that has been almost forgotten after the advent of the faster-growing ‘industrial bird.’

Jersey Giant Standard and Appearance

The Black Jersey Giant was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1922. The White followed in 1947 and the Blue in 2003.

The Giant is a big bird – males can weigh in at around 13-15 pounds, with the females weighing around 11 pounds. The black variety is usually around a pound heavier than the white.

The height of the male bird is usually between 22-26 inches, with the female being 16-20 inches.

The bird has a moderate to a long body that is both wide and deep – giving the impression of a square bird. The back is comprehensive and flat, and a tail that is relatively short for the size of the bird.

As we have already noted, this is a robust bird.

Black Giants should have a ‘beetle green’ sheen to their feathers in sunlight, which is absolutely stunning.

Legs should be black, although they have yellow soles on their feet and four toes on each foot.

There should be no feathering on the legs.

A single comb and wattles should be red. They are yellow-skinned birds.

Their eyes are dark brown. The beak should be black with a slight tinge of yellow at the tip.

White Giants have willow-colored shanks and yellow soles. The beak of the Whites is more yellowish.

The Blue Jersey Giant should have nearly black shanks, occasionally a tendency towards dark willow. The feather coloring should be a slatey blue laced with darker blue.

The feathers on all Giants are “tighter” than most other common poultry breeds, making them easier to clean up before showing or exhibition. It also serves them well in cold climates, and they are good, cold-tolerant birds.

Jersey Giant

Jersey Giant Temperament and Egg Laying

The Giant is a docile, mellow bird in general, even the roosters. They are known as friendly birds, and several folks have kept them as pets rather than their intended purpose of table birds.

They are good with children generally, although their large size can be intimidating to some smaller children since they stand so tall.

The hens seldom go broody, but when they do, they really aren’t the greatest setters because of their weight – sadly, they are prone to breaking the eggs.

The egg size is huge, and because of this size, chicks may take a couple of extra days to hatch. Also worth noting is that pullets may not reach their point of lay until around 6 months old.

However, the Jersey Giant eggs can be set under a regular broody to ensure a continuous supply of quality birds.

Is the Jersey Giant Right For You?

The Giant makes a wonderful backyard bird. It is friendly, gentle, and gets along pretty well with other breeds, and usually, many other chickens will not mess with a Giant because of the size!

They are steady, not flighty, so they are easier than some to handle, and they don’t fly.

They forage well and enjoy the ability to roam and exercise, which helps with muscle development.

Due to their large size, they are not easy prey for hawks. If they are to be totally confined, coop space should be minimally four square feet/bird – more is better, and several sources recommend eight square feet/bird.

The egg-laying is not too shabby at 150-200 eggs per year, averaging between 2-4 eggs per week.

Eggs are huge, light to medium brown in color.

However, where the Giant really stands out is in meat production. The meat is said to be excellent, and one bird can easily feed a family of four.

Having said all that, Giants are not quick to mature. It will be at least six months before a rooster will tip the scales at ten pounds.

Most people who raise them say that they build frame the first and flesh out the second year, so if you want a quickly maturing meat bird – this bird is not for you.

Although they eat standard rations, they should be regularly given vitamins and minerals for bone strength and development. It is important not to skimp on the nutrition they need; it will lead to bone and muscle weakness problems.

If they are allowed to free-range, they will gather many of the nutrients they require from the land.

The cost of feeding such a large bird is an important factor to consider when selecting your breed. The Jersey Giant will cost you more in feed over time since they eat more and take longer to mature.

Considering their weight, perches in the coop should be placed a bit lower to the ground than standard to avoid leg injuries, and the perches themselves should be robust.

Other than considering possible leg injuries, the bird does not suffer from any unusual maladies or genetic problems. In fact, it is a robust and healthy breed.

Obviously, this bird is really not the best choice for city living, but the Giant is an excellent choice for anyone with the prerequisite space.

In addition to leg injuries, this large breed is prone to contracting bumblefoot due to injuries.

Large breeds land harder than other breeds, and the Jersey Giant lands the hardest.

If there are any sharp objects, or stones, under the porch of a Jersey Giant, and she lands on it and punctures the bottom of her foot, she becomes susceptible to infection, bumblefoot, and possibly death.

This is just one other reason to keep your perches and roosts close to the ground. If your giants are free-range, you will have very little control over their actions.

Even though the Jersey Giant is not a big flyer (due to their size), their curiosity may lead them to new heights.

If you keep an eye on your birds, you can usually catch bumblefoot quickly and treat your chook before the infection takes off.

Keep an eye on your free-range Giants and watch for limping (one of the first signs of bumblefoot).


Although there are a few extra considerations to consider when having Jersey Giants, mainly in space, feed, and height requirements, they really are an easy bird to raise.

If you have a larger family and wish to raise your own birds, the Jersey Giant may be a great fit for you.

They are certainly not for the folks who wish to raise a table bird in under a couple of months, but the wait is worthwhile.

They are becoming a favorite amongst the ‘slow food’ crowd who prefer the bird’s taste to the speed at which it’s raised.

This is a superb bird worthy of the time and effort required in raising them. If you have space and ability, give them a try – you may grow to love them!

Do you own Jersey Giants? We would like to hear your stories about this breed in the comments section below…

READ NEXT: Bumblefoot in Chickens: The Complete Care and Treatment Guide

Jersey Giant

56 thoughts on “Jersey Giant: Size, Egg Laying, Colors, Temperament and More…

    1. I have 15 white jersy giants pullets and two white cockerls plan on hatching eggs this spring in my incubator which holds 200 eggs

      1. my giant roo attacks me everytime my back is turned,if he didnt take such good care of his ladies i would find out just how good he would go in a stew

        1. I had 1 rooster doing the same thing and this worked. Try catching and holding him for about 20 minutes. You must hold him firmly, 1 hand around his neck and the other hand preventing his wings from flapping. You may have to do this more than 1 time. I had to do it twice and the rooster attacking me, and now he lets me touch him!

        2. When you can, pick him up firmy and securely, then use your finger as an imitation beak and “peck” the back of his neck/head as any other chicken would. Do several pecks to bring his head down, and gently keep it there until he is calm and still. It doesn’t take much pressure at all to do this, so you don’t need excessive force, should be more gentle and firm. You can also do this if you have him securely on the ground. That will establish your supremacy in the hierarchy. Did it to my BJG cockerel and now he is fantastic with me.

    2. Be careful before buying Jersey Giants from a commercial hatchery. I have some and they would better be called Jersey Dwarfs. They are the size of my New Hampshires. They are flighty and nothing like you describe as the standards. My friends, also, had the same experience when buying these birds from commercial hatcheries. You need to find a good breeder who breeds for the standard.

  1. I have left several replays and haven’t seen any of them in this section. Also, have asked some questions and never had them answered.????

    1. Hi Peggy,
      I’ve answered your previous questions on the blue egg laying chickens aritlce but I haven’t seen any posted on this one. Please feel free to send the question again here or email it to us 🙂

  2. I have had my giants now for over a year, and need to say, out of 13 hens about 6 went broody. I did let 1 hen hatch out 7 eggs but no eggs from broody hens for some time. they are free range ,and if not watching will lay eggs in tall grass never to be found, but still gotta love em

  3. I have one Big Blue that is truly a great member of my flock of ten mixed hens. You nailed the description.
    Blue was traumatized by a Coon attack and has not layed an egg since. She still likes to range but stays close. She’s smart.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the attack, how long ago was it Jeff? Has she physically recovered yet?

  4. I am very interested in this bird, only as an egg-layer/pet. Great article. I wonder if I can find them on Vancouver Island, BC?
    Question: at the expense of you already having written about this matter, I will ask what is a very important question: what foods should chickens not be offered?

  5. I ordered 3 BJG’s in my 1st order this past spring, 2 died the day after the shipment got here. The lone survivor (Pullet) is now 6 & 1/2 months old she is breeding & laying eggs, but she is tiny. I have 2 Buff Orpington pullets that are 8 weeks younger and they are bigger than she is. Do they really take that long to develop?

  6. Can you please advise me of sources of Jersey giants. I have this idea to ship hatching eggs to Nigeria (Importation of DOcs is prohibited in Nigeria).
    Can they possibly survive in the tropics?
    Thank you

    1. I have one hen left from 10 eggs here in Mindanao, the hen is 7 months plus and doing fine.
      Now I was reading that the eggs from Giants taking more time then 21 days?
      From the incubator after 21 days I had most of the 10 eggs nicely developed but did not hatch or too early taken out.
      I think I have the owner of the incubator to warn to give these eggs more time to hatch, right?

  7. I have 8 jersey chicks 3&1/2 months old 4 girls and 4 boys and I just set up a second coop and yard for them and placed the boys in the new coop and yard but the boys won’t go into the new coop how long will it take them to get used to the new coop. Should I put them in the new coop and shut the door at night for a few days?

  8. They are very sweet birds. However, I have one now who is broody and has become rather feisty. All my chickens love to lay in the same box but she will not get out (or if she does it’s just for a few minutes). The others are at the point where they will get in with her to lay. How long do they stay broody?

  9. Hello, I live in the south of England and I have five girls now, three silkie cross Bantams Hetty, Betty and Marmalade. A Wellsummer called Pickle and a beautiful 8 month Blue Jersey Giant called Diamond Lil named after the barmaid in the TV series Bergerac filmed on Jersey. She is a lovely gentle temperament and never squabbles with the others, she’s not worried about my back, poodle cross Flora,she is a dab hand at digging the soil over for then al and very partial to popcornl. They are all in their first season and she is at the top of the leader board so far in egg production they are weighing around 60g, I would recommend them to anyone. If I had more space I would have more of them..

  10. I have a white JG that has been my lead rooster for the past 7 years, great bird. I started a new flock of blue and splash JGS. Best breed I have encountered.

  11. I have 2 jersey giants, one black and one white, about 1.5 years old now. My black girl is very friendly and happy, started laying at 6 months, smaller light brown eggs. My white girl is friendly but does not like to be handled, and didn’t start laying til 9 months. Her weight and thick feathers helped her escape a fox attack, it got nothing more than a mouthful of feathers. Overall I like them quite a bit. They are said to lay longer in their lifetime, although eggs come maybe every other day right now.

  12. Thank you for the article, I have a couple questions. My coop is in shade, with an attached outdoor covered run, but is in North Florida; will I need special heat considerations (misters?) I built my coop with standard size laying boxes—these birds appear much bigger. Are they going to fit? Last, I have trouble with predators despite limited free range time; does their size make them at lower risk to predators (hawks, bobcats, foxes.)

  13. I have a Jersey Giant rooster, and he’s the meanest, most aggressive bird I’ve known (towards everything but his hens) when it comes to protecting his flock he’s also the best I’ve seen. I acquired him as an adult, maybe this is the issue…. but reading about these birds being docile mellow and friendly is absolutely not the case with this bird.

    1. Late introduction is most likely your issue here, without knowing how he was raised in the past and his placement in previous pecking orders.

  14. Giants do not break eggs when sitting. Nor are their eggs XL. Not the best layers. Hawks decimated mine.

    1. My Black Giant was breaking eggs. Questing this I decided maybe more calcium, and set out a huge amount of oyster shell,haven’t had the problem. Haven’t been trying to hatch chicks either only eggs for our consumption.

  15. I am interested to collect this bird for egg and meat purpose for reselling in my country. Who can give me good advise, please?

    1. If your looking to purchase in bulk you will have to find a local supplier, if your looking on how to raise chickens there are countless guides here to assist you in the process. Good luck!

  16. HELP!!!
    I have a broody JBG and sitting on approximately 15 eggs.. they should have started hatching yesterday. That being said, I found 2 eggs that she had apparently pecked and ate the contents, today she did the same thing to FOUR of them… she is just now a little more than a year old and this is her first time being broody. I don’t know if she is eating them because they are trying to hatch and she doesn’t know what to do or if its something else. I find it very odd that they should be hatching and yet she is eating only the contents..
    What is going on with her and what do I do?!

    1. She very well could just be getting first time mama jitters, remove the eggs from her if you have an incubator so that she doesn’t eat them. You might want to raise the chicks just in case she eats the chicks too.

  17. Love the breed! Started with three black now have one cockerel, one blue, and five black. They are beautiful! They are our Family bird, hardy birds, calm, and friendly, communicate too I know when they need something. 1st time having a cock,he’s already changed our oldest hen into a nesting hen. Hopefully all goes well. Fertile eggs and more security. Back yard flock,We Love them

  18. Hi. I’m Ray. My wife and I have 50 BJG birds. 23 Roos and 27 hens. They are 5-1/2 months old and we just removed 17 of the Roos so the hens are not picked on to much. We have black/white and the blue and just love them. Never a problem with them at all Roos that are moved to a new coop are the noisiest and very friendly. We will be collecting eggs in a month or two for the incubator. These birds I would recommend to anyone who wants them ion a farm or acreage. Most fun we have with them is in the summer watching them chase the grasshoppers. Lol. We live in northern Alberta and they are great cold weather birds.

  19. Do you mail the chicks or eggs? Would like to purchase some. If you know of a person in the USA that sells could you let me know? I live in New Mexico.

    1. There is a place called Ducks and coop hatchery in Columbiaville MI. They have black Jersey Giants for sale right now. They are on Craigslist. I do not know if they ship though. Worth looking into at 3.50 a chick.

  20. I live in NC, in the summer it gets quite warm, are there any extra considerations I need to think about before purchasing this breed or do they fair well in warm environments too?

  21. I have 1 black Jersey Giant, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Ameracauna, and 1 bantam Ameracauna – all one year old. My Jersey Giant has gone broody 4 times in her 1 year life. I have learned now how to break her in 3 days – jail time. But she still won’t lay for full 21 days after going broody. She’s not earning her keep! (haha) But she is pretty docile, and lays large eggs when she does lay. Only one of my other hens has ever gone broody. I do not have a rooster, so no baby chicks. But they will sit on those eggs til the cows come home if I let them. I don’t – they go to jail. Today is day 3 – my BJG roosted last night with the others, and was out this morning.
    My bantam Ameracauna quit laying in August, when the heat was pretty brutal in NC. She is NOT broody, but has not laid an egg in about 8 weeks. Any thoughts on that?

  22. Very interesting article. I decided on the breed because I wanted something different than the average chicken you see on farms. I’m glad I’m helping the breed come back. I have 20 Jersey Giants, 10 hens and 10 roosters. They just turned 6 months old at the turn of the year and just started to lay. 3 weeks ago I separated all but 2 roosters from the group. They are beautiful birds. While they were growing up and all together they would go through 10 pounds of food a day. I have a 4 foot high fence and when they are let out they love to stretch their wings and do fly over the fence. The good thing is they are easy to catch and put back.

  23. I purchased my 3 Jersey hens as chicks- from Tractor supply in the Spring. There is a 6 bird minimum. In this purchase I also bought 2 white silkies and 2 minis (largest of the two weighs 2lbs). Here’s what survived…
    3 black Jersey G hens (1 indoor, 2 outdoor)
    1 white Silky roo (lost the other as a chick)
    1 frizzled multi toned brown Serema roo (indoor)
    1 frizzled grey toned Serema hen (indoor)
    I love them all. My 2 minis are indoor pets & my smallest (so far) JG hen is also.
    Everyone however gets to free range & eat worms, fruits, veggies, hay, pellets, indoor baths, & love!

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