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

Jersey Giant Size, Egg Laying, Colors and Temperament Blog Cover

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 are the Brahmas’ – we will discuss them in a future article.

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

Today we are going to take a 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.

The History of Jersey Giant

Originally developed by John and Thomas Black, near Jobstown, New Jersey, it was another bird that 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, commercial large, 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 any other breeds were added in the beginning.

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

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

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

However, a breeder by the name of Meloney and a few other breeders were working 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 black bird.

The White Jersey Giant was created 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 Purchase Jersey Giant Chickens

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 moderate to long body that is both wide and deep – giving the impression of a square bird. The back is very broad 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 to each foot. There should be no feathering on the legs.

A single comb and wattles should be red. They are a yellow skinned bird.

Eyes are a dark brown. 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 prior to showing or exhibition. It also serves them well in cold climates and they are a good, cold tolerant bird.

Jersey Giant Temperament and Egg Laying

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

They are good with children in general, 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 very large, 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 hen 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 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 an 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 very large, 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 ration, they should be regularly given vitamins and minerals for bone strength and development. It is important to not skimp on the nutrition that they need, it will lead to problems such as bone and muscle weakness. 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.

In consideration of 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 consideration for 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 for anyone with the prerequisite space, the Giant is an excellent choice.

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 perch 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 think of when having Jersey Giants, mainly in the 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 taste of the bird 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 the 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…

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    • Keith says

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

      • anthony falante says

        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

        • Roselus A Vicknair says

          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!

        • Trevor says

          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.

  1. Peggy Porter says

    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.????

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      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. Karen says

    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. jeff piper says

    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.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

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


  4. Patricia says

    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. Mike says

    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. Patrick says

    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

    • Sandy Rijskamp says

      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. Pamela Patterson says

    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. Jennifer says

    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. Debs Sheridan says

    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. Aaron says

    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. Leah says

    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. Les Voss says

    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. Gretche 85 says

    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.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      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. Black Giants says

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

    • Chandra says

      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. Mohammad Shabbir Hossain says

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

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      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. Natasha says

    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?!

    • Alex says

      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. Chandra says

    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. Raymond says

    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. Jeannette Russell says

    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.

    • Brandy says

      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. AE says

    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. Catherine J Clark says

    Last year I got 16 Black Jersey sexed chicks from Murphy McMurphy hatchery and I have to say they are the loves of my life….. LOL. I am now truly the neighborhood chicken lady. Initially we hand raised them in the house, but they got BIG quick (like 3 month size at just 3 weeks!) so we had to make a brooder out of our back canning kitchen for awhile until we could move them to a coop. It turned out one was a Roo, but I traded with a friend who also raised BJs to introduce new DNA into our flocks and it has worked out marvelously (hers are hand raised too.) These birds are huge, and so docile and sweet. They have a name for me in chicken, and it cracks my friends and family up to see them running to me and calling me by my chicken name. They all love to be handled and picked up and cuddled. I have also found them to be very bright, and funny enough musical. They love chimes and bells and they will imitate musical notes (up to five notes in succession) when I hum them. They are too big for the hawks to pick up, and are very protective of one another from threats, but easy to introduce to new home species/pets with a little patience and a lot of love. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with a flock of chickens. I let them free range in my yard when I am out working in it, and they stay fairly close. Not flighty at all. And when I leave the yard a simple whistle and they queue up to quickly go into their protected yard and coop with no difficulties (and of course with treats as reward.) Mine were hatched in July, so they didn’t start laying until March! (I don’t use forced lighting to extend egg production in the Winter months.) In general it is usually about 6 months before the hens start laying. They are a slow growing breed, and even now 4 months into their second year they are still filling out. I’ve only had one go broody, and she did fine with her brood of 6, which miraculously all turned out to be female (magical that!) A few months ago I nailed a kid’s xylophone to the wall of their coop, and they love it and play it all the time. And not random notes, actual notes that sound good together when played. (I knew some chickens were musical when I saw one at Knott’s Berry Farm play a piano when I was five years old. LOL.) They are very social, group up in threes and fours and are very socially chatty, but not super noisy. They do not pick on and peck at each other very often, which is a nice change from all other chickens I have had in the past, and in fact spend a lot of time taking turns keeping one another groomed. And at night when they settle in to their perches they literally sing and talk sweetness to one another. It’s very calming and is like listening to love purrs. LOL. They are happy birds and very accepting and versatile. They are super hardy in cold, but they do struggle in high Summer heat temperatures, so I had to take extra measures to keep them cool when it was extra hot out – ice cubes with mint, misters, shade, slightly damp contractor sand etc. I highly recommend these birds for families, especially those with kids. They like to be handled and are hardy and not easily hurt. My Roo is very big (17 pounds with talons over 3″ long!) and quick to protect his girls from predators, but will love up on little kids, even those that are a little too grabby. Perfect temperaments with humans and mine are also bonded with our dogs (one of my smaller hens likes to ride around on the back of my German Shepherd.) They problem solve well, and are very attentive. And they like to stick together and just hang out and chill. It is a breed that is still on the watch list, after having been on the endangered list for 11 years, so it is making a come back. I had all mine inoculated at hatch and am careful not to mix and I maintain a quarantine to keep them healthy from disease. I can’t say anything bad about this breed. They are so fun and so beautiful….. their thick, sleek black feathers are dense and always glossy clean and they are a beautiful irridescent blue/green in the sunlight. They are not only hardy but a long-lived breed too. And easy to set up for a few days on their own if I want to go out of town. Yes, I love my birds and I recommend them to anyone thinking of getting chickens. They are solid egg layers, good mothers, sweet pets and well mannered and tempered. They are also a good meat bird (though they mature slow so it is an investment in feed), but my flock is not a meat flock and they all have names and are considered pets. I will consider Roos for the pot if we end up with some extra from a brood, but so far we have not had to face that choice. Let’s get this breed off the watch list! They are worth it. I love them and highly recommend them! A fabulous free range bird for large farms, and an easily adaptable bird to smaller coops for city living. And they are pretty quiet too. Awesome breed!

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