The creation of the Wyandotte breed came about from the desire to have a chicken breed that was suitable as an ‘all-rounder’ – that is, for both eggs and table fare.
Wyandotte’s are good layers of light to dark brown eggs averaging about 200 eggs/year.
Of course, other colors came along later, but the Silver Laced Wyandotte was the first and arguably the prettiest of the Wyandotte breed.
This article discusses the history of the Silver Laced Wyandotte, its temperament, egg production, and, crucially, if it’s the right hen for you.
The History of Silver Laced Wyandottes
The Wyandotte is one of Americas’ oldest and most well-known and loved breeds. It is unusual because it was the first American chicken ‘created’ with a dual purpose in mind.
Early Americans had many different breeds providing eggs and meat, but no one breed provided both well.
They had brought over all chickens from Britain and Europe, so there were several different breeds available, but none had been specifically bred to fit the needs of the early settlers and homesteaders.
Initially, the bird that would become the Wyandotte was called the American Sebright, Sebright Cochin, or Mooney.
These birds had been mentioned as far back as 1873 and were found over much of the US after the Civil War. However, there is little or no information that I have been able to find about this ‘proto’ bird.
To add to the confusion, the Sebright, as known in England, is a bantam, not a full-size bird, nor is it in any way related.
Silver Laced Wyandottes: The Creation
Four men – H.M. Doubleday, J. Ray, L. Whittaker, and F. Houdlette were the innovators of their time.
They sought to create a bird that was indeed a utility bird providing both meat and eggs to the average American family with minimal cost.
They worked separately in Michigan and upstate New York to try and perfect the Mooney bird.
There was a rose comb and single comb varieties in the early specimens, but when the breed was admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1883, the rose comb was the desired ‘standard.’
Although the exact origins of the Silver Laced Wyandotte are unknown, genetic material from the dark Brahmas and silver spangled Hamburgs are likely contributors.
Also, possible contributors to the genetic pool were Breda and Polish fowl.
The name of the bird – the Wyandotte – was an acknowledgment of an Indian tribe – the Wyandot – who had initially been befriended and helped the settlers in upstate New York and Ontario, Canada.
Fred Houdlette suggested it in honor of his fathers’ boat, which had also been named in honor of the tribe.
When poultry farming became ‘industrialized’ in the mid-twentieth century, the Wyandotte was cast aside as not productive enough.
It did not produce eggs in sufficient quantity, nor did it quickly put on meat enough to be profitable.
Over the years, the number of Wyandottes declined steeply, and it became an endangered breed in its own country – the US.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte was listed as a ‘priority’ breed by the ALBC until 2016, when they removed it because numbers had recovered enough to warrant an upgrade.
This is yet another breed threatened by the almost meteoric rise of the ‘industrial’ hen.
Thankfully, thousands of backyard keepers fell in love with this beautiful bird and gave it a second chance.
Sadly, its’ sister bird, the white Wyandotte, has not enjoyed such a resurgence in popularity and remains critically endangered.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Standard and Appearance
In total, the American Poultry Association recognizes nine varieties of the large fowl and ten bantam varieties.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte was admitted to the American Standard in 1883, the first of the Wyandotte varieties to do so.
The many varieties of Wyandotte were admitted as follows:
- 1883 – silver laced
- 1888 – gold-laced, white
- 1893 – buff, partridge, black
- 1902 – silver penciled
- 1905 – Colombian
- 1977 – blue
The birds are somewhat round and fluffy. All the fluffiness helps to keep the hen warm through the cold winter months.
They are a medium-weight bird with the rooster weighing in at 8.5lb and a hen at 6.5lb.
The bird has a somewhat ‘curvy’ shape with a short but well-arched neck. This leads down into a brief but broad back on a medium-length bird.
The saddle rises, giving a slightly ‘U’ shaped silhouette. The body is broad and deep, well-rounded, almost voluptuous.
Eyes are a reddish bay color and deeply set.
Legs, toes, beaks, and skin are all yellow. The legs are short and stout, widely placed for perfect balance. There are four toes to each foot.
Comb, wattles, earlobes, and face should all be a vibrant red. The bird has a rose comb which is highly useful in cold, frosty climates. It is much better at tolerating frost and freezing than a more pronounced comb is.
Some of the problems associated with these birds have been narrow backs, little chicks, and poor hatches.
The two latter problems are both significant contributors to the scarcity of the White Wyandotte.
It has been noted that there are significant differences in color tones between the UK and US birds.
Disposition and Egg Laying
Wyandottes are of good temperament, although some can have strong personalities making them seem aloof.
They are friendly birds but not ‘cuddly’ and can be pretty talkative, although this can vary significantly from bird to bird.
They are usually reasonably dominant with other birds, so they are often near or top of the pecking order. Wyandottes don’t appear to bully other birds but are assertive and are seldom bullied.
As for egg-laying, they are reasonable layers averaging around 200 light to dark brown eggs each year.
They make great mothers and are prone to being broody, which many folks find undesirable since they don’t want or can’t have more chicks.
Also, the desire to be broody cuts down on egg production quite significantly. Several people use them to hatch eggs from breeds that aren’t good at being moms or broodies.
They tolerate confinement well but are good foragers when allowed to free-range.
The Wyandotte has copious, gorgeous feathers making it suitable for colder climates like the upper Mid-West states, Canada, and Northern New England. It will tolerate warmer weather but needs to have shade readily available and, of course, plenty of cool water.
The bird is a rose-combed bird, which is ideal for colder climates as they will not quickly get frost-bitten as the comb sits much closer to the skull.
Occasionally, you will find a Wyandotte with a single comb, but these specimens are not recognized by the APA and should not be used for breeding.
Average life expectancy seems to range between 6 – 12 years, depending on the line of the birds.
They are not prone to any unusual chicken ailments. Since they have thick, dense feathering, lice and mites can be a problem if not checked on regularly.
All that fluffiness at the back end can lead to some poopy feathers, so the occasional trim may be necessary to keep them clean and tidy. If mating is a problem, you may need to trim the feathers to help facilitate fertilization.
Is The Silver Laced Wyandotte Right For You?
Wyandottes do very well in 4H projects and the show ring – especially in the mid-West states.
The Wyandottes are popular show birds in the UK, Europe, and Australia too!
Generally, the Wyandotte is a calm and tolerant bird, making for an easily handled and compliant bird.
This is very important in the 4H arena, where the birds are generally raised by youngsters, making them an ideal ‘beginner’ bird.
Birds need to have a ‘bomb proof’ demeanor for the show ring. They must endure being caged all day close to strange birds.
They need to be able to handle the stress of being picked up, prodded, and judged – not sure I would have the temperament for all that, but Wyandottes seem to take it in their stride!
As a backyard hen, they are pretty calm and undoubtedly beautiful to look at. As we have mentioned, they are good with children and well suited for a family with children.
This breed is ideal for you if you’re looking for a solid yet docile breed that lays nicely.
While the Silver Laced Wyandotte is an excellent forager, their aloofness makes them a bit naive and prone to predator attacks.
The Wyandotte is often more involved in the grubs and goodies they are foraging for than keeping an eye out for predators.
The Wyandotte is a decent free-range chicken, but it might be wise to keep your hens with a rooster, so at least someone is watching out for aerial predators.
And while their interesting colorations can help deter predators, it isn’t usually enough to protect them fully from an attack.
A note on Bantam Varieties: Like most breeds, the bantam variety of the wyandotte is very similar to the standard version. Temperaments and climate tolerance are identical as well.
However, it is essential to note that most bantams of any breed tend to be just a tad flightier and less friendly than the standard versions. As always, temperaments vary within the species, from bird to bird.
If you have a mixed flock, consider adding a few of these beautiful birds. They are beautiful ‘eye candy’ and pretty low-maintenance hens.
If you are starting and want a pretty and productive flock that people are sure to admire, the Silver Laced Wyandotte is a real contender.
They may not be as prolific egg producers as the sex links, but 200 eggs/year is not an alarming rate of lay for a small family concern.
The fact that they lay throughout the winter months may be the clincher for you since many other breeds slow production or stop entirely during the most challenging months.
Do you already have some Silver Laced Wyandottes? Let us know in the comments section below about your experience with them…
READ NEXT: Columbian Wyandotte Chicken – Everything You Need To Know
54 thoughts on “Silver Laced Wyandotte: Egg Production, Temperament and More…”
have one in our flock of four like much
We have 4 chickens. 2 of them are 12 day old chicks (Buff Orpington and Silver Laced Wyandotte) and two, 5 month old chickens (Sapphire chicken and Australorp) We had to give our Welsummer away because he turned out to be a rooster. Not sure how chicks will respond to big chickens or who is going to be the dominate hen.
Unfortunately, we had to give away ours SLW because not only was she at the top if the pecking order but nearly killedbone if our Buff Orpington. I liked her but could not have this situation.
I know this doesn’t relate to this subject but in short, I have abBuff Orp who will not get out of her broodiness. I’ve done everything that has been suggested and managed it twice before but it’s been two months, she is in the nesting box 24/7 except when I bring her out to the run or for supervised free ranging. She won’t stay on the roost when I place her there. Any suggestions. I don’t want to have fertilized eggs so it’s an all hen coop. Should I just put a box in coop or run to let her lay in it all day long as one of my Americaunas is getting a little bullish with her. Any advice will be appreciated. Don’t want to give her away as she is my sweetist hen. Thanks!
We had a broody Bardrock and could not brake her. One day when I cleaned the hen house, I also changed out the two nesting box’s, to smaller ones. I guess she didn’t like that at all because she stopped sitting on the nest all day. ??
I use a dog crate lifted off the ground so the hen gets air flow under her. I keep her in there for a few days at least. If she goes back to the nest when I let her out then she goes back in the crate. The longest I’ve had a hen in the crate is a week. This seems to break their broodiness quite well. Just make sure it’s lifted off the ground or she’ll just brood in the crate.
Hi – when my buff goes into broody mode – i put her in her own cage on my front veranda for 3 nights – you need to cool their body temperature down – so no bedding – just food and water – it seems to always do the trick. on the veranda there are slats so the air comes from the bottom and it is not protected from the sides or top so lots of cold air. Hope this helps.
Do you think that the SLW and Buff Orpington situarion could happen with other chickens or was it just in your flock? I have both breeds.
I have 3 golden laced and 1 silver laced. They are ok. The one golden laced seems to be broody often very annoying
I have one silver laced and one golden laced, and both seem to get anxious. one time, when I went out to check on them, one had plucked out many of her feathers. this was very concerning to me because I thought she might have contracted an illness (I am 13). luckily, she was just stressed about a coyote visiting our coop every night.
Thank you for your write on the Silver Wyandotte breed, I received 7 Golden Wyandotte prior to winter an it was pleasing to have them lay throughout our cold wet winter, already I have found one to be very broody, reassuring to hear it is breed trait
Thank you for an excellent Post very informative indeed, I am considering breeding Gold laced Wyandottes on a small scale in my backyard.
We have a beautiful one! 21 weeks old. New mixed flock of 5 mixed breeds. She is at the bottom of pecking order, with her black laced red Wyandotte friend. They seem small, compared to the other 3 we have. Also have one each: Partridge Rock, Ameracauna, and a Gold Sexlink. All about 19-22 weeks old.
I can agree with all your comments on SLW. Having both SLW and Buff Orpington. Hens in my coop get along with a little pecking between our higher pecking order SLW and one of the smaller buffs.
Good layers and docile personalities make for easy coop cleaning. The buffs are my pets with lots of lap time and petting. The SLW don’t want to miss out so they join in..
Our one huge rooster…a gift from our neighbor who lost most of his flock killed by his dog… Is a Barred Rock who was handled by the neighborhood kids.. Ruddy is well adjusted to my group and tolerates me with no aggression towards me. I can even pick him up and we tour the run together!!
My year old chickens are keeping my 16 week old Wyandotte from eating. How can o fix this without seperating them. Now 16 week wyndottes are breaking eggs cause they are hungry. What to do
How many feeders do you have? You could try spacing out your feeders to stop the bullying.
I had a very besutiful SLW. Unfortunately she died at 2 years of age from stress. She was at the bottom of the pecking order (no. 4) and she died the day after I moved their coop. Very stressful for a chicken. I miss her.
I’m sorry to hear about your loss Laurie. Did you ever get another SLW?
We have 2 silver laced wyandottes 4 months old and just started laying eggs. Not cuddily but they will chatter with you the entire time you are outside, and follow you around. We recently added 2 ISA browns, and the SLW definitely are on top of the pecking order; did not realize how big they are until compared to the browns!
My SLWs just started laying and the eggs are quite small. Will they get bigger or is this the size I should expect?
As they mature over the next several months the egg size will continue to increase 🙂
we have one SLW left plus 2 Rhode Island Reds. We introduced some chicks to the group in the spring and the SLW hen will not let them roosting poles. She will make them huddle up in a corner on the floor of the hen house. Is this normal? How can I get her to accept the new hens that are now 6 months old?
Do you have enough space to add more roosting poles elsewhere in the coop?
Not really. There are 4 roosting poles with lots of extra space for the new girls.
We have 4 hens left of the original flock, but just the silver laced Wyandotte is brutally mean to the new hens.
As they go to roost I would pick them up off the floor and place them on the roosting poles 🙂 Make sure it’s dark before you do this…
We have 3 SLW & 3 GLW and your description suits them to a T.
I have two SLW very nervous compared to my other girls definitely bottom of Peking order they let my Pekin Bantom boss them about and she is half their size. They have just started laying but considering their size the eggs are small like the Pekins, will they get bigger? My isa browns started laying much bigger eggs at their age.
Yes they will get much bigger 🙂
Just give them a month or so!
We have one SLW , hatched around April 15. Still not laying. Is this normal? If so, when should we expect to start getting eggs?
By my math, she is just 24 weeks old? It should be any day now 🙂
I have a beautiful Silver laced Wyandotte & she has not layed yet but im hoping soon or at the very least start in the spring. I also have a smaller hen same age i thought that she was a bantom but looking & reading on this breed i think that she is actually a brown laced. Both r very sweet & i really enjoy them.
Thank you for sharing this Maryann 🙂
Could someone please tell me where I can buy some silver (or gold) wyndotte eggs? Preferably in or near Hawkes Bay?
I have one SLW very sweet and docile though she is the bottom of the pecking order she takes it in stride. But she lays pretty small very oval almost pointed eggs. They consistently weigh 1.7oz is that about right?
It sounds a touch light, but nothing too concerning!
We got our first six mixed chicks today and I made sure one was a SLW as soon as I saw that they had them.
I recently purchased 2 wyondottes and 1 recently started laying. Unfortunately the eggs are tiny. Will they get bigger?
Yes. Give her some time and they will get bigger as she matures 🙂
i have 4 SLW that are about 2 mo. old, started out not to pretty, but are filling out very pretty
Hello. We live in Australia and have two silver laced wyandottes arounnd 2 years old. We’ve found them to be quite broody and really bad layers. We haven’t had any eggs since January and are now into winter. They have a great run through our small orchard, always well feed and reguarly get to free range in the rest of our garden. They both seem very happy and are quite friendly. We really love the look of the wyandottes but unfortunately will be returning to the ISA brown breed unless we can improve the egg production. We had these previoulsly in the same run and if anything had more eggs then we could use.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Thank you for sharing your experience with them. Have you tried this:
My SLW have never been broody. My black jersey giants always brood their eggs.
When my SLW got broody I bought fertile eggs to put under her. She is the most amazing mother and fiercely protective of her chicks. The chicks are now 7 weeks old and I introduced them to the flock. None of the other hens dare to go near them. No bullying. All is well in the henhouse. This is one mother hen with eyes on the back of her head ???
I had my 2 gold-laced wyandottes euthanized at the vet’s after they head-pecked my Dominiques, causing one to go blind, and one of them nearly killed my rescue rooster. According to a chicken seller, about 1/2 of her customers revere the Wyandotte and the other half describe similar experiences to mine. There will never be another Wyandotte in my coop!
My Silver Laced Wyandotte has not re-grown her feathers after last fall’s moult. She looks dreadful but seems to be in good health otherwise. Does anyone have any ideas about this? Thanks.
We have just added two chicks about 3 weeks ago. They are doing well and are staying in our outdoors coop. They are SLW’s and out biggest concern is the warm weather we have in the New Orleans area, but we keep them in the shade, which helps. We love our female chicks and look forward to them getting bigger., and colorful.
Have 2..neither have produced an egg in over a year..they are now 3yrs old..one of the hens temperament is so bad I had to segregate it from the new chicks added to the flock
Had a slw show up in my yard. Don’t know where she came from. I’ve been feeding her and made a place for her. No one around us with that breed chicken, but, she has started trusting me and laying eggs now. I guess I’m mom now. Lol
I have one too that just showed up. So we bought a nice cage for her and are trying to figure out what she likes to eat. She seems very lonely and tries to get in the house (she has a few times) She loves to follow me around but I know she would like a friend but am afraid to get her any chicks. So what shall do?
See if there are any local hens needing adopting. If you get chicks you’ll have to take care of them for 6 weeks in a brooder before you can put them in with her. You could also try to find pullets from hatcheries but they’re harder to find.
I just got a SLW chick and she is really being picked on by my bantam who is similar in feathers, but brown and black (hubs can’t remember what they bought). Older hen has pecked her poor head bald. Not sure if I should make soup out of The older hen or what?!
We have eight Silver Laced Wyandotts, beautiful hens. Lay well but are loosing their beautiful feathers. Different then molting we think. The feathers don’t come back in. Was wondering if this might be a disease?
We have 13 SLW that we purchased straight run in March. Out of them 3 hens and 10 roosters. They have good temperament and will talk to me when I engage them. We do not free range but have a very large coop and run for them. They tolerate heat well but require cool water and treats to stay cool. We added 2 white leghorn and 3 Rhode Island Red hens in early may. Needless to say the SLW were and still are top of the pecking order and tend to be bullies at times. Will be harvesting the roosters in the coming weeks. They seem slow to gain weight and size
I have 9 Silver Wyandottes. They are gorgeous birds. We laugh and tell them how pretty their fluffy apple shaped bottoms are. We tell them they have nice butts Lol. They are more aloof than the New Hampshire Reds I have. They just started laying eggs. They are beautiful birds…
my Wyandottes are very good layers and lay 6-7 eggs every week🥚 One hen lays white/cream eggs and the other lays cream/brown eggs….