Wyandotte Chickens: Are They Right For Your Flock?

Wyandotte Chickens Are They Right For Your Flock Blog Cover

The Wyandotte is one of Americas’ favorite hens. Created in the North-Eastern US it is a firm favorite of many homesteaders for it reliability in producing eggs and meat.

It has the distinction of being the first American breed specifically bred to be dual purpose.

It is a beautifully marked heritage bird. Sadly, it fell out of favor with the advent of industrial farms, but homesteaders and backyard chicken enthusiasts have brought this bird back from the brink of obscurity.

Keep reading to learn all about the Wyandotte Hen, including its temperament, friendliness, egg laying capabilities and much more…

History and Background of Wyandottes

Wyandotte ChickensThe emergence of the Wyandotte breed can be credited to four people: Fred Houdlette, John Ray, L. Whittaker and H.M. Doubleday. These fellows set out to create an American dual purpose hen, something that was lacking in the late 1800s.

The original name of the breed was American Sebright but when the bird was accepted by the American Poultry Association, the name was changed to Wyandotte.

It was named for the Wyandotte Indian Nation to honor the help and aid they had given to the first white settlers of the area.

The very first Wyandotte was a Silver Laced variety created in upstate New York back in the 1860s.  The second variety was the Gold laced Wyandotte, created in Wisconsin, also in the 1860s.

The gold laced variety was created by using a silver laced Wyandotte hen with a gold spangled Hamburg and Partridge Cochin cock. They were originally called Winnebagoes before the name was changed to Wyandotte.

In the early 1880s the first Wyandottes crossed the Atlantic to impress the British poultry fanciers. By 1904 the Wyandotte was so popular in England that prices varied from 35 – 165 Great British pounds per bird – the price of a small house at that time!

Wyandotte Chicken Purchase Wyandotte Chickens

Appearance and Standard

Silver Laced WyandotteThe Wyandotte is a large, heavy bird. The roosters will weigh around 8-9lb, while the hens will weigh in around 6-7lb.

Wyandotte bantams weigh around 36oz and 40oz for female and male respectively.

It is described as a deep, full breasted bird with a broad frame. It has a large broad head with a rose comb. The general shape has been said to be rotund.

The yellow legs are stout and well-spaced to hold the heavy frame of the bird, legs are clean – no feathers. There are 4 toes to each foot. Their face, wattles, comb and earlobes are all red and the beak is horn/yellowish in color tending towards a darker color. Eyes are orange in color.

Wyandottes have yellow skin as preferred by the American market.

The gold laced variety has golden feathers that are laced with black. If you look carefully you will see whitish central veining in the feather.

The Wyandotte was first admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1883. Other colors followed:

  • 1883 – silver laced
  • 1888 – gold laced Wyandotte
  • 1893 – black, buff, partridge
  • 1902 – silver penciled
  • 1905 – Colombian
  • 1977 – Blue

The Poultry Club of Great Britain recognized varieties are: barred, black, blue, blue laced, blue partridge, buff, buff laced, Colombian, gold laced, partridge, red, silver laced, silver penciled and white.

The Entente Europeenne lists 30 different colors.

The APA classifies the Wyandotte as American while the PCGB classifies it as soft feathered, heavy breed.

Bantam Wyandottes were admitted to the standard in1933. They are difficult to find but there are some dedicated breeders out there.

Temperament

Wyandotte ChickenThe Wyandotte in general is a calm, docile and friendly bird. That doesn’t mean it will tolerate being pushed around by other breeds.

The Wyandotte tends to be high in the pecking order because of this dominant streak. They are a bit aloof from the other breeds tending to stick to their own kind.

They tolerate confinement well enough but enjoy free ranging through the yard where they are avid hunters of bugs and seeds. It’s restful to watch them patrolling the yard at a sedate pace – they rarely hurry.

Wyandottes have a really good feather covering which makes them hardy in the colder climates. In the warmer areas they require shade and cool water.

They usually live to be anywhere between 6-12 years if allowed to die naturally.

Varieties of Wyandotte Chickens

There are several varieties of Wyandotte chickens. The original was a Silver laced variety – made by crossing a silver spangled Hamburg with a dark Brahma.

White and black ‘sports’ issued from this pairing also. White is the rarest of the Wyandotte coloring.

The Colombian variety was created by crossing a white Wyandotte with a Barred Plymouth Rock.

The Gold laced Wyandotte was originally created in Wisconsin by crossing a Silver laced Wyandotte with Gold Spangled Hamburg and Partridge Cochin.

The Buff was a silver laced crossed with a Buff Cochin.

The Partridge variety can be divided into two separate strains. In the Eastern states the cross was a Partridge Cochin with a Buff Wyandotte.

In the Western states it was a Partridge Cochin with a Cornish/Buff Wyandotte. This is a ‘simplified’ version of the Partridge. In reality multiple crosses were needed to obtain the pattern.

There are several other varieties of Wyandotte out there – Blue, Silver-penciled, Blue Laced Red, Red and even more.

Please note that the crossings of various varieties and breeds here is not exhaustive. Different sources offer different or more extensive breeding practices, much of it being guess work.

Egg Laying and Health Issues

The Wyandotte lays medium large brown eggs at a rate of roughly 4 eggs per week.

They have a fairly strong brooding instinct although this can vary between different strains. Wyandotte hens make great mothers fiercely protecting their chicks from danger.

In terms of health, the Wyandotte have been described as robust in appearance – it is also robust in health. The rose comb is well suited for colder climates where frostbite can be an issue.

There are no specific ailments noted for this breed. The usual assortment of ecto-parasites can be expected since the bird has pretty dense feathering and the rear end may need some feather trimming at times.

Is the Wyandotte Right for You?

Silver Laced Wyandotte Show HenThe Wyandotte is a breed well suited for homesteading or the backyard of a suburban family. They enjoy being fussed over and are known to be child friendly.

They are dependable layers of eggs even through the winter it is said, and also round out to a decent size for table fare.

They are docile, non-aggressive birds although not exactly ‘lap chickens’.

Wyandottes are said to be talkative and noisy so this could be problematic if you have close neighbors.

They make fabulous ‘project’ or 4H birds since they are calm and affable, which also makes them a show ring favorite. The Mid-western States of America and the country of Germany really enjoy showing their Wyandottes and the breed usually show very well winning many awards.

Summary

The Wyandotte chicken in all its’ varieties of color is a firm favorite in many countries around the world.

In my opinion, for sheer stunning looks and contrast, the silver and gold laced show the best.

The allure of this bird is probably a combination of several things:

  • It is calm.
  • Docile demeanor which makes it great for a family bird or the show-ring.
  • Dependable layer even through the winter months.
  • A reliable setter and great mother.
  • The stunning array of colors and patterns available.

The Wyandotte chicken is easily recognizable from the shape of its body and the rose comb.

Do you keep any Wyandottes, if so what colors? Let us know in the comments section below…

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Comments

  1. JoAnne Ryan says

    I have silver and gold laced Wyandotte. I find them no trouble but not really friendly. They are a good all around bird. visitors love them for their coloring and calmness. When one became egg bound she was very calm while I was caring for her, the minute she was better, no more pet status!

    • Renee Smith says

      I purchased 6 silver laced only to find they are all hens , happy about that but I cant seem to find a silver laced rooster any help you can give would be appreciated..

  2. Karin Kelly says

    I have a silver lacy wynadotte in my flock and she is wonderful. I bring her out of the run and let her free range for a while and she loves it. She gets along well with the other breeds and is a great layer.

  3. Linda Arcidiacono says

    I have one silver laced and two golden laced Wyancottes all around one year old. I raised them since 2 days old. I am having a difficult time with the golden ones feathers on their butts and back. There are none. I have tried vitamins and high protein food and snacks because part of the problem originally,was stress because their original coop was too small. At that time I saw some pecking by the others and I applied BluKote to deter this habit and heal the area. Now since February they have a large very nice coop and I can not understand why their feathers are gone and not growing back.. I have checked for lice, etc and do not see any. I had to put up a shade cloth to prevent them from getting sun burned. I am at my wits ends.I do not see the others pecking them, but I do see them pecking themselves Please help.I love my hens and am a loss of what else I can do for them. Thank you so much for your kind help. I love your website and informative newsletter, etc.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Thank you for your kind words Linda 🙂

      Please send us an email with some photos of them and I will try to help,

      Claire

      • Jerry Nielsen says

        Claire,
        I have the same problem as Linda, only one columbian wyandotte, and the rest are assorted. I also have tried more protein enriched foods etc. but sadly no luck. I hope you can help me with this problem. I have a rather large run 25′ X 15′ with 10 chickens. Thanks for your help.

        Jerry

    • susan perkins says

      Hi, I have my favorites, the black sex link, and gold wyandotte , and another breed that is unfriendly and skiddish (auracauna?). Mine free range in mountain forest during day and secured at night, Have never had any pecking, pulling or feathers missing, just molting in fall and occassional mites (avoid wheat straw i use hay for coop and nest boxes). I think it could be the confined spaces because always a bully or three that harass. I also try to rid the community of bullies (harassers at nitetime and food time) by giving to families wanting a small number of chickens or layers.

  4. Brianna Broyles says

    I have 3. 2 adult, and 1 about 12 weeks. The 2 older ones are the black and silver (although they look more white than silver) and my little one is black and gold. The 2 older ones are good to hangout all day with my Rhode Island Reds (and my little one has a RIR to hangout with also).

    I have noticed that the older ones are for sure #1 on the pecking order and they will chase off and take food from the others.

  5. Bonnie Braga-Chavez says

    I’ve had Silver lace Wyandottes, they are excellent egg layers. However, if you decide on the breed do not have them with other breeds, they are very dominant! I had a flock of 24 birds,that were equal numbers of Wyandottes and Americaunas…the Wyandottes were very dominant over the Americaunas, and they were all free-range!

  6. Sandra Aucoin says

    We love all of our 8 wyandotte chickens, five Silver laced and three Colombian. They are fun to watch with their different personalities and chatter. The Colombians tend to be “bossy” but docile. They are all good egg layers but we bought them to eat bugs and grasshoppers since we don’t eat meat or eggs.(We give our eggs away to the Salvation Army).
    They do their job by keeping the bugs & grasshoppers under control without insecticide.
    They are now 4 and 2 years old and very entertaining.

  7. Sharon K Robinson says

    I have two gold lace wing Wyandottes and two Black jersey Giant hens. They get along well. Were raised from chicks bought at local farm supply store.
    Were purchased in early June and got first egg on Nov 1. Since then they have produced 3-4 eggs daily.
    One of the jersey wanted to brood – got her some fertilized eggs, within 2 days she decided ‘nope’ not for her. All that sitting around doing nothing I guess.
    After just a few days she went right back to producing her egg a day. She is an especially friendly girl – loves hugs and cuddles. In fact, demands them!!!!
    Because of a bird dog as a pet, I can’t let them free range – but they do have a run and seem happy with that – as long as I throw them in some grass clippings and weeds every day.
    Their eggs are very easy to peel after boiling – the shells practically fall off – not the messiness of most eggs. Don’t know why.

  8. leanne teachey says

    I have a black laced and blue laced hens!
    Get 2 med. eggs/day every day of the week. They love to be outside scratching and carrying on. I so enjoy them!

  9. Retha Traylor says

    We have a two year old silver lace, excellent layer. She is the only one out of 8 hens that won’t let me pet her. About a week ago she almost lost her life to a Fox, the fox had her by the neck and my hubby went running to her the fox dropped her, and she and one of our other girls went running back to the run and right into the coop! We check her out she lost some feathers but was ago. She actually laid an egg later that day. We have not let them free range since. They are not happy girls! We live out in the county woods all around us, had chickens a year now, this is first time we have had a Fox come right up in the middle of the day.

  10. jacques says

    I am new in keeping wyandottes. I have 2 golden laced roos and 3 silver laced pullets. What will be the result if I allow them to breed?

  11. Kelly says

    We have 3 blue laced red Wyandottes amongst our flock of 32. They were hatched April 2018 and were the last chicks we bought for the year. They share a coop with close in age black sex link and calico princess. I did notice they stick together, will talk, consider themselves HIGHEST in the coop and are a bit fussy. We call them our “Aunt Bea” Chickens because of their large, fluffy behinds. It’s the funniest sight when they run through the yard. They LOVE being picked up and scratched and will come when they’re called by name. We just got a regular Wyandotte chick today and she’s quite friendly. Can’t wait to see how she turns out.

  12. Katie Heldman says

    We had a social, gentle Silver-Laced for about a year who died suddenly during a dust bath. She was my favorite; she liked to hang around us and she was so statuesque and beautiful! Our neighbor also has a gentle Silver-Laced who broke her leg several years ago. The vet set it, she convalesced peacefully in the kitchen for a couple months then went back to her life like nothing ever happened.

    • Cindy says

      One of my very first chickens was a silver laced wayandotte named Silvia, Silvie for short. Unfortunately, she fell victim to a hawk at 3 years old, I often miss her. Since she was my only wayandotte, so I don’t know if she was typical for the breed or not. She was not a lap chicken per say, but did form a strong bond with me and would purr and chatter softly to me when I was around. She was always gentle about taking treats from my hand, even when the other chickens were going for the same treats. While she didn’t specifically come perch on my lap, she would willingly let me pick her up to check her weight and inspect her for mites. As a chick she had an independent streak and would range farther from me than the others would when I would take them out of the brooder to explore outside. But would “check in” frequently by calling to me to make sure I was still there. If I didn’t answer right away she’d get a little panicky and start looking for me. As she grew and moved to the coop she would watch for me and begin calling to me as soon as she saw me. When allowed to be out ranging as an adult, she continued to check in with me periodically. Whether it would be coming up on the porch to peer into the screen door, or coming over to inspect what I was doing in the yard or garden. Although I didn’t specifically try to teach her, she did learn her name and would eagerly come running when called. Even if she was in one of her favorite foraging spots. She was also a very dependable layer. Typically laying 5 eggs a week unless molting. I’ve decided to expand my flock this spring and opted to add 3 Columbian Wayndottes. I’m hoping they have similar traits to Silvie. While I would be thrilled if they have the same level of friendliness as Silvie, I’m not expecting them to learn their names and come when called lol

  13. Fred Cureau says

    Can Wyandottes do well in sub-tropical climates given shade and cool water? I have also seen articles that said that they can’t fly well and need only minimal fencing. Is this true?

    • B.Ogwynn says

      My gold laced wyandotte couldn’t exactly FLY but it could hop on a 6 foot fence with hardly a start at all. But that was when she was younger and leaner. under a year old. But she did want to sleep in the trees until i built an enclosed run. Given the chance they will explore the neighborhood.

  14. Michael S. Kelly says

    Great article, thank you. One demur from me, however: we have two Wyandottes, and both lay cream-colored eggs (their earlobes are cream-colored, as well, despite rose comb and wattles).

    One of our two, Wendy, has gone broody, and we can’t seem to break her of it. She has been psycho-chicken from the get-go, however, and this could just be stubbornness. Any thoughts?

  15. Gordon Hill says

    We had two buff laced and one silver laced bantams. They laid cream coloured eggs but when one of the girls was in the coop laying, the other two used to shriek and squawk; the noise was horrific! As they were infrequent layers we put up with it but as we live in a residential area we eventually sold them at market.

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