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
The 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!
Appearance and Standard
The 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.
The 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?
The 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.
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…