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!

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…

Read More Eggcellent Articles

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!

  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

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *