The Amberlink chicken is described as egg laying royalty in the poultry industry because of its ability to lay beautiful, hard-shelled eggs without much fuss!
People seldom consider them for the backyard, which is a shame because they have many endearing qualities that make them backyard gems.
The Amberlink chicken breed is laid back but hardy, and if you want more eggs, this could be your perfect chicken match!
To learn more about Amberlink chickens, this guide will look at their history, personality, egg laying, and general health.
What are Amberlink Chickens?
Amberlink chickens are also known as Dekalb Amberlink or the Hy-line chicken and are derived from the ISA Hendrix genetic line.
NOTEThey are hybrid chickens, meaning they are produced by crossing two purebred chickens.
The chicken breeds that are part of the Amberlink line include the Rhode Island Red, White Island Red, and White Plymouth Rock. Usually produced by crossing two pure breeds. Amberlink chickens can be hard to come by because of their unique breeding process.
One cannot breed two amberlinks together to produce an Amberlink chick, and that’s why you’d need to find a specialized breeder if you wish to add this hybrid breed to your flock.
The History of Dekalb Chickens
Amberlink chickens became popular during the 1970s in the United States after they were successfully cross bred from breeds such as the Rhode Island Red.
These hybrid chickens have impressive egg laying capabilities, and today they are highly popular among small farmers and in commercial egg production.
Why Amberlink Chickens are Preferred to the ISA Brown
An Amberlink chicken can retain its feathering, which means fewer molts and constant egg production. It also means that they tend to perform well in cold climates, something that has made them one of the most popular hybrid breedings of all time.
TIPTo keep them healthy and hardy, provide your Amberlinks plenty of space to free range and access to a secure shelter, protective against the summer heat and cold winters.
The Purpose of the Dekalb Amberlink Chicken
The Amberlink was bred specifically for its commercial egg laying capacity and has certainly not disappointed!
Because of their easy-going nature and exceptional egg production, more chicken keepers are making these birds a part of their flock.
The Appearance of the Amberlink Chicken
The Dekalb Amberlink is primarily white, with light brown to red feathers. The hens have red to amber tones in their wings and tail compared to the roosters with brown to red plumage across the neck, wings, saddle, and tail.
They have yellow legs and red wattles, and earlobes in both males and females. These hybrid chickens are not heavily feathered and possess many of the physical traits of the other breeds in their heritage.
The Amberlink Rooster
The roosters have long legs with beautiful cascading saddle and tail feathers, and a very large single comb with five points. They also develop incredibly large wattles once they mature, so you’ll need to take some extra care in cold climates to prevent these fleshy parts from suffering frostbite.
TIPYou can apply petroleum jelly or coconut oil to the combs and wattles of your chickens in winter to protect them against frostbite.
Size and Weight
The hens weigh between 4 and 5 lbs, whereas the roosters weigh 5 to 6 lbs. There is no bantam variety in this breed.
Amberlinks chickens are a reverse cross. If you breed two amberlinks together, it will produce offspring that are more unpredictable in terms of growth, egg laying, and overall color compared to their original hybrid parents.
How to Tell the Sex of Amberlink Chicks?
Birds of this breed are sometimes also known as Amber Sex Link chickens, because you can tell the difference between the hens and roosters from feather sexing.
Before they reach 10 days old, you will notice that the male has one set of feathers, while females start developing two sets of feathers at the same age.
Are Amberlink Chickens Good Layers?
The purpose of the Dekalb Amberlink was to deliver high egg production for commercial purposes, and therefore they make excellent layers for backyards.
The hybrid hens are also considered better layers than the pure breeds from which they are crossed.
At What Age Do Amberlink Chickens Lay Eggs?
Amberlink hens can lay as young as 5 months or 18 weeks, but most will start producing brown eggs at 20 to 21 weeks of age.
What Size Eggs Do Amberlinks Lay?
Your Amberlinks will produce large sized eggs at the peak of their egg laying season. Each brown egg will weigh an average of 60-63 g by the time the hens reach 70 to 90 weeks of age.
How Long Do Amberlinks Lay?
They will reach the peak of their egg laying season at 2 to 3 years old, after which they will lay fewer eggs every year.
DID YOU KNOW…Amberlink egg production decreases by 15-20% per year once hens reach maturity.
Do They Have High Egg Production?
You can expect around 270 eggs per year, or 4 to 5 eggs per week. Some Amberlinks lay more eggs, reaching 300 eggs per year.
If you have multiple egg layers, you might need the best egg washer to help wash eggs quickly and easily.
Are Amberlink Chickens Good for Meat?
Because these hybrids were simply bred for laying eggs, they don’t get very big, meaning they do not generally make a good meat bird.
Do Amberlink Chickens Get Broody?
As consistent layers and hybrids, they aren’t broody nor reliable mothers either, so if you want to hatch eggs then you probably shouldn’t depend on your Amberlink hen to do the job.
Are Amberlink Chickens Friendly?
This breed is active and easy to care for, but just cannot tolerate confinement. They could even become bullies in the coop if they are stressed, so you’ll need a bit of yard space if you want to encourage a healthy flock.
The Amberlink chicken is a social bird and is best kept in a group of four or more.
NOTEWhile most Amberlinks are friendly chickens, there is the odd chance that you’ll end up with dominant hens or roosters.
Are They a Hardy Breed?
These egg layers enjoy free ranging and foraging, and they do well in taking care of themselves. They are popular across the world because of this, and they can tolerate both high and low temperatures.
These heat hardy chickens can perform well in a hot climate, but to avoid issues of stress, they should always have access to shade and a well-ventilated coop space when the heat level rises. Provide cool drinking water and always check that they haven’t tipped their bowls or lost water to evaporation.
TIPIf you cannot check on their water bowls throughout the day, consider an automatic waterer for chickens that is easy to use and beneficial for the whole flock.
If you need a reliable waterer, we have a chicken waterer review and an automatic chicken waterer review that can help you find you.
While certainly heat hardy, this breed can also thrive in cooler weather. They are known for their surprising cold weather hardiness.
Protection From Predators
Amberlink chickens tend to roam quite far from their flock, which increases their risk of becoming prey. I’ve heard many chicken keepers describe how great these birds are at foraging, only to be caught by foxes and hawks.
What Health Problems Do Amberlink Chickens Suffer From?
The Dekalb Amberlink is affected by the usual poultry anomalies, including lice and mites. You can prevent pest problems by providing chickens with a place to use a sand bath.
Problems Related to Egg Production
The hens are prone to deficiencies because, unlike other egg laying breeds that rest their reproductive systems in winter, the Amberlink will use her calcium stores to produce eggs.
The physical stress of laying eggs will take a toll on their bodies, and could lead to early death. Hens are affected by conditions such as egg binding and egg peritonitis because of short, explosive egg cycles.
DID YOU KNOW…Egg yolk peritonitis only develops in laying hens and occurs when the yolk from a ruptured egg or newly forming egg is deposited into the tissues of the body cavity.
Treatment of Egg Disorders
Both egg binding and peritonitis are serious conditions that need the assistance of an avian veterinarian.
Preventing Egg Production Problems
By ensuring that your chickens have a good quality layer feed, access to calcium grit, and a vitamin-enriched diet, you can minimize such devastating ailments; however, in some cases, these egg-related conditions cannot be prevented with just a proper diet.
How to Care for the Breed
To keep these hybrid chickens happy, they should always have space to free range and forage. They are best housed with chickens of similar activity levels in a spacious coop.
When they are placed inside the coop, only use dry litter, such as chopped straw or pine wood shavings. Slick material such as newspaper will risk splaying when jumping off roosts or running across the paper which can cause serious leg problems.
NOTEYou should also avoid large bedding material, such as cedar chips and dusty sawdust that could do more harm than good.
How to Raise Chicks
If you are raising Amberlink chicks, they will need a warm and well-ventilated coop until they can join the older birds.
To give them the best start, clean the brooder space before placing them in it. Chicks are susceptible to diseases such as Coccidiosis, which develops in unhygienic environments.
How to Keep Chicks Warm
Only provide room temperature water for chicks to drink, as this prevents body temperature dropping during cold spells. To keep chicks warm and comfortable, prevent drafts by creating a secure enclosure around them.
NOTEChicks that live in environments of 60 degrees and lower will need supplementary heating until they are at least 6 weeks old and fully feathered.
You can use a heat lamp as an extra source of warmth for very young chicks. Heat lamps are inexpensive and easy to install.
Check out this video for additional info and tips on raising chicks.
As hybrid breeds or reverse cross chickens, they tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to other breeds. The Amberlink chicken has an average lifespan of 4 to 6 years; however, some chicken keepers have reported their birds reaching 7 to 8 years of age.
The Amberlink chicken lays a prolific number of large brown eggs, and as an even tempered bird, they tend to do well in a mixed flock. They are directly related to the Rhode Island Reds, which is the reason for their brown egg color and their independent personalities.
You’ll need a spacious yard and enclosure if you want to keep the Amberlink chicken. They were originally bred to be self-sustaining birds, foraging for their own food.
This means that Amberlink chickens cannot tolerate long periods of confinement, unlike the purebred chickens in their heritage such as the Rhode Island Reds and White Plymouth Rocks.
Is the Amberlink right for you?
To decide whether the Amberlink is right for you, consider just what you are looking for in a chicken.
Do you want heat and cold tolerant birds that are good layers? Can you handle a breed that is prone to health and egg laying issues? Compare the pros and cons of similar breeds to make an informed choice.
Feel Free To Share
If you admire your Amberlink chickens, or you wish to provide this information to other chicken hobbyists who may be interested in the breed, please feel free to share it with them.
Amberlink chickens are a super breed in a lot of ways, so if you end up getting one, great choice!
(1) “Fred” by Liz & Johnny is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
(2) “Fred” by Liz & Johnny is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0