chicken on a field

The Barnevelder Chicken: Complete Care Guide (2022)

If you’re looking for a low maintenance chicken with striking feather patterns and a calm personality, you’ll be thrilled to learn of the Barnevelder.

They are widely known for their egg production and Dutch origins, and have also become a favorite among backyard chicken keepers because of their friendly personality.

In this article, we’ll discover where the Barnevelder chicken came from, why it could be a good choice for your backyard coop, and what their egg laying abilities are.

The History of Barnevelder Chickens

People generally consider the Barnevelder a new chicken breed, and its history can be traced back to an agricultural college of Barneveld, which lies East of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The first recordings of the breed’s refinement came out around 1913.

The college was well-known for its contributions to the poultry industry, as it specialized in the supply of eggs – but when Europe’s demand for brown eggs reached an all-time high, farmers started needing a chicken that would produce eggs at a much higher and faster rate.

a chicken in front of a piece of metal wall
A Barnevelder rooster

Poultry specialists began to cross-breed local Dutch and landrace chickens with imported birds. These other chickens included Brahmas, Langshans, and other hardy breeds that were good layers of dark eggs.

The Wyandotte was also part of the lineage, which could explain the pattern of the double laced Barnevelder.

Optimizing the Barnevelder Breed

One breed that made a significant contribution to the characteristics of Barnevelder chickens was the Langshan. The Langshans improved cold hardiness, winter laying abilities, and brown eggs produced by Barnevelders.

In 1919, the Dutch Poultry Club believed that the breed was too varied to be accepted but thanks to the formation of the Barneveld Breeders Association in 1921, the breed color, conformity, and egg color were standardized.

While the true lineage of this breed is unknown, they’re spectacular chickens, popular in egg production and among backyard chicken keepers.

What Does the Barnevelder Chicken Look Like?

Barnevelder chickens have a rectangular body with relatively small wings that sit high up, making it difficult to fly. They have tight plumage with a beautiful sheen and a high carriage that creates an erect appearance.

They have a single comb with 5 points, along with red earlobes and wattles.

Their eye color is a red bay and they have a horn-colored beak. And, these birds have 4 toes on each foot and yellow legs!

close up of chicken head
Close-up of a Barnevelder hen head

Despite their lineage possibly including the Brahma, they did not inherit the feathered legs of their potential predecessors.

The hens are the most impressive looking in this breed! They have a unique color pattern that creates a v-shaped or arrow effect across the body.

The most popular color type is either the light brown or gold and black laced Barnevelder hen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Only the Barnevelder hens have a double laced pattern across the breast and body.

What Does a Barnevelder Rooster Look Like?

The Barnevelder roosters are black breasted with a red tinge. They have a broad breast, red saddle and neck feathers, and a unique red wing triangle.

You can also find roosters in the silver laced variety, but none have been successfully bred to produce double lacing as you’d see in the hens.

Size and Weight

Barnevelder chickens are comparatively large-sized birds, with roosters reaching 7-8 lbs and hens growing to 6 lbs.

The Barnevelder Chicken Breed Standard

In 1923 they were officially accepted into the Poultry Club of Great Britain and are therefore recognized as a new breed. They are a heavy breed and you should definitely consider their weight and size when installing their roosting bars.

TIP

To prevent injuries inside the coop, as a rule of thumb place roosting bars low to the ground, making it easier for large-sized chickens to jump on and off. This is important for older chickens prone to developing inflammation in their legs and feet.

Double Laced Varieties

In 1991, The American Poultry Association (APA) classified the Barnevelder as a continental breed.

Surprisingly, the original double laced variety is the only type that is accepted by the Poultry Club of Great Britain as well as Holland.

Rare colors such as the double laced partridge have unfortunately since gone extinct.

Here’s what Barnevelder chickens look like today. You can even find an example of a silver laced variety.

Barnevelder chickens

While breeders started with the single laced pattern, the only variety accepted by the APA is the double laced Barnevelder, which is black and gold with a green tinge in the black lacing. The head plumage must be black with a green sheen and the feather color should be even. Any white patches in the feathering are considered a fault and dark brown coloring is preferred.

If you are interested in unique varieties for your backyard coop, you can also find Barnevelder chickens in the following colors:

  • White
  • Double laced blue
  • Double laced silver
  • Black
  • Dark brown and black
  • Chamois
  • Silver Blue

To ensure that the original double laced varieties stay around, the Barnevelder Club of North America and Holland currently focus their efforts on preserving and promoting the breed.

Is the Barnevelder Really Good at Laying Eggs?

As a specially bred production chicken, Barnevelder hens are hardy birds that are great egg layers and would make a wonderful addition to the backyard coop.

While people don’t widely use them in agricultural egg production today, they still remain perfectly reliable layers that could delight any chicken keeper.

How Often Does a Barnevelder Chicken Lay Eggs?

A Barnevelder hen will lay 3 to 4 eggs every week. She will also continue to lay in winter, so while other hens take a vacation during the colder temperatures, you can rely on them to continue to produce delicious Barnevelder eggs!

a chicken in front of a chain link fence
A Barnevelder hen showing its wings

How Many Eggs Will the Barnevelder Chicken Lay?

Barnevelder chickens can lay 200 to 300 eggs per year. The hens’ eggs should weigh 2.1 to 2.3 ounces, each with a tough, yet smooth shell.

What is the Color of Eggs Laid By Barnevelder Chickens?

The original egg color of double laced Barnevelder eggs was dark brown to coffee or golden brown. They can also produce slightly speckled eggs, so don’t be concerned if your new hen lays a few freckled ones!

Do They Still Lay Dark Brown Eggs?

Their brown egg size is medium to large, but the first egg laid by your hen will be quite small. As she matures, the eggs will get larger in size. At the same time, their dark brown eggs will also become lighter in color as they mature.

Because there has been way more emphasis on developing the stunning plumage of these birds, the dark brown eggs they were known to lay are now light brown.

When Do Barnevelders Start Laying Eggs?

Your hen will start laying at around 28 weeks old. Even if she reaches egg laying age in winter, she will start producing eggs in the cold temperatures

Are Barnevelder Hens Broody?

The Barnevelder hen is not a broody hen, so don’t count on them to hatch your fertile eggs! This is based on their history of selective breeding to continue to produce large brown eggs through the seasons. Egg candling can help identify which eggs are fertile, check out the Best Egg Candler review if you need one.

Despite their lack of broodiness, these hens do make good mothers and will tend to their hatchlings with diligence and care.

Is the Barnevelder a Good Meat Bird?

They are a dual purpose breed and with the Barnevelder rooster reaching 8 lbs, they can certainly make a good meat bird.

What is the Personality of a Barnevelder Chicken?

The Barnevelder is a calm breed, and will rarely squabble with other chickens.

2 chickens in a cage
They’re a pretty friendly breed

They are quite relaxed in a large flock, and just as much when kept in a small backyard coop. Along with their versatility, keepers consider them easy to tame.

Are Barnevelders Noisy?

These chickens are also considered one of the best choices for a backyard coop because they are generally quiet and will enjoy the odd chatter with their keepers and fellow chickens.

Sometimes they even seem to listen to you when you speak to them, and will give the odd cluck in response!

You should always monitor Barnevelder chickens in a mixed flock with more assertive breeds. Their easy-going nature means that they can be bullied by dominant chickens. You can avoid this by designing a spacious coop with areas that allow timid chickens to safely retreat from stronger breeds.

Are Barnevelders Flighty?

The gentle temperament of the Barnevelder chicken makes them less flighty than breeds such as the Polish or Leghorn chicken.

The Importance of Free Ranging

These chickens can be quite active, so give them time to free range and you will be rewarded with friendliness and scrumptious eggs. A free range egg is healthier and far superior to store-bought eggs!

A free range egg is healthier and far superior

Because of their docility and intelligence, you can also train them to become a real pet chicken that responds to your calls.

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Train your Barnevelders to become real pets by feeding them a healthy treat like sunflower seeds each time you call. They’ll eventually come when called without the need to feed them treats.

Free ranging allows these birds to find grubs and grass seeds to supplement their diet. It also encourages natural foraging behavior, which makes for a healthy and well-adjusted breed.

Are They Good with Children?

The Barnevelder hen is best raised with children who enjoy interacting with their pet chickens.

chicken sleeping on a branch
A Barnevelder hen resting

Although the rooster is considered calmer than most breeds, the hens are the docile darlings of the coop and love being gently cuddled by kids.

Are Barnevelders Healthy Birds?

Barnevelder chickens are healthy birds, and would thrive in a flock of similar natured birds. Because they are calm and relaxed, they could be bullied by more dominant breeds, and this can lead to stress and feather plucking.

Ensure that your chickens have regular access to a sandpit or box filled with sand where they can dust bath. Dust bathing keeps them clean, and naturally prevents pests such as lice and mites.

chickens rolling on the ground
No need to make an enclosure, just have a specific area for it (1)

Other than dealing with common poultry pests, Barnevelders are healthy and hardy chickens.

Mareks Disease

The Barnevelder chicks are susceptible to Marek’s Disease more so than other breeds. To prevent Marek’s, only buy birds that are vaccinated as hatchlings.

CAUTION

Mareks Disease is a highly contagious poultry virus that causes paralysis in chickens. There is currently no treatment or cure for the illness.

The best way to protect your chickens against this destructive disease is by ensuring that your birds are vaccinated soon after they are born.

Can They Tolerate Heat?

The Barnvelder is a remarkable chicken that can easily adapt to their environment. They should do great in warmer climates, but make sure they always have access to shade and water in very hot, humid conditions.

Remember that the Barnevelder was bred in Europe as a cold tolerant chicken, so they’ll need some help in hot summers.

What is the Lifespan of a Barnevelder Chicken?

With good quality food and the absence of stress in the coop, the Barnevelder can live to 7 years old. Some chickens have lived much longer but this depends on the biology of the bird, their environment, and general care.

Caring for Barnevelders

The Barnevelder is easy to care for and a good choice for first-time backyard keepers. Their gentle personality also makes them easy to handle, so don’t be afraid to five your chicken a cuddle every now and then!

chicken on a log in a coop
A Barnevelder hen on a log

To avoid stress inside the coop, provide your large-sized chickens 4 to 5 square feet of space per bird. You can also add logs or roosts to keep your chickens stimulated, and that would offer a safe space for vulnerable and sensitive birds.

Conclusion

The Barnevelder chicken is such a beautiful bird that it is no surprise more backyard keepers want to add them to their chicken family. Their double laced pattern is unique to the breed and ranges from double laced blue to black and gold.

According to the Barnevelder Club, only the double laced birds are accepted by poultry clubs and associations. Keep that in mind!

Great Egg Layers

What Barnevelders are also well-known for is their immense egg laying ability. They lay darker eggs compared to other breeds, and may produce up to 300 eggs per year, whether rain or shine!

There’s no doubt that this dual purpose bird is one of the hardest working in the world.

Proper Chicken Care

Barnevelders are generally healthy birds but they are at risk of Marek’s disease as chicks, so remember – only purchase vaccinated hatchlings.

You can also keep them stress free by providing them a spacious coop and some time to free range in the yard.

Feel Free To Share!

Please take some time to share this guide with other chicken hobbyists who are interested in adding this breed to their flock or wish to share their knowledge of the beloved Barnevelder.

It could help them avoid purchasing unvaccinated chicks or placing the gentle Barnevelder with assertive breeds in the coop. Barnevelders are striking, gentle, and a must-have chickens for the first-time and seasoned chicken keeper!

(1) Chickens Taking a Dust Bath by sierravalleygirl – licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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Jess Woods
Jess Woods
Founder of Chickens & You. I love raising chickens and creating a self sustainable homestead for my family. I like to spend my time writing and teaching skills for homesteading and self sufficient living. 🐓 👩‍🌾