In the 1800s in Northeast America, a chicken with exquisite feather lacing, cold hardiness, and a friendly personality won the hearts of poultry breeders and backyard chicken keepers alike.
Developed as a dual purpose breed, they provided many families with meat and eggs for over two centuries.
This incredible chicken breed is the Wyandotte chicken and today they are adored all over the world for their unique appearance, their great egg production, and their American heritage.
If you want the Wyandotte to be a part of your coop, we discuss everything you need to know from their temperament to their care, to help you choose the right chicken to meet your needs.
The Wyandotte is an American breed and developed as a hardy and dual purpose chicken to provide a constant supply of meat and eggs for families and homesteaders during the 19th century.
Their existence is owed to dedicated breeders John Ray, L. Whittaker, Fred Houdlette, and H.M. Doubleday who produced the Wyandotte breed as a utility chicken meant for production.
Unfortunately, Wyandottes simply couldn’t keep up with the demand for meat and eggs compared to fast-maturing breeds such as the Sussex and fell out of favor in the production industry.
Wyandotte chickens were refined over a number of years which included the development of their feather lacing and color varieties using several breeds.
Some of these breeds included the Silver Spangled Hamburg, Silver Sebright, Pekin, and Partridge Cochin.
The Silver Laced Wyandottes were the very first Wyandotte produced in Upstate New York in the 1860s. They were closely followed by the Gold Laced Wyandotte that made its first appearance in Wisconsin during the same period.
The Silver Lace variety received an official breed standard in 1883 and in the 1890s made its way to the UK with the Gold Laced type.
Why are They Called Wyandottes?
The breed was named after the Native American Tribe, the Wendat or Wyandot people, who assisted European settlers in the area with food and general aid.
NOTEThe Wyandotte chicken was originally called the American Sebright because the laced plumage was similar to that of the Sebright chicken.
But once these birds were recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA), they were called Wyandottes in honor of their Northeastern origins.
As Wyandotte numbers grew during the 1880s, they were exported to Europe where they caught the attention of British poultry hobbyists at local poultry shows.
They reached the height of their popularity in the UK in 1904 when people were looking for beautiful hens to adorn their coops.
Are Wyandottes Rare?
The Silver and Gold Wyandottes are not considered rare; however, the color varieties such as White, Blue Laced Red, Silver Pencilled, and the Columbian Wyandotte are much harder to find because they are only bred by Wyandotte enthusiasts and breeders clubs.
DID YOU KNOW?The Silver Laced Wyandotte was paired with the Dark Brahma to produce Silver Penciled Plymouth Rocks.
Wyandottes are available in a multitude of stunning colors and whether you are looking for the original Silver Laced Wyandottes or the rare White and Blue Laced variety, these chickens are a must-have for beginner and seasoned chicken keepers.
Because they are friendly, hardy, and stunning in appearance, they have become more popular than ever, for the backyard coop.
The Wyandotte is a large and heavy bird with a full breast and broad body. They have a bright red rose comb along with red wattles and ear lobes. The beak is yellow or a dark horn color while their eyes are orange.
These chickens have yellow legs that are short, sturdy, and clean which means that it is without any feathers.
The roosters have a spectacular cascade of tail feathers that stands at a 40-degree angle. They have four toes on each foot and both the hens and roosters have a short stride.
FACTWyandottes have yellow skin that was purposefully bred for the American meat market because lighter meat was preferred by the consumer.
The hens weigh 6-7 lbs and the roosters 8-9 lbs.
The bantam hens weigh 36 oz and roosters around 40 oz.
Wyandotte bantams were accepted into the APA in 1933 and today they are considered a rare find so you’ll have to look for specialized breeders if you want the bantam variety.
What is distinct about this breed is their beautiful laced feather pattern. Each feather has a dark edge responsible for the lacing in this chicken breed. The Golden Laced Wyandotte has gold to amber colored feathers with black lace while the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte has red plumage with dark blue lacing.
The Silver Laced and the Golden Laced were the first colors produced to represent the breed. The original Wyandotte with its silver and black laced plumage was accepted into the American Poultry Association in 1883.
The Gold Laced Wyandotte was accepted in 1883 followed by the Black, and Buff Wyandotte in 1893, the Silver Penciled in 1902, Columbian in 1905, and the Blue Laced variety in 1977.
There are more colors that are accepted by the Poultry Club of Great Britain (PCGB) compared to the APA because English breeders spent more time refining and developing the breed in exotic feather colors and patterns. Some of the colors that are accepted by the PCGB include:
- Buff Columbian
- Buff Laced
- Blue Partridge
- Silver Penciled
- Gold Laced
- Silver Laced variety
The White Wyandottes are the rarest color variety and were developed from the white ‘sports’ of the Silver Laced Wyandottes.
FACTThe sport is a chick that is a different color from the parents, so if you breed Wyandottes of Silver Lacing and hatch a white chick, it is considered a sport.
Interestingly, the Columbian Wyandotte was produced by crossing the Barred Plymouth Rock and the White Wyandotte.
The Golden Laced Wyandotte resulted from the Partridge Cochin and the Golden Spangled Hamburg while the Buff Laced includes the Silver Laced Wyandotte bred with the Buff Cochin.
The Partridge Wyandotte consists of the Partridge Cochin crossed with the Cornish or the Buff Wyandotte. It is also considered one of the hardest patterns to produce because many other breeds were needed to achieve the perfect color combination.
As you can see, there are many Wyandotte colors but not every type is easy to find. If you are looking for a pure white or Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, then you’ll need to look for specialized breeders in your region.
The different colors of Wyandotte chickens can be attributed to different breeds making them one of the most diverse chickens in the world.
From the Silver and Golden Laced to the Blue Laced Red variety, you are sure to find the perfect color Wyandotte for your chicken coop.
Sexing Wyandotte Chicks
When it comes to telling Wyandotte hens apart from the roosters, the chicks can be tricky to sex.
Some believe in feather sexing at a day old with males having longer wings than females. Others suggest waiting until 4 weeks of age to discern the cockerels from the pullets by their larger combs, wattles, and tail feathers.
There is no sure way to tell the difference between the Wyandotte hens and the roosters until they are a couple of weeks old.
The males have large rose combs with defined points while smaller rose combs are present in females. Roosters will also develop saddle, hackle, and long tail feathers at around 8-10 weeks of age.
Are Wyandotte Chickens Good Layers?
Yes! Wyandotte chickens are good egg layers and can produce up to 200 eggs per year. You can expect to collect a couple of dozen eggs per week if you have multiple Wyandotte hens. With that amount, you might even need an egg washer to spare you the trouble of cleaning each egg.
Compared to other birds that stop laying in winter, these cold hardy chickens will lay straight through the winter months.
If it’s a reliable egg laying chicken that you want, then this chicken breed is definitely for you.
What Color Eggs Do Wyandotte Chickens Lay?
The egg color ranges from light or medium to dark brown. They typically lay large-sized brown eggs with tough shells and deep yellow to orange yolks.
How Long Do Wyandotte Chickens Lay Eggs?
Wyandotte chickens can lay eggs up until 3-4 years of age after which it will become less frequent. The eggshell will also change in color from brown to white as they reach the end of their egg laying cycle.
At What Age Do Wyandottes Start Laying?
Heavier breeds such as the Wyandotte will only start laying between 6-9 months of age. Their slow rate of maturity is also the reason they fell out of favor as production chickens during the 19th century.
Other breeds such as the Leghorn and Australorp start laying eggs at 16 weeks or 3-4 months in comparison.
Can You Eat a Wyandotte Chicken?
You can certainly eat Wyandottes and because of their large size, they are favorable table birds.
Wyandotte chickens are considered an old-fashioned breed and were originally bred for their eggs and meat.
As a dual purpose chicken they are not popular in the industrial poultry sector; however, many homesteaders enjoy the yellow skin and plump proportions of this breed. They are ready for slaughter by 4 months of age.
Are Wyandotte Chickens Broody?
The laced Wyandotte hen does become broody and because of her broad shape and dense feathers, she is perfect for hatching eggs.
They make good mothers and are very protective of their chicks.
Wyandotte chickens are docile and easy to handle but they won’t be picked on by other breeds! They are not bullies themselves but rather strong-willed and happy to mingle with most chickens of a relaxed temperament.
Wyandottes prefer to be with their own kind and are described as a bit aloof when it comes to other chickens but it is best not to pair them with assertive breeds.
As they can be dominant, confining them with dominant chicken breeds such as Malays and Cornish chicken creates stress and increases the risk of henpecking.
They tolerate confinement but should be provided time to free range because they love to forage and will easily find seeds and grasses to eat. Free ranging is a great exercise for chickens and helps prevent stress inside the coop.
Are Wyandotte Chickens Noisy?
Wyandottes love to chat with their keepers and tend to be quite vocal if they aren’t happy about something! If another hen tries to climb into the nest box or they haven’t been allowed time out of the coop, they will squawk and squabble until their demands are met.
Are Wyandottes Bossy?
Wyandottes are high in the pecking order and can be bossy towards gentle-natured chickens such as Barred Rocks, Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, and little Silkies.
Foods to Avoid
Wyandottes love to eat and while natural foraging in the garden is the healthiest way to supplement their diet, many of us spoil our pet chickens with treats that could do more harm than good.
Fortunately, knowing which foods to avoid feeding your chickens can help you prevent problems such as sour crop and unhealthy weight gain.
Avoid feeding your chickens apple seeds because it contains cyanide that disrupts their metabolic system.
Avocado peels have a toxin called persin that can lead to respiratory problems in poultry. Unripe tomatoes are also a no-go because it has solanine, a harmful compound for chickens.
High fat and salty foods should be avoided because it contributes to obesity in chickens. If you feed uncooked rice, beans, and oats, always in moderation as these foods swell inside the crop that can lead to a blockage or rupture.
Wyandotte chickens can reach a natural age of 6-12 years.
If you want a good idea of what it’s like to have Wyandottes in the long term, this video is for you
Is the Wyandotte Chicken the Right Breed for You?
If you are thinking about introducing Wyandottes to your chicken coop, it is important to consider their temperament, their egg production, and their general care.
Wyandottes are wonderful chickens and are popular among homesteaders and backyard chicken enthusiasts because of their friendliness and their beauty.
They make great mothers if you want a broody hen and because they don’t mind being handled, and they are great with children.
This breed is ideal for cold climates because they are heavily feathered and their rose comb won’t suffer from the frostbite that affects large single combs.
From Silver Laced to Golden Laced, if you want a cold hardy, and a friendly bird that is also independent and beautiful to look at, then Wyandottes are the chickens for you.
Wyandotte chickens are friendly birds but remember that they can also be assertive and the more chickens you have, the bossier they become.
It is best to house them with robust chicken breeds such as the Rhode Island Red to avoid them becoming bullies towards timid birds in the coop. Also, they are not good flyers, so a fence of three feet will be enough to contain them nicely.
They are generally healthy and don’t suffer from any ailments but keep an eye out for lice and mites that hide in their dense feathers.
If you are looking for hens to add to your coop, Wyandotte chicks bought at a straight run won’t be sexed. If you want pullets and rare color varieties such as the White or Buff, find a specialized breeder in your area.
What is most attractive about this breed is their incredible color variety and stunning laced plumage. The Silver Laced Wyandotte is the original type and a favorite for the backyard coop but the Golden Laced Wyandotte has become just as popular.
Wyandottes will lay up to 200 brown eggs per year and lay through winter, so you can expect a brown egg size medium to large at least 3 to 4 times a week.
A Laced Wyandotte hen can become broody but she will gladly hatch eggs and raise all chicks as her own.
Feel Free To Share!
If you’ve enjoyed our guide on keeping Wyandottes, please feel free to share with your fellow chicken hobbyists especially those who are interested in adding this heritage and dual purpose breed to their coop.
Still undecided? Check out the Faverolle breed! It’s also a dual-purpose breed but friendlier.