Looking for a chicken that can load you up with hundreds of eggs within the span of 2-4 years? Then you are going to love the Amberlink hybrid chicken. The Amberlink is a hard-working chicken that has all the traits someone running an egg business would want, including a friendly personality. But is the Amberlink chicken right for your flock? This complete breed and care guide is going to tell you everything you need to know about the Amberlink. Let’s get started.
- Amberlink Breed Overview
- History of the Amberlink Chicken
- Pros and Cons of Hybrid Chickens
- Amberlink Chicken Appearance
- The Personality of Amberlink Chickens
- Egg-Laying and Broodiness
- Caring For Amberlink Chickens
- Final Thoughts on Amberlink Chickens
Before getting into the details behind the hybrid breed, let’s look an a glimpse of its characteristics:
|Appearance||White feathers with an amber tint|
|Egg Production||270 eggs per year|
|Habitat Size||4 square feet per bird in a coop|
|Cost per Chick||US$2-$5 per chick|
The Amberlink chicken is not an easy hybrid to come by, but they are often sold by the same hatcheries that have ISA Browns on the list. As a hybrid, they are not accepted by the American Poultry Association or any other body. That does not mean, though, that this breed lacks any history or substance. As a hybrid, the Amberlink is created through a complex process that involves Rhode Island Reds and White Plymouth Rock chickens. Sometimes ISA Browns are also used.
However, the creation of an Amberlink is a little like playing the lottery. Often, the chicks end up as one of the parent breeds. About 50% of the time, you get an Amberlink chick. Interestingly, even breeding two Amberlink chickens together does not guarantee more Amberlinks. Genes are unpredictable at best — same as with people.
Yet, Amberlinks are highly sought after, because when they are born, they carry with them the best of both worlds when it comes to laying quality eggs.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Chickens
Before moving on, there are some things pertaining to hybrid vs purebred chickens that need to be addressed. Hybrid chickens and their pedigree parentage have much in common, but the differences that do arise can make your life as a chicken owner slightly more complicated. Here are some things to keep in mind about hybrid chickens like the Amberlink:
- Hybrids can lay eggs throughout winter without pause
- Amberlinks and other hybrids rarely go broody
- Uniquely beautiful appearance
- Excellent egg production
- Egg production drops significantly after 2 years old
- Hybrids have shortened lifespans
- Amberlinks and other hybrids have health problems, like egg-binding
- Do not make good chickens for meat
- The hens are poor at parenting
- Breeding hybrids is difficult and time-consuming
Many Amberlink owners will tell you that the positives far outweigh the negatives, but you do need to consider how this affects your flock. For those who solely want a decent group of egg-laying chickens, Amberlinks do the job extremely well, but they do run into far more health problems than a purebred Orpington, Rhode Island Red, or Plymouth Rock chicken.
The Amberlink looks very similar to other white chicken breeds, such as the Delaware. When seen from afar, it is hard to distinguish the two. Up close, the speckles of amber on the Amberlink’s feathers become more noticeable.
Surprisingly, when Amberlink chicks first pop out of the egg, they all look the same, regardless of their sex. The fuzzy yellow down stays with them for the first few weeks. It is with your pullets and cockerels that you begin to see any difference. Females — pullets — get amber colored speckles on their feathers, while the males tend to be more rusty. At this point, you will know whether or not you have obtained an Amberlink or not.
Medium-sized, the female adult Amberlink is going to be larger than the male, since they have been altered to lay more eggs. Hens tend to weigh around 6 pounds, while males are between 4-5 pounds. Upon reaching maturity, female Amberlinks have soft white feathers tinged with hints of amber. This coloring is predominantly on the neck, wings, and tail. Roosters will have more darker speckles on their necks, back, and chest.
Since genes are complex, there are instances where Amberlink chickens are smaller or larger than anticipated. It seems that, despite being bred with the large Rhode Island Red, that size trait does not carry over. For that reason, Amberlinks are often far smaller than their parents.
One of the advantages of owning an Amberlink or two is their personality. For this reason, someone with a little experience caring for chickens may find themselves entranced by this breed. They are gentle, curious, and playful chickens who like people. They are also easy-going and fairly tolerant of things happening around the yard. Even the males are docile and fairly aggressive.
Amberlinks get along with other animals, too. You can mix them in with other chickens, though it is recommended that they are partnered with other docile breeds. Otherwise, Amberlinks could be bullied.
Here are some breeds that are best with Amberlinks:
Egg-Laying and Broodiness
As hybrids, Amberlink chickens develop rapidly and can start laying eggs within the first year of life. During this time, they may lay several eggs a week, averaging around 270 eggs a year. However, some breeders note that egg-laying during the first year can be sporadic. Furthermore, during the second year of life, the rate of egg production for Amberlinks drops by as much as 20%. This may not seem like a big deal, but hybrids tend to cease laying eggs around 3 years old.
The good news is that Amberlink chickens do not fall off the egg-laying wagon during the winter. They will continue to lay eggs, even when it is cold and dreary. Therefore, if you have other egg-laying breeds whose productivity tapers off in the winter, you can supplement those numbers with an Amberlink or two.
Even though the Amberlink is a generally low maintenance bird, this is one breed that needs a lot of love and care.
Known Health Issues
Most chickens deal with worms, lice, and mites at least once in their life. Amberlinks can deal with those issues, as well. Yet, hybrid chickens are typically susceptible to health concerns that are considered rare among purebreds. Their egg-laying prowess is the cause, as it puts more strain on the body and the bones. This is also the reason for their much shorter lifespan. Here are some of the health concerns you should be aware of before owning an Amberlink:
When a hen ends up with an egg stuck inside the oviduct, that is a condition known as egg binding. This happens more commonly with hybrid chickens, since they lay eggs much more often than heritage breeds. Egg-binding is life threatening. Sometimes water, a warm bath, and some calcium move the egg along, but there may be instances where your Amberlink hen needs to visit an emergency vet to treat this issue.
Harder to spot but just as common in hybrids, egg peritonitis is when a yolk enters the body cavity. The area where the yolk goes will become inflamed. Your chicken will display discomfort, abdominal swelling, and other symptoms. Since this is a serious condition, your Amberlink hen will need to be treated with antibiotics and fluids at a veterinarian’s office. Left untreated, the chicken will die.
Laying hundreds of eggs a year puts a strain on the reproductive system. Sometimes, the oviduct turns inside out, resulting in prolapse. You can treat prolapse easily, but once it happens, there is an even higher chance of it happening again. Usually, a diet change assists with preventing prolapse. If prolapse goes untreated, though, there is a high chance that the hen won’t make it very long.
As mentioned numerous times already, Amberlink chickens have had their egg-laying abilities enhanced. In turn, they are vulnerable to illness. One of the best ways to keep them from getting sick is to provide a highly nutritious diet.
Starting at a young age, the chicks should receive a high quality starter feed that falls within the range of 18-24% protein. This is necessary for the first 6 weeks. After that, you can decrease the amount of protein in their feed to about 16%. Do not go any higher than 18%.
Be careful that you do not overfeed your Amberlinks, because that could cause a painful health condition known as prolapse. Treats are fine but should be given in moderation. Supplements are also a smart addition to their diet, including Vitamin A 2500 IU, Vitamin D 1000 IU, Vitamin K, and a B-vitamin complex. You should also provide probiotics, cod liver oil (for appetite), and mealworms for protein.
Amberlinks require a minimum of 4 square feet of space within the coop and about 10 square feet per chicken outside of it. They are medium-sized and prefer to have some room to move around. The coop does not need to be set up any special way to accommodate these chickens. Be sure to set the perches at varying heights and with enough room for each hen to get comfortable. Nesting boxes can fit 2-3 hens, depending on the size.
Amberlinks are excellent at foraging and finding their own food; they prefer it this way. In short, if they are not given the space to roam, they will become unhealthy. You do not want a stressed out hybrid! Provide them with a yard that is safe from predators and with plenty of shade. They are resilient and can avoid danger, but they do need a place to stay out of the sun in the summer.
Amberlink chicken are among the sweetest breeds out there, but they also have a short lifespan and a fair share of health problems to be conscious about. That does mean they are a bit more difficult to take care of, and so the Amberlink chicken is not recommended for beginners. However, if you are looking to start an egg production business, these are one of the best hybrid breeds for it. So are you going to add Amberlinks to your flock?
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.