There are many breeds of chickens out there in the world. Some of them are dual purpose. A few are ornamental. Many are ideal for laying eggs. One of those hybrids that are ideal for getting hundreds of eggs throughout the year is the Black Star chicken. With a name that sounds like a rock band, the Black Star breed is an established choice for backyard chicken keepers and homesteaders. But is the Black Star chicken breed right for you? Let’s find out.
History of Black Star Chickens
During the aftermath of World War II, the world was suffering from disrupted supply lines and economies. In order to satisfy populations that needed more staple foods, breeders started attempting to combine demands. Returning troops could not support the troops returning from Europe, nor the number of immigrants who had arrived ashore. Thus, many egg-laying chicken breeds were combined to see which ones made the best hybrid.
One of the most successful combinations was that of the New Hampshire or Rhode Island chicken with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen. The result was the Black Star or Black Sex-Link chicken. The combination of New Hampshire or Rhode Island roosters along with a Barred Plymouth Rock made a chicken that could consistently lay eggs throughout the year. Plus, you could immediately tell apart males and females as soon as they hatched.
Well into the 1950s, Black Star chickens were the popular choice for egg production. These days, Black Star chickens are a favorite among homesteaders and those with small yards. The hybrid continues to churn out massive amounts of eggs, so if your goal is hundreds of eggs, then you should consider this chicken.
Breed Standard and Appearance of Black Star Chickens
The Black Star chicken is a beautiful bird, there is no denying that. Medium-sized when fully grown, females are around 5 pounds. Roosters reach around 7-8 pounds. A single red comb matches their wattles and ear lobes. Black Star chickens have stunning plumage that is usually black with some golden or reddish-brown flecking or streaks around the breast, neck, and back. They have reddish-orange eyes that seem to match the golden feathers on their breasts.
Being that Black Star chickens are related to Barred Plymouth Rocks, you can expect some of your chickens — namely the roosters — gaining some bars on their feathers. There is some evidence that Black Star chickens also have iridescence on their backs. You can find pictures where Black Stars have blues and greens in their black feathers.
Both sexes have clean legs with yellow skin and four toes on their feet. They walk upright, and they hold their tails at an angle. In short, Black Star chickens look like the rock stars they truly are.
Sex-Linked Chicks Appearance
Want to know how to tell apart Black Sex-Link chicks after they hatch? Both males and females are covered in a fuzzy black down. However, the males will have a white patch on their heads. Later, as the males mature, they grow white barring on their feathers. The females, on the hand, will retain a solid black look. As they mature, the feathers on their heads and necks start to change color.
Black Star Personality and Temperament
What makes the Black Star breed so likable and sought after? Perhaps the fact that they are incredibly friendly and adaptable. Black Star chickens are low maintenance and inquisitive. They will do well in many climates, and they will forage without fail throughout the day. Depending on how you raise your Black Star chickens, they can be curious, friendly, and downright cuddly. Black Star chickens love people, especially children.
Generally, Black Star chickens do not make a lot of noise. If you have a number of neighbors around you, they will not be disturbed by your flock. The hens may only raise their voices when they begin singing an egg song or when roosters are raising alarm. Roosters are not very aggressive and less territorial than other breeds.
They do crow, however.
It is recommended that you give your Black Star chickens plenty of space to roam. They love foraging, and it gives them something to expend their energy. However, if you do not have a lot of space, Black Star chickens can adapt. They tolerate some confinement and will not give you much trouble either way.
Egg Production and Broodiness
One of the greatest benefits of owning a Black Star chicken is their tremendous level of egg production. Black Star hens can lay around 5 eggs a week, which amounts to around 300 eggs. The eggs are brown and large or extra-large in size. No wonder they are called “egg-laying machines.”
Black Stars rarely pause their egg-laying, unless they are allowed to go broody. Molting will also slow the process. Temperatures and the time of year do not do much to influence egg-laying, however. Around 20 weeks old, Black Stars become mature. Egg laying commences around this time, and they will not stop until they are old.
That said, like most prolific egg-layers, Black Star chickens start to slow their egg-laying after two years old. They will still lay a lot of eggs, but you can expect a 20% decrease each year after their second year.
Additionally, Black Stars are not broody. Due to their lack of maternal instinct, they will leave their eggs as soon as they lay them.
Breed Black Star Chickens
Do you want to raise Black Stars on your own property? You are going to need a New Hampshire or Rhode Island rooster, as well as a Barred Plymouth Rock hen. What does that mean? That you cannot have a Black Star rooster mate with a Black Star hen and get Black Star chicks.
If you breed two Black Sex-Links, you get something else. You may get another kind of chicken with a mixture of traits present in their parents. As with all hybrids, Black Star chickens do not breed true. Keep that in mind, because it can make getting these chicks more challenging.
It is recommended that you go to a reputable breeder. You will know exactly what you are getting!
Health Issues and Care Tips of Black Star Chickens
In general, Black Star chickens are strong birds that remain incredibly healthy. So long as your chickens have food and a place to safely sleep, they will be able to deal with a lot. Yet, as like most chickens, Black Stars are not invincible.
Black Stars can suffer from the same health conditions as other chicken breeds. Mites, lice, and other external or internal parasites can infest your chickens. Make sure you are keeping the coop and run clean. If you want to boost your chickens’ immunity, add some apple cider vinegar to their water supply. Crushed garlic in small amounts can also help your chickens ward off potentially harmful bugs.
Also, do not overlook the necessity of vaccines. By taking your chickens to a veterinarian routinely, you could protect them from more dangerous diseases, including fowl cholera.
Lastly, Black Star chickens are adaptable to temperature changes, but that does not mean they should be exposed to the cold. Black Stars need plenty of shade and fresh water in the summer. In cold climates, they will need insulation in the coop, particularly around the nesting boxes. If your chickens get cold and wet, you will need to gently dry them off.
Reproductive Issues Black Stars Face
One of the issues that any egg-laying machine faces is reproductive disease. Hybrid chickens tend to mature, lay, and age at a faster rate, meaning that they wear out their organs more quickly than other breeds. Black Star chickens may not be as susceptible as other hybrids to egg yolk peritonitis and egg binding, but it can still happen.
If you see your chickens behaving strangely, such as acting uncomfortable or suddenly ceasing egg-laying, you should be on high alert. Weight loss, dulled plumage, and discharge are all signs that your chicken is unwell. Make sure you have a reliable veterinarian to bring your chickens whenever they get ill. You do not want to let reproductive issues go untreated, because your chickens could die prematurely.
Feeding The Black Star Chickens
Chickens, regardless of their breed, are omnivorous. Varied diets that are founded on premium chicken feed are the best. Your chickens should be given protein-rich foods as well as snacks like insects from foraging, vegetables, grains, and even small amounts of meat. However, being that the Black Star chickens are such prolific egg layers, you should consider boosting their diet to support their production efforts.
Chickens have three life stages. As such, their diet changes to meet their needs at the time. Be sure to give your chicks a starting feed that is around 18-24% protein.
When a hen is producing the maximum amount of eggs per week. They will need more amino acids and proteins, so give them around 16-18% protein layer feed, as well as treats. Keep in mind that the minerals and vitamins present in eggs is a direct reflection of what the hens will need after laying those eggs. Be sure to provide treats and supplements that boost calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
How Long Do Black Star Chickens Live?
Hybrid chickens sometimes burnout fast. Black Star chickens tend to live between 3-8 years. Around 3 years old, your Black Star chickens tend to lose most of their egg-laying abilities, though they could continue on for a little longer. You could choose to keep these chickens in retirement and enjoy their companionship. However, some backyard chicken keepers would rather use these older chickens for their meat and replenish their egg-layers.
Caring For Your Black Star Chickens
Now that you know that Black Stars are susceptible to some illnesses and reproductive issues, you should know how to keep them happy and healthy. Here are some essential tips in caring for your Black Stars:
- Fresh water. Chickens tend to get their water dirty, so make sure you are cleaning it out often. Otherwise, your chickens could pick up disease and parasites.
- Diet and nutrition. Your Black Stars need at least 16% protein feed. Be sure to give them nutritional treats to boost their mineral and vitamin intake. Egg-laying hens need a little more protein.
- Nesting boxes. Make sure the nesting boxes provide at least 1 square foot of space for each chicken.
- Grit, and plenty of it. Your chickens need grit to help them get more calcium and for digestion. Crushed oyster shell is highly recommended.
- Regular cleaning. Be sure to clean the coop out at least once a week. Scrub and disinfect the coop, as that is where most chickens end up getting sick. Also, ventilate the coop throughout the day to help clear out any ammonia in the air.
- Plenty of space to move. In the coop and outside, your Black Star chickens should have room to stretch their wings. Enclose their run to keep them safe from predators, but do let them roam.
Final Thoughts on Black Star Chickens
The Black Star chicken, also known as the Black Sex-Link chicken, is a marvelous addition to your flock. These are the rock stars of egg-laying. Can you imagine what you could do with 300 extra-large eggs every single year? Plus, you get the benefit of sex-linked chicks. These are friendly and gentle chickens, and they are also low maintenance and easy to raise. In short, if you do not have Black Star chickens in your flock already, you should definitely consider getting some!
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.