Are you looking to develop a small or medium sized flock that produces loads of eggs without fail? Then you are going to want a hybrid chicken like the California White. Fast-growing and highly productive, these hybrids do well in backyards and farms. There is much to learn about the California White chicken, especially if you are unsure whether this breed is right for you. Thankfully, you have found this complete breed and care guide on California Whites!
California White Chicken History
You may be able to tell by the name that California White chickens are an American breed that can be traced to California during the 1930s. During that period, commercial meat and egg production was at an all time high, and farmers needed chickens that could keep up with the demand.
Enter the California White, a sex-linked hybrid that comes from White Leghorn hens and California Gray roosters. Many of the physical attributes of the California White come from White Leghorns, making them difficult to tell apart when they are in the same flock. Meanwhile, the docility and resilience of this breed comes from Barred Plymouth genes, which are found in the California Gray.
For those who are unfamiliar with California Grays, it is a breed that was formed by crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster with a White Leghorn hen. Since the California Gray was not recognized by the American Poultry Association, neither is the California White.
California White Chicken Physical Characteristics
Since the California White is not a recognized breed, there is no breed standard for you to follow. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a charming bird to have around. Being that California White chickens tend to look a lot like White Leghorns, there are many people who cannot spot the difference right away.
Males weigh around 7 pounds, and the females are around 5.5 pounds when fully grown. This makes them only slightly larger in weight than Leghorns, but they also stand a little more upright than both California Grays and Leghorns. Furthermore, California White chickens have much larger combs than their parent breeds.
Generally, California White hens and roosters are completely white with red wattles, combs, and earlobes. However, they will, on occasion, have small black spots on their lower backs or tail feathers. They have long primary flight feathers, giving them the ability to fly a short distance. You will often be surprised by where California Whites end up; this doesn’t mean they are Houdinis, though. As long as you have tall perimeter fencing for the chicken run, you won’t have any escapees.
Temperament of California White Chickens
There are many chicken keepers who will say that California Whites tend to behave distant and oblivious, but that depends on which breeds you compare them to. For example, California White chickens and Silkies are very different, but they are both sociable in their own way. For other keepers, California White chickens are friendly, interactive, and love to be around people and other animals. They will even like it when you get them a few pets.
California White chickens are adaptable and resilient. They can endure smaller spaces when they have enough room to move around. Weather also does little to upset them, and the hens will lay plenty of eggs throughout the year, including the winter. You can also allow this breed space to free-range. Though they may not have the same survival instincts of some purebreds, they are vigilant and curious.
When compared to their parent breeds, California Whites are far less vocal than Leghorns. This makes them all the better for suburban living. In short, the California White chicken breed is ideal for beginners and those who want an adaptable, easy to care for chicken.
Lifespan of California White Chickens
For many chicken breeds, the lifespan is up to 10 years. But that does not apply to hybrids. Due to the special genetics of hybrids like the California White, these chickens tend to live shorter lives than their purebred brethren. The average lifespan of a California White is around 5 years, but this can be influenced by their genes, diet, veterinarian care, disease control, and other aspects of their environment. Some California Whites can live up to 8 years, for instance, when they receive the best of care.
Egg Laying & Broodiness
If you are looking for an egg-cellent egg-layer, then the California White is your hen. Being that they are a hybrid breed, they tend to lay more eggs per year than purebreds. California White pullets also mature much more quickly than non-hybrid chicken breeds, so they begin laying eggs around 17 weeks old. As the hens fully mature, they start laying a prolific amount — around 5 eggs a week, averaging around 300 eggs per year.
Interestingly, California Whites can produce more eggs per year than their White Leghorn mother. Each egg is considered large to jumbo-sized, and they are pure white. This is one of the main reasons people choose California Whites. Their eggs are picture perfect.
Now, there is one thing that can either be a plus or a minus, depending on your goals for keeping chickens. There are some instances of California White hens going broody. Other owners have reported that their California White hens have never once gone broody, but then there are those who have had several of their California Whites end up mothering fertilized eggs, including ducklings.
Being that Leghorns aren’t broody in the slightest, it comes as a surprise to many that their California Whites tend up broody. Therefore, you never really know if your hens are going to decide to be mothers or not — it’s a toss of the coin with this hybrid breed.
tIn this video, you can see what chicks of this breed look like when they are 1 week old:
While most people add California Whites to their flocks for the 300 eggs per year, there are some who also want to use their chickens for meat. With the California White, you get the best of both worlds. Around the time a California White starts producing less eggs (around the 2nd or 3rd year of life), they are also ideal for the dinner table, particularly the roosters. In fact, it can be hard to find male California Whites for sale, because most hatcheries raise the roosters for fertilization then send them to the slaughterhouse.
In short, if you want to raise your chickens for both meat and eggs, the California White is a good breed for that.
How to Care For California White Chickens
The California White is the result of a cross-breed between a California Gray rooster and White Leghorn hen. Genetically, these hybrid birds are exceptionally hardy and healthy. They have far less issues than some hybrids, like the Amberlink. Here are some care tips for California Whites, so you can keep them around for longer:
Caring for your California White chickens also means providing adequate housing. Although this breed is fine in smaller spaces, that doesn’t mean you should cram as many as you can into the chicken run or coop. You want a coop that is well-ventilated yet secure from any predators who come sneaking around at night. Maintain a clean coop, and ensure the nesting boxes are arranged for your California Whites to have a comfortable place to settle in and drop an egg or two.
Ideally, you want around 8-10 square feet per chicken out in the yard. For the coop, you can lower the space to 4-6 square feet per chicken. The ample space ensures that your California Whites stay happy and healthy, as they can get many stress-related illnesses.
Feeding & Nutrition
Just like all breeds of chicken, California Whites require a nutritionally balanced diet that is full of vitamins. Without the proper nutrition, your hens won’t be able to lay eggs, and your chickens will not have tasty meat. Since California Whites are bred with commercial egg-laying in mind, they will need a lot of calcium and protein to support egg formation. California White hens are usually fed a layer mash mixed with protein crumbles or pellets for that reason.
Furthermore, you should provide your flock some treats on occasion. The best way to do this is to allow your backyard California White hens to forage for their snacks. They are experts at seeking out bugs, grubs, and worms around the yard or garden. They also love to nibble grass and vegetables.
Don’t forget to provide your chickens fresh water and grit throughout the day. For California Whites, they will need twice as much water as they do chicken feed.
Owning chickens might seem like a lot of work, but the California White is one breed that you can place in your yard and let them do their own thing. Though, they would much prefer it if you interact with them. Similarly, keeping them healthy requires a little space, premium quality chicken feed, and clean water. But they will be even healthier with some kindness, pets, and treats.
California White chickens are susceptible to many of the diseases that affect other chicken breeds, including mites, worms, and other parasites. Since they are prolific egg-layers, they can also become egg-bound easily. Egg-binding sometimes fixes itself on its own, but if you notice that your California White hen is struggling, you need to get her to the veterinarian as soon as you can. Egg-bound chickens sometimes die from the condition.
California Whites can also become stressed when they are neglected or do not have enough room. Stressed chickens often resort to feather picking, cannibalism, and egg-eating.
Where To Find California White Chickens
Ready to bring the hybrid California White home? You can find chicks from the following breeders in the US:
If you plan on buying chicks, they usually run between $1.85 and $5.00 a piece. This depends on the gender (with males being cheaper), and whether you want the chicks to be sexed or not. You can also find full grown hens and roosters for around the same price, maxing out at $7.00 for a point-of-lay female.
If you are looking for a chicken breed that is low maintenance but gives you loads of eggs throughout the year, then you should look into the California White chicken. Capable of laying up to 5 eggs a week, the sociable California White can give you everything you need. They are also quiet and serene, making them ideal for the backyard. So why not consider bringing some California White chickens home 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.