When you are just starting out as a chicken owner, you want to choose a breed that is resilient and forgiving. Otherwise, you will end up with a yard filled with chaos and clucking. Enter the Columbian Wyandotte, a beautiful bird with loads of personality. The Columbian Wyandotte has everything a beginner is looking for in a bird, including a calm attitude, hardiness, and foraging skills. But is the Columbian Wyandotte right for your yard and flock? Let’s find out.
Columbian Wyandotte Breed Overview
Here is a chart to show you the characteristics of the breed:
|Appearance||Black feathers on neck and tail, white everywhere else|
|Purpose||Eggs, meat, and companionship|
|Egg Production||180-200 eggs per year|
|Temperament||Docile and calm|
|Minimum Coop Size||4-6 square feet per bird|
|Price||$3 to $20 per chick|
History of the Columbia Wyandotte Breed
During the 1870s, the first of the Wyandotte breed was developed in New York. The name Wyandotte is supposedly derived from a Native American tribe — the Wendat — that used to live in the area. That said, the breed has no association with the natives. In the beginning, Wyandottes were actually known as Sebright Cochins or American Sebrights, but the name changed when the American Poultry Association accepted the breed.
The Columbian color is not the original. The Silver-Laced Wyandotte was the first color to be developed and was recognized by the APA Standard of Perfection in 1883. To create such a color, the breeder selected Dark Brahma and Silver Spangled Hamburg chickens for their genes. After that, White and Black Wyandottes were introduced by B.M. Briggs from Rhode Island. Later, the Columbian Wyandotte was produced by crossing a White Wyandotte with a Barred Plymouth Rock.
As you can imagine, the fluffiness of the Plymouth Rock contributed to the density of the Columbian Wyandotte.
The “Columbian” part of the name is in reference to where the breed variation first made its appearance — at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Because it was the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus coming to the Americas, the Wyandotte variation received such a name.
Between 1889 and 1893, Briggs was the only breeder producing Columbian Wyandotte chickens. In 1906, the Columbian Wyandotte was also accepted by the American Poultry Association.
Interestingly, the Wyandotte Standard and Breed book that the APA published does not mention the Columbian Exposition as the first showing. Rather, they reference the Providence, Rhode Island Show of 1894 as the main appearance. Perhaps this was due to Briggs first selling the stock that same year. Two years after showing the Columbian Wyandotte in Rhode Island, Briggs sold the entire stock.
He eventually took up breeding Columbian Wyandottes again and was able to get chickens descended from those of his original line.
Since then, the Columbian Wyandotte has secured a level of popularity among chicken lovers. You can find them bred throughout the US. Getting your hands on some quality chicks will not be too difficult, and you do not have to anticipate spending a fortune on chicks or breeding pairs either.
Breed Standard and Appearance
If there is one thing that separates the Columbian Wyandotte from all other variations of this breed, it is its fantastic appearance. The Columbian Wyandotte is unique among its brethren for its bright white plumage and gorgeous lacing around the neck. Along the wingtips, black lacing can be seen. Their tails are usually solid black, but white lacing is also accepted.
The Columbian Wyandotte has an elegant stance. The short body is low to the ground, and they have a long back, wide neck, and loose feathers around the legs. You will notice more of the lacing around the rooster’s neck because their body is more V-shaped than the hen. Their earlobes are bright red and oval. Roosters grow longer wattles than the hens. Reddish orange eyes are made brighter by the yellow of their beaks, which also matches the scales on their legs.
Both the rooster and hen have rose combs that lay close to the head, giving them extra protection from frostbite.
A Wyandotte hen averages around 6-7 pounds when fully grown. Roosters grow a bit larger, reaching 8-9 pounds.
Columbian Wyandotte Personality and Temperament
Any variation of the Wyandotte breed is an excellent choice for those who are taking their first steps to becoming a chicken keeper. This breed has a personality and temperament that makes them well-loved. Calm, tolerant, and friendly, Columbian Wyandottes are the kindest souls of the flock. They are happy to be a part of a mixed flock and will get along with most chickens.
That said, Columbian Wyandottes do rank high in the pecking order naturally. They will not bully, but they are not pushovers.
However, the one failing of the Wyandotte breed is that they also like their independence. Too often, chicken owners have reported a lone Columbian Wyandotte hen wandering too far from their rooster and getting scooped up by some predator. This is one of the reasons why, despite the Wyandotte loving to forage, they must be fenced in to prevent any hens from getting lost.
Another potential downside is their noise. Columbian Wyandottes are talkative and will cluck and chortle throughout the day. Roosters have a loud crow that could be annoying to the neighbors or break a noise ordinance in suburban places.
Egg Laying and Broodiness
Do you want chickens that lay hundreds of eggs throughout the year? You are in luck. The Columbian Wyandotte hen is dependable when it comes to that. A single Wyandotte can produce around 200 eggs per year. That includes eggs throughout the winter. The eggs are usually medium to large in size and can be either light pink, brown, or even darker — closer to chocolate — in color. Since the hens go broody once in a while, you can also use Wyandottes for the eggs of hens who are less inclined to be mothers.
That said, their broodiness is not frustrating. Most owners do not mind their broody Wyandotte ladies.
Typically, Columbian Wyandottes are ready to start laying eggs around 6-7 months old. They will continue laying consistently up to 3 years old. After that, eggs become less frequent until production drops off. However, some Columbian Wyandotte hens surprise their owners with eggs throughout their lifetime.
There are no health issues that are associated directly with the Wyandotte breed. The one thing you need to be careful about is their plumage. Since the feathers can be dense, the vent area sometimes becomes sticky or matted with droppings. Should this become a problem, trim or shave down the feathers around the vent.
Additionally, the thickness of the feathers predisposes your Wyandottes to heat-sensitivity. Make sure the coop is well-ventilated and that they have shaded areas to cool down in the summer.
Otherwise, keeping your Columbian Wyandotte healthy is easy. Provide nutritious food and clean water throughout the day. Supplement with a couple of snacks, such as fresh vegetables and fruits. Give them a secure coop in the evening. Furthermore, you should have a trusted veterinarian who can administer vaccinations and other care when necessary. Keeping your chickens up-to-date with vaccinations can prevent many terrible diseases.
Caring for Your Columbian Wyandotte
Although Columbian Wyandotte chickens are easy to care for, there are some things you need to keep in mind. Apply these care tips to keep your roosters and hens happy:
Being that the Columbian Wyandotte can grow quite large, the chicks need all the help they can get in the beginning. Aim for a starter feed with about 20% protein. Around the time your chicks are about 16-20 weeks old, you can start reducing their protein intake to around 16% protein.
Whenever your Columbian Wyandottes begin to molt, boost their protein intake to around 18-20% protein once again.
Keep in mind that Wyandotte hens do lay quite a bit of eggs. They are going to need adequate nutrition, including calcium, to continue laying eggs. The best way to supplement their egg-laying is with crushed oyster shells, which are rich in calcium.
Since the Wyandotte is such a large bird, you are going to need more space in the coop for them to move around. Inside, they need a minimum of 4-6 square feet per chicken. A little bit more wiggle room will not hurt. Also, make sure your Columbian Wyandotte chickens have about 8-10 inches of space on the perches. This will ensure they have enough room to perch safely. During the hotter months, Wyandottes like to sleep apart from one another to stay cool.
In order to tempt hens to lay in the nesting boxes, each box needs to be the standard 12 inches by 12 inches.
When outside, Columbian Wyandotte chickens need room to roam. However, these chickens are less vigilant and sometimes clumsy, making it more difficult for them to escape predators. For that reason, fence in an area where your Wyandottes can walk around without any danger. They cannot fly well, so the fence only has to be high enough to keep predators from getting in.
Columbian Wyandottes, along with other varieties of Wyandotte, are known for being more resilient to the cold than other breeds. They have dense plumage that insulates them against the cold. The rose comb on their heads is also less likely to suffer from frostbite. Thus, if you live in a colder climate, your Wyandottes will be fine. They will adapt more easily to a temperate climate than to one with high humidity.
When the temperature rises, make sure you offer your chickens cool water, plenty of shade, and a ventilated coop.
Final Thoughts on Columbian Wyandotte
The beautiful Columbian Wyandotte is a breed of chicken that is great for beginners and advanced homesteaders alike. They have a wonderful temperament, are low-maintenance, and can also provide you with a bounty of eggs. Wyandottes are also good for meat production. So if you are searching for chickens that are easy to handle and friendly, consider the Columbian Wyandotte or any of the other varieties of the breed.
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.