Can you name a breed that is a dynamo at laying eggs but also has a sweet personality and is sex-linked? If you said “Golden Comet,” then you are correct. But maybe you haven’t been introduced properly to this plucky little hen. The Golden Comet chicken breed is not really a recognized breed, but it does offer everything you could want from an egg-laying chicken for the backyard.
Today, you are going to learn about this wonderful hen and why you should consider a Golden Comet or two for your yard or farm.
Golden Comet History
The Golden Comet is known by many names: Red Star, Golden Buff, Gold Sex-Link, and Cinnamon Queen. Historically, they are one of the most successful and popular sex-linked chickens. They are the offspring of a New Hampshire rooster and White Rock hen. Nothing else works!
Since sex-linked chickens are hybrids or crossbreeds, they are not recognized as official by the American Poultry Association (APA). But that doesn’t make them any less special. The Golden Comet is an incredible breed that has given the Rhode Island Red much competition. Due to their unique genetic makeup, the Golden Comet chicken develops much faster than many other breeds and has a much higher level of egg production.
As for sex-linking, it means that the sex of the chicks is discernible from birth. The females look different from the males. This is excellent for places where chicken keepers cannot have roosters on their property. Unfortunately, since Golden Comet roosters are not desirable, any males that are hatched are not kept alive.
Therefore, most Golden Comets that you procure from a rescue or purchase from a hatchery or breeder are going to be female. You could potentially make Golden Comet chickens of your own and raise the males as well.
Physical Characteristics of Golden Comet Chickens
There is no breed standard for the Golden Comet, but that does not mean there are no characteristics of this hybrid. You can expect Golden Comets to be small — around 4 pounds on average for hen. Males are around 6 pounds when mature. They have an inverted U-shape to their bodies, and the ladies hold their tail feathers high. These are confident birds, and they look as such.
Golden Comet plumage is more reddish-brown than gold, but there are some chickens with slightly lighter feathers. Others may have honey-toned feathers or white under the red. Their combs are bright red and upright, as are the earlobes and wattles. Golden Comets have orange eyes, and their beaks are either bone-colored or yellow.
Lastly, their legs are not feathered. You can see the yellow skin and four toes on each foot.
As chicks, the females have chipmunk-like stripeing down their backs and tend to have darker down.
Personality and Temperament of a Golden Comet
The Golden Comet chicken is loved for many reasons. Their personality and disposition is one of their advantages. Anyone who is looking for a flock that won’t cause drama is going to love Golden Comet hens. They are laid back chickens who are gentle and friendly enough to be picked up and carried around. There is not a single aggressive bone in their bodies, even after laying eggs.
Golden Comets who are retired from egg production are often sent to rescues, then adopted by people in search of a companion. They are also affable enough to get along with other members of a mixed flock. However, for the best results, keep your Golden Comets with other gentle breeds, like Orpingtons or Cochins. Whenever there is an argument between two hens, there will never be a Golden Comet involved. In fact, they are more like the mediators or peacekeepers of the flock — they are that relaxed.
Other times, they will flee the scene of a scuffle, as they would rather peck at grit or search for bugs. Overall, Golden Comet chickens are sociable and low maintenance. Their agreeableness also makes them perfect for children or those who are inexperienced chicken keepers.
Golden Comet Egg Production and Broodiness
If you are looking to amplify egg production, then the Golden Comet is for you. These chickens are known for laying medium and large sized eggs that are brown in color. They compete regularly with Rhode Island Red hens, meaning they can lay up to 6 eggs a week. That is about 330 eggs per year per chicken. Making money off of eggs will be easy with these ladies around.
Golden Comet hens begin laying their eggs early — around 16 weeks old. Compare that to other popular egg-laying breeds:
- Rhode Island Red: 18-20 weeks
- White Leghorn: 16-17 weeks
- Barnevelder: 18-20 weeks
- Plymouth Rock: 18-20 weeks
- Hamburg: 20 weeks
- Buff Orpington: 24 weeks
Up to the 2 year mark, a Golden Comet hen is highly productive. After that, their production rates begin to taper off. Egg laying halts around the 3 year mark, sometimes sooner. Keep in mind that younger pullets will lay slightly smaller eggs than you might expect. Don’t worry, these brown eggs get much larger over the next couple weeks of maturation.
These hens are not known for broodiness. The nature to lay on and protect their eggs has been bred out of them. Therefore, unless you have some old hens who love nurturing eggs, you are going to need to procure an incubator to hatch some Golden Comet chicks of your own.
However, if you want to make your own Golden Comets, do not try to get two Golden Comets together. You will need a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen to make a Golden Comet. Otherwise, you can easily find Golden Comets available from hatcheries around North America.
One Egg-Laying Quirk
There is one noted idiosyncrasy of this breed: they like to lay their eggs in strange places when younger. The pullets often mature so quickly that they have no idea what they are doing when they start laying eggs. Be prepared to find eggs in random locations. Optionally, you can set up the coop and nesting boxes to encourage your young Golden Comet ladies to lay in more appropriate places.
Here are some methods to get your chickens laying in the right location:
- Provide plenty of comfortable bedding in the nesting boxes
- Immediately remove freshly laid eggs from the nesting boxes to keep your chickens from getting confused
- Hang curtains on the nesting boxes to give your ladies privacy
- Place decoy eggs — like Easter eggs or golf balls — in the nest boxes
- Clean the nesting boxes regularly to keep out mites and other parasites
- Keep the coop secure so that predators cannot get in
Health Issues and Caring For Golden Comets
When they have optimal care, Golden Comet chickens have a lifespan of 4 to 5 years. Up to the third year of life, Golden Comets generally have little to no health problems, minus the typical lice, mites, and other parasites. Since they were bred to put out a lot of eggs, their lifespan has been shortened considerably; they also tend to decline rather quickly.
Your Golden Comets may wind up with reproductive issues, too, including egg yolk peritonitis and tumors.
Therefore, to care for these chickens, you should focus on giving them high quality chicken feed and allowing for supplemental treats. They are gentle and like being around people, so you can let them free roam once in a while as well. Since they are highly self-sufficient, you won’t have to babysit them too much, either.
Feeding Golden Comets
Although these chickens knock egg production out of the park, they do not require any special feed. You can give them a 16% layer feed. It will be enough most of the time, but when they molt you should switch to 18% or 20% protein. They are going to need it to maintain higher levels of egg production while regrowing their feathers.
Also, it is important that you give these hard-working hens plenty of grit. Keep oyster shell or other types of chicken grit in separate containers. The calcium in the oyster shell will preserve the quality of their eggs and make them taste better.
Finally, ensure these chickens — as with all breeds — have access to cool and clean water throughout the day. Do not let them get dehydrated or overheated.
Setting Up a Space for Golden Comets
While these chickens are small and have a shorter lifespan, that doesn’t mean they require less space. You still need about 4 square feet for each chicken in the coop. The reason you want to give your chickens plenty of room is to prevent poor behaviors like bullying and feather picking. The happier your chickens are, the more eggs you will get.
You should also ensure each chicken has about 10 inches of roosting space. Many chickens want to be able to perch without a neighbor squeezing in beside them. Golden Comets will also appreciate a nesting box that is 12×12 inches, though three hens can easily fit inside one nesting box (and will not have an issue with that arrangement).
Lastly, these chickens may do well with confinement, but they also love to roam. You should keep them in a pen most of the time then provide supervised free ranging. This kind of freedom will keep your Golden Comets happy and fit. In turn, they will be healthier and lay better quality eggs. Consider what is within the run or your yard, too. Piles of leaves, stumps, logs, and other objects can provide ample entertainment.
Final Thoughts on Golden Comet Chickens
Hybrid chickens like the Golden Comet are excellent for those who are beginners at keeping chickens or who have a small backyard. These birds are on the smaller side but are prolific egg layers for the first two years of life. However, they also make wonderful pets, especially for those chicken owners with children running around. Expect only great things from the Golden Comet chicken 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.