Looking for a chicken breed with a striking appearance, that lays plenty of eggs, and has a good personality? Sure, many chicken breeds may be able to fit the bill on two out of the three. The Sapphire Gem is one that checks all the boxes. Even though the Sapphire Gem is a hybrid not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA), there are plenty of reasons to bring one or several of these little beauties home. Today, you are going to learn all about the Sapphire Gem chicken breed and how to care for them. Let’s begin.
Sapphire Gem Overview
Before looking at this breed of chicken, here are some of the most important characteristics:
|Appearance||Blue or lavender plumage|
|Egg Production||280-300 eggs per year|
|Egg Color||Large or extra-large brown eggs|
|Necessary Coop Size||Minimum 4 square feet per chicken|
|Price||$3-$5 per chick|
History of the Sapphire Gem
Currently, there is not much known about this new hybrid known as the Sapphire Gem. In fact, many breeders that do have Sapphire Gems in stock will have very little say in the description. There is even some debate as to what constitutes a real “Sapphire Gem.”
What is for certain is that the Sapphire Gem chicken first originated in the Czech Republic, when a breeder decided to cross a Blue Plymouth Rock with a Barred Plymouth Rock. If you were thinking that Sapphire Gems look like Blue Plymouth Rocks, now you know why.
As such, the Sapphire Gem is related to the heritage breed, Andalusian, which has been around since the 1800s. Fascinatingly, the Andalusian breed has a blue gene and is known for their excellent winter egg production. Both the Plymouth Rock and Barred Plymouth Rock breeds were created in Massachusetts around the 19th century. Sapphire Gems get their coloring by carrying a dominant blue plumage gene. Being that they are hybrids, you cannot breed two Sapphire Gems and get more Sapphire Gems, unfortunately.
Also, presently, despite already being popular in the US, Sapphire Gems can be difficult to find. Keep your eyes open and don’t stop searching until you get a couple, though. These chickens are worth the effort to obtain.
Sapphire Gem Appearance
Since Sapphire Gems are hybrids and not considered an official breed, there is no breed standard. Yet, due to their parentage, most Sapphire Gems end up having the same unique look.
Chicks, pullets, and cockerels all have varied appearances and are sex-linked. You can tell the males apart from the females very early on. Males will have a white spot on their head, while the females have a “necklace” of either gray or golden spots around the neck. The rest of their bodies may have tones of blue, gray, lavender, and black.
Adult Sapphire Gem chickens will be mostly bluish or grayish in color, though there have been some with a lavender tint. Roosters keep the white spot on their head from birth, and hens keep their necklace of grays and golds. Sapphire Gem chickens have single red combs, as well as red wattles. Their beaks and legs lean towards black or gray in tone. The skin around their dark eyes is a light red, and their earlobes will have some white.
When fully grown Sapphire Gem hens are medium-sized and are between 4-6 pounds. The rooster is slightly larger, around 5-7 pounds.
Check out this review of the breed below to see this breed’s beautiful looks in action:
Sapphire Gem Temperament and Personality
Being that Sapphire Gems are related to Plymouth Rock and Barred Plymouth Rock chickens, they share the same personality characteristics as their parents. For the most part, these are quiet, calm chickens that lean more towards friendly than aloof. They are curious but in a lazy kind of way. They will not try to get into trouble, and they tend to remain relaxed wherever they find themselves.
Accordingly to Hoover’s Hatcheries, Sapphire Gem chickens were bred to be this way. Furthermore, Sapphire Gems were bred to be affable towards other chickens. They will do well in a mixed flock but will be towards the lower end of the pecking order, as they are not aggressive. Instead, the Sapphire Gem will spend its time foraging and observing the world around them.
They are alert of their surroundings at all times, keeping them out of danger. You can also rely on Sapphire Gem chickens to alert the others should there be danger nearby.
Sapphire Gem chickens are relatively low maintenance, making them perfect for beginners who want easy-going hens. You can even let your children play with them, since these chickens do not mind being cuddled.
Egg Laying and Broodiness of Sapphire Gem
If you are looking for a lovely breed of chicken that lays plenty of eggs throughout the year, then you are going to love the Sapphire Gem breed. They were bred for the purpose of excellent laying, which also means they are not the best for meat production. However, that does not mean you cannot use them for both purposes. Most people simply prefer the eggs laid by their Sapphire Gems and the companionship, seeing how these chickens live 5-10 years.
When fully matured and healthy, a Sapphire Gem hen can lay up to 300 eggs a year, amounting to around 5 eggs per week. Around 18-24 weeks old, young hens start laying. After the first two years, Sapphire Gems lose about 20% of their egg production capabilities.
Due to the name, many people believe the Sapphire Gem is related to another breed called Sapphire, which lays blue eggs. However, this breed lays large or extra-large brown eggs.
One of the reasons Sapphire Gems are easy for beginners is their lack of broodiness. These chickens lay plenty of eggs, but they are not going to get defensive about you taking those eggs away. You do not have to worry about getting pecked or dealing with an aggravated mother hen. The downside to less broody chickens, however, is that hatching their eggs can be difficult, unless you have a willing hen to adopt those eggs.
Caring for Sapphire Gem Chickens
The care requirements for most breeds of chickens is similar. The Sapphire Gem is much like Plymouth Rocks, so if you have any experience with those, you already know that you need to be successful. For those who are just starting out with owning and raising chickens, here is what you need to know:
Sapphire Gem chickens are resilient hybrids. They are robust chickens that do well in most climates, so long as they are given plenty of water. With a bit of love and care, Sapphire Gem chickens rarely come down ill or develop health conditions. The only thing to watch out for is what applies to every breed: parasites, lice, and worms. No matter how healthy or resilient, parasites will affect all chickens. Thus, keep the coop and run clean.
Also, know the symptoms of more dangerous diseases, such as coccidiosis, avian influenza, and fowl pox. Any of these could infect your chickens, if you are not careful.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Sapphire Gem chickens do like to roam. They do not like limited space, and they like to have their own personal bubble around them. If you do not provide enough space for them to explore, your Sapphire Gems are going to feel stressed and depressed, which could impact their egg laying and overall health.
As such, make sure you set up some kind of entertainment to keep your chickens from getting bored. Free roaming, treats, and toys can help ward off boredom.
Temperature and Climate
One of the main advantages of the Sapphire Gem chicken breed is that they are hardy. Sapphire Gems may be single comb chickens, but they do well in the cold. You must take precaution when letting them out in freezing weather or when it is snowing, though, as they can get frostbite on their combs. In the winter, ensure that the coop is warm. If your coop is having trouble staying warm, consider purchasing a coop heater to keep the temperature comfortable for your birds.
During the summer, Sapphire Gems are going to need plenty of water. Also, give them some cold snacks, such as frozen vegetables and fruit. Make sure there is shade around the run and over the coop. Plus, the coop should have windows or roof ventilation to keep the interior cool.
Feeding and Nutrition
All chickens need adequate nutrition from the moment they are born to the day they pass. Knowing what to feed your chickens based on their life stage is important. Sapphire Gem chicks require loads of protein to assist with development. Begin feeding them with an 18-24% protein starter feed. As your Sapphire Gems grow a bit older, you can drop the amount of protein down to around 16%.
Hens, particularly those that lay loads of eggs, are going to need plenty of protein and calcium. Provide your hens with high quality chicken feed and oyster shell supplementation. You should also consider giving your flock the occasional treat for fresh fruit and vegetables to cover any nutritional gaps.
Coop and Free Ranging Setup
For Sapphire Gems who do not like much containment, you will need about 4 square feet of space per chicken within the coop. If you can give them a little more, do it. They will be much happier.
Allow your chickens to roam whenever possible. Keep in mind that Sapphire Gems are very aware of their environment. They can sense any potential danger quickly and will warn their fellow chickens right away.
If you do not have enough space for your Sapphire Gem chickens, then you are going to need to make the space larger. They will possibly get bored or depressed, which will affect the mental and physical health of these birds.
How to Breed Sapphire Gem Chickens
Chickens are relatively easy to breed, because you do not need to do much to encourage reproduction. You can introduce your Sapphire Gem hens to a Sapphire Gem rooster and see what happens. Now, you should be aware that hybrids do not breed true. In other words, Sapphire Gems are the result of a Plymouth Rock and Barred Plymouth Rock, and so you cannot create them any other way. Two Sapphire Gems give you something more akin to Plymouth Rocks in appearance.
But don’t you worry — they are all Plymouth Rock chickens at heart. You may even get a Sapphire Gem chick with a stroke of luck.
Otherwise, it is recommended that you seek out a reputable breeder to get yourself a healthy batch of Sapphire Gem chicks.
Final Thoughts on Sapphire Gem
So what do you think? Is the Sapphire Gem chicken right for you? Although the Sapphire Gem chicken breed is newer than most, it is a worthwhile chicken to add to your flock. Sapphire Gems are friendly, hardy, and magnificent at laying eggs. Being that they are a mix between Barred Plymouth Rock and Plymouth Rock chickens, they look absolutely stunning and have excellent personalities. Do keep in mind, though, that this breed is currently a challenge to find in the US.
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.