The Wyandotte Chicken – Everything You Need To Know
Forget about judging a bird by its feathers, because when it comes to the Wyandotte, there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Whether you are just starting to put your flock together, or want to add a few extra members to your already existing flock, this is a breed worth considering.
Our extensive guide will walk you through all there is to know about the grand Wyandotte chicken breed.
Wyandotte In A Nutshell
|Purpose for Breeding
|Egg-laying, exhibition, meat, pets
|Large fowl: 3-3.9kgs (6.5-8.5lbs); bantam: 740g-850g
|Around 200 eggs
|Ease of care
|Meat production time
|Around four months
|Docile and friendly
|Sociability with other chickens
|High in the pecking order
|Sociability with people
|Can be tamed
A Glimpse Into This Chicken’s Background
This authentic North American chicken breed was developed back in the 1870s in and around the New York state area.
Despite there being no historical records of a direct link between the two, its name was adopted from the Wyandotte Nation, a Native American tribe.
The first-ever chickens were Silver Laced and recognized by the nation’s Standard of Perfection until 1883.
The original name of the first Wyandotte chicken was American Sebright.
Although there is no written evidence on the specific crossings that led to the breeding of this breed, it has been argued that Dark Brahmas and Silver Spangled Hamburgs were two of them.
Check out the Wyandotte Nation’s website for further information on this breed’s history.
What Do These Chickens Look Like?
Here are some things you need to know before buying or getting a Wyandotte chicken:
Apart from their wide color spectrum, one of the characteristics that set Wyandottes apart from other breeds is their rounded physique.
They have a relatively short and wide back and neck that continue with a nearly perfect deep-curved lower body. Their legs are bulky and appear quite separated from one another when viewed from the front.
They are a clean-legged chicken, meaning no feathers will ever grow on their yellow shanks.
Their wattles are rather long and their earlobes oval-shaped; both are bright red. This breed’s beak comes in varying shades of yellow and their eyes have a reddish tone.
This chicken has a rose comb, which is a flat type of comb that grows close to the bird’s head.
Generally, rose combs start to form right above the chicken’s beak and can include a sharp end that stretches further back than the rest of the comb, over the back of the head.
Rose combs are less vulnerable to frostbite, thus boosting this breed’s resistance to chilly climates.
Considered a medium-sized breed, the weight of a standard hen reaches about 6.5 pounds or 3 kilograms, while a standard rooster reaches 8.5 pounds or 3.9 kilograms.
On the other hand, the weight of a bantam variety hen is around 26 ounces or 740 grams, while that of a bantam size of a rooster is around 30 ounces or 850 grams.
Read more about this topic on Countryside Daily’s article on Wyandotte chicken breed characteristics.
Recognized Color Varieties of Wyandottes
The American Poultry Association and American Bantam Association decide on what is considered a “standard breed”, and are in charge of recognizing the various breed varieties.
When it comes to the breed there are currently nine recognized large fowl varieties together with ten recognized bantam (small fowl) varieties.
The following descriptions are adapted from the explanations outlined in the book, Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds.
Silver Laced Wyandotte
A Silver Laced Wyandotte hen has a white head with silver hues. Their hackle feathers (or neck feathers) are also white with silver hues and black accents.
This same silvery-white color is found in the rest of their plumage but is instead adorned with black lacing. The majority of the hens’ tail feathers are black.
Male Silver Laced variety have their heads, necks, and saddle parts colored in white with silver hues in addition to having a black stripe that runs down the middle.
The rest of their body follows the same pattern as their female counterparts.
Watch this video of Silver Laced variety raised on a farm and know more about their nature:
Gold Laced Wyandotte
A Golden Laced Wyandotte hen has a bay head with golden hues.
Their hackle feathers are black adorned with golden bay lacing and golden bay highlights. The rest of the body is bay with golden hues along with black lacing only, while the hens’ tail feathers are black.
Their saddle is also golden bay with a black stripe formed by feathers running across the middle.
The rest of the body, with the exception of their golden bay back, is bay with red hues adorned with a slim black lacing. Their tail and wing feathers are black with a touch of golden bay accents.
For both female and male, each and every single one of their feathers as well as the totality of their fluff – from their heads to their tails and silky tummies – should be… white!
According to the antique, yet meticulous book on the 1910 American Standard of Perfection, the biggest challenge when venturing to breed this white variety is to avoid creaminess and yellowish colors.
The plumage should instead be utterly white and may fluctuate from glossy to matte.
Of course, for each yang there must be a yin…
So, again, for both female and male Black variety each and every single one of their feathers as well as the totality of their fluff – from their heads to their tails and silky tummies – should be… black!
According to the 1910 American Standard of Perfection book mentioned above, the biggest challenge when venturing to breed this black variety is to dodge purple shades.
The plumage should instead show a greenish-black color that may, too, fluctuate from glossy to matte.
For both female and male Buff Wyandotte chickens, their complete plumage must be tainted in a golden-tan color.
According to the 1910 American Standard of Perfection guidebook, efforts should be made to achieve an even tone of golden buff. Theo Hewes’ book about Wyandottes in Colors and How to Judge Them reveals the in-depth background of this chicken recognized variety Buff Laced, as well as some of the most common flaws when breeding it.
Partridge hens have either a completely red head or a red head with bay hues.
The rest of the body is pencilled in red with bay hues and black parts.
Male Partridge chickens also have either a completely red head or a red head with bay hues. Their hackles, back, and saddle are shaded in glossy green with black hues and embellished with red lacing.
Black is found in the fore part of their neck, breast, and body.
Their tail feathers are black, while covert feathers (small- or medium-sized feathers that are found on top of – and cover – other larger feathers) have a discrete reddish lacing.
The wings of this variety exhibit a blend of black and red.
Silver Penciled Wyandotte hens have a white head.
The bird’s neck marks the starting point of its body’s black penciling, with the penciling starting sooner on the front part of the neck and later on the side of the hackles.
The remaining parts of the body display a white background with silvery-white, along with black penciling.
A touch of slate is present in nearly all the plumage. Check out efowl’s post on chicken feather patterns to learn more about the subject.
Silver Penciled Wyandotte roosters have white heads, necks, breasts, backs, and legs, with silver hues.
Their wings are pencilled with black, while the majority of their tail feathers are acutely black. Some pitch-dark covert feathers have a white outline.
Columbian Wyandotte hens have a white head. Their body, breast, and leg feathers are also white, while their hackles are covered with white-laced black feathers.
White with black-accented feathers line their wings. Their tails feature the opposite, namely black feathers with accents of white.
Columbian Wyandotte roosters also have a white head. Their body, breast, and leg feathers are white with silver hues, while their hackles, capes, and saddles are covered with white-laced black plumage.
Their wings and tails resemble those of the female.
Blue Wyandotte hens and roosters have a plumage in a glossy black with blue hues that range to slate blue.
The rest of their body is coated with slate blue feathers along with a black lacing and blue hues.
Buff Columbian Wyandotte hens are buff-colored around their bodies, breasts, and legs.
Their hackle plumage is black with buff lacing, while their wings are buff with black accents. Tail feathers counter the wings by displaying black feathers with accents of buff.
Buff Columbian Wyandotte roosters are also buff-colored around their bodies, breasts, and legs.
Their hackle, cape, and saddle plumage is black with buff lacing, while their wings and tail feathers resemble those of the female.
Note that this variety has only been recognized by the American Bantam Association, therefore it only applies to Wyandotte bantam birds.
All previously discussed varieties have been approved for both large fouls and bantam varieties.
More color combinations for chickens are in the making as we speak. In years to come, we will see how breeders work towards having many of these recognized as standard-bred.
Varieties that are already out there, but haven’t been recognized yet, include the Barred, Birchen, Black-Breasted Red, Blue Red, Brown Red, Lemon Blue, Splash, and White-Laced Red.
Read more about these colors in Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds.
Personality And Temperament – Are They Friendly?
Though some may be inclined to seek domination within a flock, these birds are generally gentle and carefree.
They tolerate confinement well and well suited for free-range, so raising them in a part-time ranging fashion (that is, letting them free-range for some hours during the day, and keeping them safely inside the chicken coop the rest of the time) is the ideal scenario for these fancy-feathered fellows to thrive.
Take a look at our article on DIY Chicken Coop Plans: Ideas, Tips and Free Plans to get started with buying or building the perfect coop for your birds.
Wyandottes are acclaimed for their devoted, motherly qualities.
These hens are good mothers and tend to go broody every now and then. In fact, some chicken keepers often rely on them as caretakers of fertile eggs that are not necessarily their own.
Wyandottes For Eggs And Meat Use
This is an outstanding dual-purpose American breed that will perform positively as a layer and/or as a meat bird (1).
Wyandottes are an excellent dual-purpose bird, which can be raised to produce both eggs and meat. They are particularly well-suited for regions that have cold winters.
However, many backyard chicken owners raise and use these chickens as egg layers. They yield around 200 eggs per year and are amongst the few chicken breeds that are sturdy enough to continue laying throughout the winter months.
As meat birds, they provide chicken keepers with the benefits of maturing somewhat quickly as well as having a large, heavy body that provides plenty of meat.
Other than this, this chicken breed is a very celebrated show breed due to its unique, beautiful, and wide range of plumage that certainly outweighs that of many other breeds.
Those of you who are thinking about adding a Wyandotte comrade to an already existing backyard flock, you can take a look at our article on How to Introduce New Chickens!
Where To Buy Wyandottes
Before jumping into purchasing cute little Wyandotte chicks or marvelous Wyandotte birds that are ready to lay, make sure to read our guide on the subject of Buying Chicks or Chickens: Where to Buy Chickens and How to do it?
After you’ve sorted out the basics, all you need to do is decide which Wyandotte variety best suits your chicken keeper aspirations…
When buying mature chickens, you have to go to the nearest hatchery shops.
When purchasing chicks, on the other hand, you have the option of buying from online hatchery stores, from feed stores or local hatcheries, or from local sellers through buy/sell classified shops like Craigslist.
Some of the hatcheries that currently sell Wyandottes are:
- Murray McMurray Hatchery – Usually trades Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks, Wyandotte chicken recognized variety Columbian, White Wyandottes, and a few more. The minimum number of chicks required per order, however, is 15 after April 1st and 25 prior to April 1st.
- Meyer Hatchery – Often has Blue Laced Wyandotte chickens for sale as well as Blue Laced Wyandotte roosters, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, and Columbian Wyandottes. Meyer also has a Silver Laced Wyandotte egg production (for hatching) operation in place. The minimum number of chicks required per order is of 3.
- My Pet Chicken – Usually has Wyandotte chicken eggs for hatching on sale and more.
The Wyandotte chicken recognized variety Silver Pencilled is perhaps amongst the hardest to get your hands on!
If you run into problems with finding the Wyandotte of your choice, try using eFowl, a tool that allows you to connect with hatcheries that supply just what you are looking for.
Chicken Off: The Wyandotte vs. Similar Breeds – Which is the Ultimate Chicken for You?
If you’re searching for other chicken breeds similar to the Wyandotte, here are a few options for you:
This is another true North American, dual-purpose, large breed.
They are known to have an exceptionally docile personality and to make great backyard chickens due to their ability to bear confinement well.
Like the Wyandotte, Plymouth Rock hens make great mothers and are inclined to go broody on a frequent basis.
These pretty birds are originally made to withstand cold weather, but can endure moderate or warm temperatures well, too. Expect them to lay a total of 200 brown eggs per year!
Recognized variations include the Barred, White, and Buff; whereas unrecognized variations include the Columbian, Buff Columbian, Blue Laced, and Silver Partridge.
A British breed at heart, the Orpington is yet another dual-purpose, large breed. They are popular for their friendly demeanor towards humans, their tranquillity in the face of handling, and their capacity to tolerate confinement well.
Like the Wyandotte and Plymouth Rock, these birds are also disciplined mothers.
Orpingtons are better off in frosty climates, but can do well in moderate climates, too.
You can anticipate about 175 to 200 light brown eggs per year.
Recognized variations in the UK include the Blue, Black, White, Jubilee, Spangled, and Cuckoo, whereas variations in the United States include the Buff, Black, White, and Blue.
The Orpington Club delineates all there is know about the breed standards on their website.
Another British breed, the active Redcap is a medium-sized layer breed.
They are generally reddish-brown with black tips in their feathers, and there are no other recognized varieties. They are known to be independent and to some extent, shy.
They are fantastic backyard chickens, because they are able to look after themselves.
Although they can bear confinement well, it is best to keep these birds in a confined-ranging or part-time ranging fashion due to their energetic nature (2).
If this breed is to be contained they will need a high fence or one with a cover to keep them from flying out.
It is best to have a properly secured enclosure with high walls, as these birds are quite good fliers!
Expect between 180 to 220 white eggs and, though they can definitely handle cold climates, for their laying performance to be at their best in moderate to warm climates.
If egg production is of utmost importance to you, go ahead and scan through our post on The Best Egg Laying Chickens to be able to compare some of the most productive breeds available.
Not convinced on Wyandotte or the above? You have alternatives! Check out our ultimate guides to Red Star, Speckled Sussex, Phoenix, and Silkie Chicken breeds for help in determining what breed is right for you. With so many different breeds out there, you won’t be lost for choice!
Bottom Line – Is the Wyandotte Really the Right Chicken for Me?
- You do not have much experience with raising chickens
- You have small children
- You live somewhere cold
- checkYou want a proper layer, meat, or dual-purpose bird
- checkYou want, not only a charming-looking chicken, but one that takes motherhood seriously too…
- checkYou want to show your bird off once in a while!
Then, absolutely… yes!
If you found this article helpful don’t forget to share it with your fowl-aficionado friends and to leave your Wyandotte theories, doubts, or thoughts in the comments section below!
Wyandotte chicken varieties share the same temperament. As with the egg colors, all Wyandotte chickens belong to the same breed, no matter the difference in color. Therefore, they are expected to show more or less the same gentle and outgoing temperament that defines them.
There will always be slight changes in each of the bird’s characters because they are all individuals in the end, but in general, a Silver Laced Wyandotte temperament should not differ much from that of a Black Wyandotte, and so on.
This breed was developed in the Northeast regions of the United States and therefore has gained a reputation for its cold-hardy qualities. In other words, by default Wyandottes are more likely to do well in cold climates than they are in hot ones.
The Wyandotte chickens are considered to be recovering, according to the Livestock Conservancy. In this context, “recovering” refers to breeds that have more than 2,500 annual registrations in the U.S and a global population of more than 10,000, but that still need to be monitored.
Breeds such as the Redcap, Lakenvelder, Phoenix, and Malay, amongst others, are considered to be in critical or threatened status. Learn more about this topic by visiting the Livestock Conservancy website.
- Wyandotte Chickens. Retrieved from: https://www.wyandotte-nation.org/culture/special-interests/wyandotte-chickens/
- Redcap Chicken. Retrieved from: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/redcap
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.