Chicken Breeds: Wyandotte
Silver Laced Wyandotte
The Wyandotte is a popular breed of chicken, known both for its remarkable egg production and for its beautiful colors.
The Wyandotte was developed in the United States in the mid 19th century. It was originally developed (like most chicken breeds were, back then) as a dual purpose bird.
It was founded on heavy English breeds, and has retained the “cobby” appearance of many of the English breeds. Wyandottes are a broad, compact bird, with sturdy, round bodies and soft feathers. Wyandottes are still kept as meat birds, but they are more likely to be kept as egg layers and as show birds. Wyandottes have small (rose) combs, and clean legs.
Wyandottes will lay over 200 eggs a year. In fact, Wyandottes have taken the International Egg-Laying Championship title several times in the last few hundred years.
The American Poultry Association recognizes eight Wyandotte colors: golden laced, silver laced, white, black, buff, Columbian, partridge, and silver penciled.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte was the original Wyandotte, and it forms the basis of many of the color options created since then. The “lacing” effect is created by a border of black around the edge of each white feather, so that it looks as though the chicken is covered in overlapping black ovals.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte is a very striking bird, and one of the easiest breeds for the novice to recognize.
Golden Laced: the same pattern of black “circles” seen in the Silver Laced, but with a reddish-golden background.
White, Black, and Buff Wyandotte are solid shades of those colors.
Columbian Wyandotte are solid black and white, having a white body with a black tail, black wing tips, and a black neck.
Silver Penciled Wyandotte take the dark feather markings farther, with three barred stripes on each feather, over a white or light gray background.
Patridge Wyandotte has the same three-stripe feathers, but over a reddish-golden background.
Silver Penciled Wyandotte
One famous Wyandotte is Mike the Headless Chicken, who was a white Wyandotte.
In September of 1945, a farmer in Fruita Colorado went out into the yard to slaughter a chicken. He botched his attempt to cut off Mike’s head, leaving the hind brain and the blood supply intact.
Mike survived for almost two years without a head, and became famous worldwide. He toured in a sideshow, and at the height of his popularity earned over $4500 per month.
Mike appeared to be unaware of his condition, and survived for nearly two years, with his owners feeding him via an eyedropper.
Mike’s legacy lives on in Fruita Colorado, where “Mike The Headless Chicken Day” is celebrated every May.
Other chicken breeds:
- Buff Orpington
- Old English Game Birds
- Ameraucana, Araucana, and Easter Egger
- Sex Link, Black Star, and Red Star
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