A lovely bird, which, by reason of its beauty, has been elevated to the status of useless pageant queen by many breeders. The Wyandotte was bred to be both beautiful and useful, and that usefulness has not lost its place on the homestead and small farm.

This is a bird which must be carefully chosen for breeding, and which then will need some refinement to improve utility traits. Show birds are inappropriate for farms, in part because they have been bred to have excessively fluffy feathers around the vent area, which impedes breeding, and causes a tendency to build-up of feces which impacts the vent. While they are a popular bird for backyards, and always sell well, utility breeding lines have a stronger and more stable economic potential than show lines.

Good foragers, Wyandottes are not highly active, they can adapt to either confinement or free-range. They are mostly calm, but some may be aggressive. They make a good dual purpose bird when they are bred for practicality and not for exaggerated appearance.

  • Type - dual purpose
  • Size - medium large standard
  • Production Capacity - approximately 200 eggs per year, plus rapid maturation and good production of roasters.
  • Special Features - unique laced feather patterns are quite lovely
  • Best for Farms - great for breeders who want a consistent seller for breeding stock or hatching eggs, and for those that want a good solid dual purpose chicken.
  • Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - large brown eggs, good meat carcass
  • Other Products - some limited market for feathers
  • Historic or Contemporary Significance - solid dual performance for homesteads and small farms, with potential to be an even better breed with selection by small breeders
  • Housing and Space Requirement - typical
  • Regional Adaptations - adaptable to a range of conditions, but do very well in cold
  • Feed Requirement - more fertile when fed a more natural diet, and increased protein and animal fat (bugs, butchering scraps from other animals, mealworms, redworms, etc) helps support meat production. May also benefit from addition of wheat germ or flax seed to diet to enhance egg fertility.
  • Other Considerations - Avoid show birds if purchasing for utility use. Often the only other choice is industrial hatchery chicks. If you find that this is how you need to obtain initial stock, purchase more than you need, and selectively cull to the best 10 or 20%, and then engage in selective breeding and strict culling to recover the traits for which this breed originally excelled.



Many breeds are not included here due to poor availability, or due to genetic or health issues which make them impractical for small farm or homestead use.

All chicken breeds can be used for dual purpose, but there is a trade-off between meat production and egg laying - a bird cannot be very high in both. There is also a trade-off between egg laying and broodiness - simply because broodiness interferes with high volume egg laying to a certain extent.

So... egg layers that produce a lot of eggs will generally be smaller in size than meat producers. Meat producers will lay fewer eggs than lightweight layers - generally the heavier the bird, the fewer the eggs. Highest egg production seems to be in birds weighing 4-5 lbs. Higher weights slow egg production, and very small breeds also lay less.

Solid dual purpose breeds will meet somewhere in the middle, with a moderately large carcass, and  good egg production through most of the year, about 150 to 200 eggs per year on the high end. Weights for dual purpose birds tend to range around 6-9 lb.

Sizes listed will have Standard after the size if they refer only to the Standard size breed.

Most Chickens also have a Standard size bird, and a Bantam size that goes by the same name, BUT, they are NOT necessarily the same breed! The APA gets a little confused where Bantams are concerned, because as long as the general appearance is the same, they don't care how they got that way, and whether any other traits match or not, and often the appearance diverges as well. So Breed descriptions generally ONLY apply to Standard size birds, unless the breed described here is specified as a Bantam Breed.

Bantams may come about in one of four ways:

1. Some breeds are naturally small, and they are Bantam only. This includes Sebrights, d'Uccles, d'Anvers, and many others. These breeds have the most easily digestible eggs in the chicken world, and they are NOT available in Standard sizes.

2. Some breeds are bred down, selecting for smaller and smaller size to achieve a Bantam breed. This is the most time consuming way to get a Bantam chicken. Characteristics other than size may change in the selection process if the breeder is careless - you generally lose something in egg laying capacity, and health or hardiness simply because of the genetic restriction involved. This is the ONLY case in which the Bantam is actually truly the "same breed" as the full sized variety.

3. Some breeds are created with a combination of breeding down for size, and careful cross breeding with existing Bantam birds, to create a cross breed that is smaller but retains more of the characteristics of the goal breed. Done well, this can produce a Bantam with a fairly close match to the original, though egg laying capacity will still generally be compromised. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.

4. Often, existing Bantam breeds are simply crossed to come up with a bird that has the appearance of the goal breed. In doing this, breeders tend to concentrate on appearance, and forget entirely about other traits. Utility traits are the most commonly ignored. Frequently, behavior, production traits, even some physical traits, are broadly divergent from the original full sized bird. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.

Bantam breeds generally lay less than full sized breeds of the same name - typically about half the laying capacity, sometimes less, rarely more. Bantams are, in general, more broody than full sized hens, in part because they have not been bred for high production, and this trait makes them fairly prolific when allowed to brood eggs. It also makes them very useful in brooding standard size hen eggs, or eggs from quail, partridge, or other small birds. In spite of their small size, they can successfully hatch full sized chicken eggs, though they do not cover a large number of them.

Bantams can be used for meat, though they produce a carcass more like a dove than a chicken.

They WILL fly, whereas only lighter weight standard breeds will fly much. A Bantam can take flight and travel by air over buildings, around trees, and out of sight within a few seconds.

Many breeds of chicken which were originally good utility birds are not listed here simply because they have been bred for show for so long that utility traits are now gone.

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