The Golden Comet Chicken is not a true chicken breed but rather a hybrid of different breeds. They are also known by other names, including Red Star, Golden Buff, Cinnamon Queen, Gold or Buff Sex-Link, or just Brown Hybrids. The breed’s purpose was for commercial egg production. However, they are also suitable as table birds having a good size carcass.
Table of Contents
- Prolific egg layers
- Short lifespan
Background and History of the Golden Comet Chicken Breed
In the early twentieth century, there was a demand for chickens that could lay more eggs, mature faster, and also be used for meat. Hybrids were the result.
Golden Comet roosters were heavy enough to be meat birds, and hens could be stewed once they had outlived their productive egg laying years.
So it was that specific chicken breeds were crossbred to produce these hybrids, primarily for commercial purposes. The Golden Comet is one such hybrid.
The chicken breeds used to produce Golden Comets vary slightly according to breeder preferences. One desirable trait is to use hens with the silver factor in their genetic makeup because these produce sex-link chicks that can easily be sorted into males and females on hatching.
Rhode Island Reds (Cherry Eggers), New Hampshires, or brown/red Ameraucana roosters are crossed with White Rock, Rhode Island White, Delaware, Silver Leghorn, or Columbian Wyandotte hens to produce these hybrid chickens.
What characteristics do these individual breeds have?
Rhode Island Reds are an American dual-purpose breed developed from Malays and brown Leghorns in the late nineteenth century. They have two distinct strains. One is a heritage type and the other is a production egg-laying bird. A strain known as “Cherry Egger” is often used for hybrids.
New Hampshire’s were created using Rhode Island Reds in the 1930s. They lay large brown eggs and mature earlier.
Ameraucanas were developed in the US during the 1970s from Araucanas and other breeds. They lay blue eggs.
White Rocks are broiler chickens that were selected from Plymouth Rocks, a breed created in Massachusetts as a dual-purpose bird in the early nineteenth century. They were a cross of Black Java hens and Barred roosters.
Rhode Island Whites came from breeding white Wyandottes, Partridge Cochins, and white Leghorns and were first developed around 1888.
Delawares were developed in the US in the 1940s. They were used as broiler birds and created by crossing Plymouth Rocks and New Hampshires.
Silver Leghorns are a landrace breed that came from Italy and were prized for their egg-laying abilities. They first arrived in the US in 1852.
Columbian Wyandottes were an accidental creation that came from crossing white Wyandottes with barred Plymouth Rocks in the late 1800s.
Golden Comets are not a recognized breed and do not appear in the American Poultry Association Standards. They are also not considered endangered.
Golden Comet Temperament and Behavior
The temperament of Golden Comets is generally very calm and friendly. As they are a mixture of various other breeds, their character traits vary between birds, but most seem to enjoy human company and are not aggressive with flockmates.
They like to roam and be free-range but also tolerate confinement in a coop.
Many Golden Comets are “rescued” when they are two years old from commercial chicken farms, as their fate would otherwise be death. These hens, in particular, seem to really enjoy human contact. Giving these birds the freedom to range is a just reward for their time spent in production confinement.
They soon learn to forage, and hens are quiet and low maintenance which makes them suitable for new and urban chicken keepers. Their even, take anything in their stride temperaments also means they are suitable for children.
Because they are fast-growing hybrid hens, they are not known to be broody. They also don’t breed true, so if you crossed a Golden Comet hen with a rooster, they would not produce identifiable Golden Comet chicks but rather chicks in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and egg-laying abilities.
Breed Specifics and Traits of Golden Comet Chickens
As Golden Comets lay a large number of eggs and have a good size carcass, they are considered suitable as a dual-purpose breed. Their main purpose, however, is commercial egg-laying.
Along with Leghorns, which lay white eggs, Golden Comets are the modern production bird of choice for laying brown eggs. Their fast development, and early egg-laying ability from 16 to 20 weeks, make them a popular choice as an industrial chicken.
Because those with the silver factor can be sexed as chicks, this is another reason why they are useful as commercial egg-laying chickens. Males and females can be sorted right from day one with 95 to 100% accuracy.
Male chicks are pale yellow, while females are a golden buff to brownish red with stripes. As adults, hens have reddish-brown feathers mixed with white and can be in various shades from pale to dark. Roosters can be completely white or white with pale or dark red feathering on their shoulders.
Roosters weigh in at 8 to 9 lbs, while hens are 6 to 7 lbs, cockerels around 8 lbs, and pullets 6 lbs. Roosters can be 2 to 4 feet tall.
Golden Comets have yellow skin, beaks and legs, and a single red comb and wattles.
One of the main downsides to these friendly birds is their short lifespan. Typically they will only live to be four or five years of age. This makes their name all the more fitting. They are a bright flash that lasts only a brief while.
Due to their docile, easy-going natures, they don’t tend to fly, although they can do so over short distances. This means that they won’t generally survive attacks by foxes, coyotes, dogs, and other predators. For this reason, they need a secure coop, especially at night, so they can roost in safety.
Hot or cold weather doesn’t seem to be a problem for this type of hen, and they will continue laying whatever the weather. You will need to give them well-ventilated housing that stays cool in summer and warm in winter. They also need plenty of shade from the sun.
Health and Disease
Like many single comb chickens, they can suffer from frostbite in freezing weather, particularly when perching at night. This can be helped by providing a well-insulated henhouse or, in icy conditions, a special over perch heater.
Due to the heavy burdens put on their bodies with early development and prolific egg-laying, the hens often suffer from reproductive organ issues, tumors, and peritonitis. As a result, they don’t live as long as many other chicken breeds.
Attention should be paid to pest management to address lice, mites, and worms on a regular basis. They must always have access to clean, fresh water and good shelter to protect them from heat and cold.
Golden Comet Eggs
The eggs laid by Golden Comets are brown and are large to extra large in size. A hen can lay between 250 to 320 eggs a year in her first two years, after which time the number will drop off significantly.
To ensure good egg production and quality, the correct feed must be given for laying hens. This contains additional calcium and nutrients. The provision of crushed oyster shells also helps with keeping eggshells healthy and strong.
Where to Buy Golden Comet Chickens
Many people like to get these lovely hens from commercial egg farms when they are “retired.” The hens are generally two years of age at this point, and although they will continue to lay eggs, it won’t be as many as in their first two years of life. These birds are usually quite wonderful to have around and appreciate their new found freedom.
You can also buy this type of hybrid chicken from a hatchery or create your own by crossing two of the breeds mentioned earlier.
We use Cackle Hatchery, which uses a strain of Cherry Egger rooster (Cherry Eggers are a type of Rhode Island Red) crossed with Rhode Island White hens to produce their Golden Comets.
Chicks can be purchased from the hatchery and are seasonal, usual availability is between February and September. The prices below are per chick and don’t include vaccination or transportation costs.
There are often minimum and maximum order quantities stipulated by the hatchery.
- Unsexed chicks = $2.20 to $3.10
- Female chicks = $3.11 to $3.96
- Male chicks = $1.55 to $2.40
Prices are for guidance only and are subject to change at any time.
Golden Comets, or whatever name you use for these hybrid chickens, are exceptional egg layers during their first two years of life.
They mature fast and have easy-going, friendly personalities making them a pleasure to own. This also makes them suitable for both children and beginners, and they are a great addition to any backyard flock, providing the personalities of the other chickens within the flock are not too aggressive.
The biggest negative of the breed is their susceptibility to reproductive tract disorders at a young age which often shortens their lifespan to less than many other types of chicken.
Q – Are Golden Comets good chickens?
A – Golden Comets are friendly chickens capable of laying many eggs. They are generally calm, friendly, and easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for a backyard bird. Sadly due to reproductive tract problems, they are often short-lived.
Q – What kind of chicken is a Golden Comet?
A – Golden Comets or similar birds of this type, are crossbreed or hybrid chickens with a silver gene. This makes them sex-linked, so males and females can be distinguished as day-old chicks. They are bred from various other types of chicken, including Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, and Ameraucauna roosters mated to Rhode Island Whites, White Rocks, Delawares, Silver Leghorns, or Columbian Wyandottes.
Q – How long will Golden Comet chickens lay eggs?
A – This type of hybrid hen can start laying her brown eggs as early as 16 weeks of age and will continue to produce many eggs until she reaches two years. After this time, although she will still lay, the number of eggs will diminish significantly.
Q – Are Golden Comet hens quiet?
A – Yes, these hybrid hens are quiet, although Golden Comet roosters do crow.