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Silver Laced Wyandotte: A Historic North American Chicken Breed

The North American Silver Laced Wyandotte is a historic chicken breed that is receiving renewed interest from chicken fanciers worldwide. These birds have a wide range of personalities and are generally friendly and curious if sometimes a little bossy. Additional color types have also been produced, adding more variety to the breed. 

 
Key Takeaway

  • Cold hardy
  • Dual purpose
  • Attractive plumage
  • Heritage breed
  • Coop or free-range

Background & History of the Wyandotte Chicken Breed

The definitive history of the American Wyandotte chicken breed is unknown. It started as a chicken type with no name attributed to it, although it was common in many barnyards.

Eventually, the fowl were called Sebright Cochins. It seems that these first birds may have been the result of combining a Sebright Bantam rooster, an English breed, with a yellow hen, which may or may not have been a Cochin.

Crosses of these types were called mongrels at the time, which was the mid-1800s. Although minimal regard was made to these early birds, in 1870, they were mentioned in the New York State stock papers.

Mr. John P. Ray of Hemlock, New York, created a rose-comb bird by crossing a Sebright bantam rooster with a yellow Sebright x Cochin or “Chittagong” as he called them. The birds found interest from other fowl enthusiasts, and Rev. A. S. Baker and a Mr. Benson also produced birds using the same crosses. 

The gentlemen had their birds illustrated for the agricultural press in 1872, and these illustrations were used as advertisements in poultry journals that spread around several States. It was this that started a wider interest in the “breed”. Following the release of the illustrations, a far more carefully planned breeding campaign followed to mold the set form, type, and color.

The original bird was a solid shade of buff. Silver Spangled Hamburgs and Dark Brahmas were crossed to the Sebright Cochins. Then Silver Spangled Hamburgs and Buff Cochins were interbred, and the best of them used to create a fowl that went by several names depending on who bred them and where. The names including American Sebrights, Eurekas, Excelsiors, Ambrights, or Columbias.  Eventually, the term American Sebright became the accepted one.

At a meeting of “The American Poultry Association” in 1876, a request was made for the American Sebright birds to be accepted into the recognized breeds registry. This request was refused, as it was felt too many discrepancies were still seen in the chickens at this time. The result of the decision was that an even more concentrated effort was made to improve and standardize the fowl, and finally, the recognition they desired was given in 1883 after much improvement was made. These birds were similar to the ones we see today and were one color only. Silver Laced.

The eventual name “Wyandotte” was proposed later in 1883 by Mr. Houdlette of Worcester, Massachusetts. He chose the name because the fowl originated in New York State, where the Native American people, known as the “Wyandotte Nation” were from, although there was no historical association with them. This caused a good deal of controversy at the time.

Although the Wyandotte is an American heritage breed, it has historically been on the endangered poultry list. It was removed in 2016 as it has enjoyed a renewed interest with backyard and hobby keepers as well as on the showing and exhibition  scene. According to The Livestock Conservancy Organisation, it is no longer endangered and has graduated status as a recovering breed. 

Temperament and Behavior of the Silver Laced Wyandotte

The temperament of Wyandotte chickens can be pretty varied and differs from bird to bird. Mostly they are mild-mannered and calm, but they do sometimes show a dominant streak. The same is true of their broodiness; although some hens will set eggs, brood, and raise chicks, others will not.

Wyandottes are very adaptable, making them good birds for beginners. They have a rose comb and are very cold hardy, with a dense covering of close feathers. They can be kept confined in a coop or free-range as they forage well. Many have beautiful feather patterns and are a delight to look at, making them popular for showing. 

Although they are perfectly fine for children to keep, being generally quiet, friendly, and curious, they arent’ the most cuddly of chickens and don’t like to be picked up. Other breeds may be preferable if your kids want hens they can readily handle and pet in their arms.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Breed Specifics and Traits

For anyone looking for a hardy, winter-laying dual-purpose bird that is also attractive to look at, then Wyandottes definitely fit the bill. They are suitable for the North American States, where harsh winters are frequent. They don’t tolerate heat so well and must be provided with well-ventilated housing, deep shade, and abundant fresh, cool water when kept in warmer climates.

They lay a reasonable number of pale to dark brown eggs even in winter and produce between 180-260 a year.

Adult weights for large fowl are on average 6.5 lbs for hens and 8.5 lbs for roosters. Bantam fowl have gradually become heavier over the years and average 33.5 ounces for hens and 40.5 ounces for roosters.

The Wyandotte has a red rose comb that lays relatively flat to the head and has points that are small and rounded. The females comb is smaller than the males. Their wattles and ear lobes are bright red, and the roosters’ neck hackles are long and flowing. They are clean-legged with four toes and have yellow skin. The rooster holds his tale at an angle of approximately 40°. Their body shape should be broad and deep-chested.

Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks have a mix of black and silver/very pale yellow fluffy down. They mature in approximately 20 weeks, and hens usually start to lay at between five and seven months of age.

They can often be long-lived chickens, reaching between 8 and 12 years in the right environment.

The feathering of the Silver Lace Wyandotte is beautiful. It took a lot of work for the breeders of the fowl to perfect the standard. The appearance of the hen and the rooster is quite different. The rooster’s head is silvery-white and has a black stripe in the feathers. The hackles are also silvery-white with a black line through the center that tapers to a point. The white must be very clean and clear of any other color. The saddle feathers have the same black stripe, while the back and wing tops are also silvery-white with no other color. The breast feathers are white in the center with a black laced edge, and the tail is iridescent green/black.

The hen has a silvery-white head color, and the neck feathers are long and slender with a silvery-white center and black edge. The remaining body and breast feathers are broader and rounder with the same white center and black border. The tail has long, wide feathers that start with a white center and black edge, then transition to pure black at the tip. 

OTHER COLOR VARIETIES

As with many other chicken breeds, new color varieties are often developed by enthusiasts; the Wyandotte is no exception. Other Wyandotte colors include:

Golden Laced – Feathers have a golden background color and black edging to each feather, known as lacing. The tail is black.

Buff Laced – The feathers are a buff background color with white edging to each feather.

Blue Laced Red – Te background color is buff or red with a blue-gray edging to each feather.

Black – Black feathers all over.

White – The rarest Wyandotte color. These birds are white all over.

Buff – Buff feathers all over.

Red – Dark red or bronzy brown all over.

Blue – Roosters are black, but the tail and wings can sometimes be blue. Hens are blue all over.

Columbian – White body with a black tail and wingtips. Neck feathers are primarily black with some white.

Buff Columbian – As Columbian but buff instead of white.

Partridge – Hen is red or dark buff with three v-shaped black stripes pointing towards the tip of each feather. Roosters have a stereotypical red and black feathering.

Barred – Both hen and rooster have black and white stripes going horizontally across each feather.

Silver Penciled – The same as partridge, but the base color is silver with black v-shaped stripes on the hen, and the rooster is white with black flecks and a black tail, undercarriage, and wings.

Mille Fleur – Dark brown with feather having a black crescent with a white end to the tips. 

Today according to the American Poultry Association, the following Wyandottes are recognized:

Large Fowl Recognized Colors

Black, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Golden Laced, Partridge, Silver Laced, Silver Penciled, White.

Bantam Fowl Recognized Colors

Black, Blue, Buff, Buff Columbian, Columbian, Golden Laced, Partridge, Silver Laced, Silver Penciled, White.

Predators can be a problem for chickens, and unfortunately, this is no different for the Wyandotte. Being a reasonably placid chicken that doesn’t usually fly, they make relatively easy targets for both wild and domestic animals who fancy a tasty chicken dinner.

Wyandotte hens do enjoy a good gossip and will chatter away to one another. This is not an unpleasant sound, but it could disturb close neighbors. Roosters will crow, which can be pretty loud.

No matter what color Wyandottes are, they must all maintain the true Wyandotte shape and type. It is said that “shape makes the breed” and that “Color designates the variety.”

Wyandotte Health and Disease

The Wyandotte chicken isn’t predisposed to any particular ailment. However, due to their thick feathering, they make a wonderful home for mites and lice, so a dust bath and regular treatment for these almost microscopic pests is a wise precaution.

Worms can also be an issue, particularly for free-range birds, and an anti-worm schedule should be kept to ensure the birds stay worm-free.

If you want to breed Wyandottes, it is helpful to note that they do sometimes have problems with successful matings as their feathers are so thick they can prevent successful fertilization of the hen by the rooster. To help with this, you can trim the feathers around the area to achieve closer coupling. 

Wyandotte Eggs

Hens will usually start to lay eggs at between 5 and 7 months of age, although it can sometimes take longer. Wyandotte eggs are of medium to large size and a pale to mid-brown color. On average, they lay between 180 to 260 eggs per year. 

Getting Your Own Wyandotte Chickens 

If you’d like to have your own Wyandotte chickens, then you may be lucky to find pullets, chicks, or hatching eggs advertised locally or on internet sites, including Amazon and eBay. 

Another way of getting some is by finding a hatchery. There is likely to be a hatchery close to you, but as an example, we have chosen Cackle Hatchery:

Cackle Hatchery

Chicks – Production Type

  • Unsexed = $1.95 to $2.85 depending on quantity ordered
  • Female = $2.82 to $3.77 depending on quantity ordered
  • Male = $1.35 to $2.25 depending on quantity ordered

Chicks – Show Type

  • Unsexed = $2.00 to $2.85 depending on quantity ordered
  • Female = $2.67 to $3.52 depending on quantity ordered
  • Male = $1.40 to $2.25 depending on quantity ordered

Fertile Hatching Eggs

  • 12 = $54.36
  • 24 = $90.24

Pullets

Started Pullets of 12 to 16 weeks old $30 per bird plus shipping costs.

Our Favorite Hatchery
Cackle Hatchery
A family-owned hatchery, Cackle Hatchery has been breeding high quality birds and shipping them to your doorstep since 1936. With over 200 types of birds available, you can order as few as 3 chicks.
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Summary

The beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte is one of America’s original chicken breeds. Cold hardy, productive and dual-purpose, being suitable for both the table and egg production. They are good winter layers and produce a fair number of medium to large eggs each season.

Due to their hardiness, generally pleasant personalities, and suitability for living either in a coop or free-range make excellent birds for new chicken keepers. They are also popular as show birds. 

To discover more about many other wonderful chicken breeds as well as other fowl, browse our website.

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